Writing a review is a bit like removing a plaster. Sometimes it’s best to gently ease off that band aid, bit by bit, taking great care until it’s finally, safely, free of skin and hair, but on other occasions it’s best to rip that plaster off in one fell swoop. Fall Of Light definitely calls for the latter, as one of the worst games I’ve ever played. Maybe the worst.
The developers, Runeheads, certainly can’t be faulted for their ambition. Fall of Light is a top-down isometric action RPG that draws upon two titans of the industry for its inspiration: Ico and Dark Souls. The former can be seen in the manner that the player’s character, the old wrinkly warrior Nyx, must guide his daughter, Aether, on a quest to find the last speck of sunlight. The latter can be seen in the constant cycle of death and rebirth as Nyx is regularly killed.
The game fundamentally fails to achieve either of its lofty ambitions however. Unlike in Team Ico’s finest, there is no emotional attachment to Aether, as she has none of the charm or naïve vulnerability of Ico. Instead, think of her more like a block in a block puzzle. You just need to drag her along with you until you get to the end of the section. There is also no consequence or risk to her death, as she can simply be brought back to life with the quick tap of a button, rendering this the most pointless and tedious escort mission of all time.
Fall of Light also fails in its homage to Dark Souls. As a strictly linear experience, there is no sense of exploring an ever expanding and complex world as the Souls games did so well. This can be forgiven, as the two man development team might not have the resources to craft such an extensive environment, but what can’t be forgiven is the atrocious combat.
Nyx essentially has two attacks: light and heavy. There are additional stances that can be unlocked, but these have little impact on the core combat experience. There is a frustrating input lag that ranges from slight to severe in response to your button presses. Perhaps this could be attributed to the ageing warriors waning reflexes, but that doesn’t explain the poorly implemented hit boxes. It’s very difficult, almost impossible, to tell if your strikes are hitting the enemy of if their attacks are striking you. The game doesn’t seem to know either. On one occasion an axe wielding thug was stood next to my stationary character, slashing away with his massive chopper, but never hitting the target.
These two factors make combat a messy and laborious affair. Target your enemy, run in circles around them, hammer R1 and R2 until your stamina bar depletes, flee, hammer R1 and R2 again, find the next enemy, and repeat. If not for the bosses, it would be a much more effective tactic to simply avoid your foes entirely and run all the way to the end of each interlocking level. The bosses ruin that plan. They’re much like your regular foes but tougher. So that’s more targeting your enemy, running in circles and hammering R1 and R2, then.
And if you’re thinking that perhaps you could use defensive methods to overcome your foes then you’d be wrong. A puny shield has such poor visual cues so as to be completely ineffective, while there’s a combat roll that can be activated by pressing forward and circle at the same time. When these controls are plagued by the same lag found elsewhere, it’s safe to say that this roll can jog on.
Should I go on? The art style is a poor and boring to look at collection of chunky plain polygons that repeat ad infinitum, and despite the lack of environmental detail, the camera still manages to find objects to block your view of the combat. Areas of the level are so dark you can’t help but fall off something to your death. Finally, the story, what there is of one, is confusing and muddled in its presentation so that even the opening cutscene is worth skipping.
I tried to find something positive to say, I really did, but my attempts were futile. If it weren’t for the fact that I was playing this game for review, I would have quit and deleted it after the opening section.
If you’d never seen, heard or played a video game before, you might be moderately impressed. For everyone else, you should steer well clear of Fall Of Light.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
Also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC