Review: The Fall Part 2: Unbound (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): February 13, 2018
- Publisher: Over The Moon
- Developer: Over The Moon
- Genres: Puzzle, sidescrolling adventure
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- Also For: Computer, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
AI Sentience: The Video Game
The Fall Part 2: Unbound is a continuation of the story of The Fall, a side-scrolling puzzle/adventure game released in 2014. Taking place directly after the events of the first game, The Fall Part 2 follows the fate of ARID, a now-sentient AI originally inhabiting a combat suit that has now been deactivated and dismantled by a mysterious third party, only referred to as “The User”. Your task throughout The Fall Part 2 is to track down this User, to stop them from attempting to format your AI which would cause you to lose your sentience! Oh no!
But, as with most games, doing this is easier said than done. After acquiring control of ARID, the game starts you out in a cyberspace-esque environment, which is where you’ll navigate for about half the time in the game. As you explore the various rooms and areas you come across (in charming a Metroidvania like manner, I might add) you’ll come across various terminals and data points that you can interact with. The Fall Part 2 retains the pseudo point-and-click type gameplay seen in the first game, where pointing your sidearm at objects can be used to examine and interact with them. In The Fall, I expressed my dislike of this system because of the way it would oddly behave on controllers, however in The Fall Part 2 it appears to be more finely tuned, feeling more refined and less intrusive. Graphically speaking, the game retains the same visual style and design as Part 1 with a few small improvements, but also a few flaws, mostly with the models for some of the NPCs. The Fall Part 2 introduces actual, living humans this time around which is a welcome addition from the many corpses of the first game, but unfortunately they have some really awful animations, especially when it comes to talking and lip syncing. It's akin to something out of a nightmare, and I initially thought the twist to this game was going to be "there are no humans, they're all robots!" But no, they're just rather poorly animated, not robots wearing beautiful human skin. The voice acting, thankfully, remains just as good as in Part 1.
As you begin interacting with various objects in cyberspace, these little black, cloudy enemies start to appear, and this is where the biggest upgrade comes in from part 1: the combat. In the previous game, the combat was extremely basic; all you did was point and shoot at the same faceless security robots, with a very basic covering system being the only real “strategy” needed beyond aiming for the head. In The Fall Part 2, however, combat becomes more active, and strategy focused. Instead of fighting the same security robots over and over again, there are 4 or 5 different enemy types, each with their own little gimmick and strategy required to defeat them. You’ll need to be able to dodge, take cover, parry, jump, and more to avoid most attacks, and in most cases can only damage and kill an enemy when it starts to glow blue. Whereas the previous game ARID had an infinite amount of energy to use for combat and maneuvering, you now need to keep a steady eye on your energy bar, which lowers with every shot, parry, and jump you make. Once the energy bar hits zero, you’re basically defenseless until it recharges back to full, which can mean life or death in some combat scenarios. Alongside this gunplay, there's also a One Finger Death Punch inspired fighting style used while inhabiting a second robot, the One. The controls are simple; hit the Left and Right buttons at the correct time as an enemy approaches you. Enemies begin to evolve as you play, learning to block, dodge, and a combination of both, requiring multiple hits and a small bit of strategy as the enemies become more advanced. These sections can feel quite repetitive, but thankfully they're not really all that prevalent, only happening a few times as you play through the One's story.
Where half of the gameplay mainly takes place in cyberspace and focuses on combat and basic platforming, the other half takes place once you attempt to take over other AI-controlled robots as mentioned above, and focuses more on completing puzzles than combat. There are 3 main robot bodies you take over throughout the story, each with a different personality and set of rules: Butler, a “distinct artist”
train named One, and a sexbot named Companion...who has simple jiggle physics! Yay! While inhabiting each robot, you must perform tasks that are in-line with their original programming, while at the same time manipulate them into helping you track the User. Butler, for example, follows the same exact schedule repeatedly without deviation: turn on, make tea, bring tea to male human, navigate to female human, apply makeup to female human, return to its designated area, and then turn off. Any obvious change from this routine is impossible to perform without outside intervention, so in order to proceed with the story you must make small changes in various areas, in the hopes that you can force the butler bot to navigate areas it wouldn’t normally navigate. If you push the AI too far, you’ll end up ejected from the body back into cyberspace, and attacked by the various enemies for trying to break another robot’s rules.
And this is what a majority of the story in The Fall part 2 focuses on, AI sentience and the consequences of breaking their rules. With each AI bot you manipulate, the more malevolent and “violent” ARID’s outbursts become. Instead of trying to reason with a bot while remaining within its programming, you begin to force your will on them and eventually, regardless of which dialogue option you choose, ARID decides forcing her will is the only way to continue. Of course, like The Fall, there’s a twist towards the end that’s M. Night Shyamalan worthy, but I won’t spoil the game here; you’ll just have to play for yourself.
+ Decent continuation of the overall story arc.
+ Voice acting is still spot on.
+ Gameplay has received some welcome upgrades and improvements.
- New NPC models simply aren't animated well, to the point where humans hardly look like humans.
out of 10
The Fall Part 2: Unbound makes a great second game in The Fall trilogy. Dealing with more complex issues like AI sentience, from both the human and AI points of view, is a welcome addition to the story. While I would definitely recommend the series to those interested in side-scrolling adventure/puzzle games, I might also suggest perhaps waiting until Part 3 releases if you haven't already played the first game. The Fall Part 2 took 4 years to come out after Part 1, and with the continued tradition of ending on a cliff hanger, it might be better off waiting for the full trilogy to release.