UPDATE: I’ve spoken to the developers and they are determined to help make Fall of Light great. Expect a patch that fixes the controls but stamina will stay, I’ll just have to learn how to properly use it.
I was sat in my kitchen having breakfast and enjoying a cup of coffee. I’d finished with all my reviews and was already searching for the next. That was when I saw Fall of Light, a game that had clear inspirations from Dark Souls. I quickly took to my e-mail, anxious for the chance to give my opinion on it. To my glee, I was granted the opportunity by the wonderful folks at Digerati. Now here I am, ready to throw my hat into the ring of some already fabulously written reviews. I’ll be critical, I’ll be honest, and I invite all of you to join me on this journey.
In the beginning, there was nothing more than a dark abyss with the only sounds heard being that of screaming souls. That all changed once the Goddess Luce appeared and her radiance purged the darkness. For 13 long eras, the world knew nothing but prosperity, that is until an evil sorcerer emerged. He went by the moniker of Pain, training in silence and gathering his strength. Eventually, it was his plan to wage war against the Goddess and when that day arrived, chaos ensued. By the end of the struggle, countless had been lost and Luce, she had been defeated.
The best way I can describe Fall of Light is that it’s essentially one large escort mission. In it, you’ll guide an entity known as Aether, an Indigo Child that will light the way through the darkness. It’s your task to protect her from the enemies that litter the area. For those that recall Golden Eye 64, you can rejoice as the AI isn’t hopeless. With the Y button, you’ll be able to call her towards you or with that same press, you can hold her hand. To sort of entice you to do this, you’re given a bonus when she’s near. Your strength will increase, as will your ability. That softens the blow too if you’re not exactly a fan of escort missions in general.
Every time your character meets the reaper, Aether will be left behind, resulting in her being killed. You’re then tasked with returning to your site of death, where a blue flame is now present. This is to symbolize where she has been killed and gives you the chance to bring her back. Before I get into anything, I want to point out something to do with the narration. Yeah, surprise right, but I felt this was particularly strange to me. After you meet your maker, the game nonchalantly mentioned that Aether is your daughter. As an amateur novelist, this felt anticlimactic. Like an important piece of information like that was handled in such a throwaway manner. It isn’t game breaking but as I normally do, I had to point it out as is my over-analytical ways.
Now, allow me to preface this next section by saying that I’m unaware if this was a glitch. It seems that there was a slight balance miscalculation when it came to the first boss and the blue flame mechanic. What I mean by this is that, while facing off, I was killed and as you probably guessed, this means Aether did as well. Ordinarily, you’d return to the site to resurrect her. Not that simple as the boss was especially agile, meaning that no matter how hard I tried to create distance, he’d always catch up. This meant I couldn’t resurrect Aether and thus went without her power boost. This was infuriating and try as I may, my stubbornness wasn’t enough.
You’re probably thinking, Fernando, just practice and get good at the game. That’s sound advice but Fall of Light makes that difficult, at least in my opinion. Hitboxes seemed to be all over the place and sometimes strikes I thought hit, well, didn’t register as such. The movement of my character felt stiff and contributed a lot to my inability to hit on things, kind of like real life. Anyway, nothing about the character felt snapping, something you’d expect from an action game such as this.
There was a bigger issue, at least for me, and that was the inclusion of a stamina bar. I do recognize this is to add a sense of strategy and could be a byproduct of poor hitboxes. Whenever I’d swing my weapon, the bar decreased, that to me is normal and completely understandable. It was once I also learned that defending causes it to deplete, making the game needlessly hard. See, I understand it’s because of exhaustion and swinging any weapon makes one tired. Simply holding a shield, while tiresome as well, just felt like it wouldn’t exert you as much. Yet, the same amount of stamina is lost, meaning if there’s an opening, I can’t strike. The fickle hitboxes definitely don’t help in making it any easier. It’s a needed mechanic and I get that, so I propose maybe lessening the amount you lose.
Now, before I’m chastised for not realizing this is a stealth game at its core, I get that but I feel it still doesn’t work. For example, in the first level, enemies are placed very closely, this makes it hard to weed out one at a time. Bringing three to you is impossible to fight thanks to bad hitboxes and stamina. No matter what I tried, it usually ended with that result. Since Aether was killed during the boss fight, I’m also weaker, adding to my blight. I feel as if there are several aspects in place that work against each other, resulting in an unbalanced experience.
As I mentioned before, the controls felt very clunky and overall, the movement was stiff but it wasn’t all I found. It felt like there was a slight button delay to any of my button presses, maybe half a second to a whole one. I do think adjustments are needed here to erase the delay. What do I mean, allow me to tell you, during a boss fight, fireballs are summoned and to make matters worse, they home in on you. You do have a dodge roll but here’s the issue. Dodging eats up stamina and since attacking and defending do the same, it’s hard to keep track. I feel there are too many things ties to a bar that diminishes quickly and I did find myself unable to attack numerous times because of rolling…or defending. There was also a few instances of extra maneuvers, despite not initiating them.
I do want to steer all attention away from the negative thought and talk about some of the positive. One thing I found very well done is the sound design. Fall of Light doesn’t deal much in musical tracks, saving any score for big set-pieces. Usually, it deals in the nature sounds, like rain for example. It creates a sense of serenity and as someone that sleeps to white noise like that, I was amazed. It sounded so authentic and real; the nature sounds really added something. There is also voice-acting here that was well-done for the most part.
In conclusion, Fall of Light is a game I was initially really excited for but ultimately disappointed by. It looks just like an isometric-esque Dark Souls but fails to meet that comparison. Graphics are passable but if you look hard enough, I definitely saw some bits of roughness around the edges. There is potential but it goes untapped and results in a game just waiting to be great. In this state, there’s really only one verdict that I can give it, unfortunately.
Game Code was Provided by Digerti for the purpose of this review