Review – Black: The Fall
You’ve seen reviews for other platforms, you’ve seen people talk about it, you can clearly see the pictures in this article. Yes, Black: The Fall is a game that looks a lot like Inside, one of the best games from last year. Not only does it have a similar look, it also features somewhat similar gameplay, being a challenging puzzle-platformer featuring “mind control puzzles,” clearly based on the Oddworld games. I have no idea which game started development first, and I won’t even bother entering into discussions about it, because while those games are very very very very similar, as well as the fact Inside did set a pretty high bar for this type of platforming experience, Black: The Fall still has some interesting concepts to hold up on its own.
The game starts with your character, that can only be properly described as yet another cog in a gigantic totalitarian machine, trying to escape the factory he works at, which is set in a rigid communist dictatorship, complete with pictures of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin on the walls, as well as lots and lots of hammers and sickles decorating the bleak interiors of the facility. The in-your-face setting might actually be one of the most interesting aspects of the game in comparison to its close cousin. The game doesn’t try to hide the fact you’re in the worst kind of communist dystopia you can find, and makes use of it by creating factories full of hardships and strict surveillance. The game’s setting creates a graphical issue, however: the interiors of those facilities are extremely dark, making it really difficult for you to see what’s going on, especially when you’re playing the game on portable mode.
Gameplay-wise, there are various similarities to Inside. The game is completely devoid of written or spoken plot, with everything being shown to you by means of gameplay. You can’t attack anyone and you’re pretty much dead if an enemy spots you. Death traps are everywhere. The game also features some sort of “possessing” mechanic that both Inside and Oddworld (easily those games’ main source of inspiration) also have, but this time around, you get it pretty early in the game, allowing for the devs to throw more elaborate puzzles at you after not even an hour of gameplay. Instead of freely controlling your possessed mate, however, you control him/her/it/whatever by using what I can only describe as a magical laser pointer, telling your guinea pig where to go and what to do. It might take you a while to get used to the mechanic, since it’s mapped to the right analog stick, but it’ll make sense after a few minutes of gameplay.
For as much as I try to come up with positives for this game (and there are enough), I have to be realistic: Black: The Fall is extremely similar to Inside, which is still a better game. For the time being, given that Playdead’s masterpiece is not going to be released for the Switch soon, Black: The Fall can be a fun stopgap, as it isn’t technically incompetent or unplayable. It’s just too similar to a game that hasn’t been released long ago. At the very least, it’s similar to a very good game.
Reviewed on Switch
Also available on: PS4, PC, Xbox One.
Copy of Black: The Fall provided by publisher.