Indie game “The Fall” jumpstarts the Metroid fan in me

I normally don’t pay much attention to the Indie game scene, but say the word “Metroid” around me and it’s like waving raw meat in front of a starved canine. And starvation only begins to describe the state of the Metroid franchise. Can you believe it’s been nearly ten years since the last 2D Metroid? Ten. And that decade of disappearance makes this gloomy upcoming project “The Fall” all the more appetizing.

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The Fall draws its design influences from Metroid.  Then it dyes its hair jet black.

The Fall is a one-man project set to strike a balance between the atmosphere, action, and gameplay of franchises like Metroid and Secret of Monkey Island. Instead of Metroid’s run-and-gun exploration, The Fall imposes a heavier influence on investigation and puzzle-solving.

And, wow… is it dark. The Fall reminds me of playing Super Metroid with sunglasses on. Locales include abandoned caves and robot-infested factories–most of which are soaked in shadows.

Not only do the dark visuals cook up a lonely, confining atmosphere, but they also give rise to flashlight-based searching, a la Silent Hill. In addition to illuminating the game’s locales, the flashlight scans objects and enables puzzle-solving. The light’s cone echoes the X-Ray visor from Super Metroid, and it provides readouts of various objects and environments. As far as I can tell, you can’t Power-Bomb the area, so expect plenty of detective work.

The Fall’s take on combat is classic yet modern. While the main character ARID blasts away at enemies, he must take cover when facing enemy fire. Survival depends on patience and timing moreso than mashing the shoot button. Check the video below to get a feel for it:

Finally, there’s a compelling storyline in the works:

“The Fall is a story about ARID, a virtual intelligence integrated into an armoured combat suit, who’s activated when the human pilot inside the suit is rendered unconscious.  ARID awakes in a half-initialized state, with very little control over the suit and its functions. Somehow however, it must find a way to help its human pilot, even though it can barely help its self.”

While I’m not expecting the game to go all-out in terms of presentation, the plotline has piqued my interest. I’m hoping the developer, John Warner, takes advantage of the story concept and explores either the dependency of humans on computers or the benefits of bridging humans and computers. We might have a thinking man’s sci-fi tale on our hands, here. Then again, maybe I’m just an English-Lit graduate hunting for deeper meaning. 

As it stands now, The Fall has raised $33,200 CAD and will appear on PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U. Another $4,800 and the game will garner some serious upgrades including a larger world and improved combat. There are still two days left to help with funding, so check out The Fall’s Kickstarter page if you want to throw a few bones toward the project.

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