‘Black the Fall,’ escape the iron fist


At first glance, “Black the Fall” comes off as “Inside’s” estranged cousin. Both are moody puzzle platformers that share a similar tone and minimalist aesthetic. What sets “Black the Fall” apart is its historical inspiration based on the implications of real-world politics. Whether the message hits home, however, relies heavily on the background and personality of the player.

In “Black the Fall,” players take control of an overworked machinist who is stuck under the thumb of an oppressive Communist State. You’ll have to sneak past guards and avoid detection while trying to escape from your working-class prison.

After stepping off a crowded elevator, players are literally put to work straight from the get-go. The industrial setting and minimalistic art style set the tone for what is to come, as the tiny machinist hops onto a stationary bike to trigger the first steps of his escape plan. You can even unlock the Working Class Hero achievement if you stay on the bike long enough, but even the most diligent workers earn little for their efforts.

As you sneak your way past guards and carefully maneuver through rooms rigged with deadly robot patrols, you begin to really get a sense of what an oppressive regime can truly feel like. The game’s Romanian developers, Sand Sailor Studio, designed the dystopian aspects of “Black the Fall” around their own experiences and memories living in Communist Romania during the reign of Nicolae Ceaucescu.

The feeling of hopelessness and dread are pervasive throughout. You’ll breath a sigh of relief upon reaching the outdoors, only to find that the outside world offers its own set of challenges.

As you make your way through the deteriorating landscape, you’ll eventually stumble across a small robotic companion who loyally follows your commands and is crucial for solving puzzles in the game’s second act. The little fella is pretty much indestructible, too, so don’t worry about putting it in seemingly harmful situations. Though mainly used as a tool for solving puzzles, the robot companion helps to lighten the mood during your otherwise harrowing journey.

GAMEPLAY

The puzzles themselves are fairly satisfying, at least coming from someone who enjoys solving environmental puzzles. Some puzzles are quite challenging, and give that “ah-ha” moment upon realizing the solution, which is how good puzzles should be.

Oftentimes, a puzzle’s solution will involve an element in the environment that you didn’t realize was something you could interact with, which says more about the person solving the puzzle than the design of the puzzle itself. I prefer games with puzzles to avoid obvious hand-holding, so I was okay with this despite having kicked myself a few times for not noticing certain objects in the environment sooner.

The only thing that gets in the way of the satisfying puzzle design are occasional hiccups with the player controls. The machinist moves well for the most part, but sometimes the jumping and maneuvering is inconsistent, causing your character to get hung up on objects from time to time.

The third and final act takes a dark turn that pivots you into a different direction. However, your goal remains the same: keep pushing forward towards freedom. Upon reaching the end and triggering the credits, a series of actual photos from the 1989 Romanian Revolution will start to scroll by. While this is intended to add a more personal twist to the game’s narrative, the ending was likely lost on many players who either haven’t experienced such events in real life or who weren’t cognizant of the game’s theme throughout.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In terms of atmosphere, style, and overall puzzle mechanics, “Black the Fall” hits the mark in each of those areas. However, some narrative aspects could have been expanded upon to flesh out the deep personal message they were trying to convey at the end. While comparisons to “Limbo” and “Inside” are inevitable, “Black the Fall” ultimately offers its own unique puzzle-solving, platforming experience. If you are drawn by “Black the Fall’s” minimalist design and heavy atmosphere, then we recommend giving this moody platformer a try.

———

Shacknews is a leading online provider of videogame, entertainment and lifestyle content, as well as community and interactive services.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Sexual harassment at work can increase risk of eating disorders, drug use for women, study says
Sexual harassment at work can increase risk of eating disorders, drug use for women, study says

Workplace sexual harassment can be detrimental. In fact, those who experience it are more likely to suffer from depression, eating disorders and drug use, according to a new report. Researchers from the American Psychological Association recently conducted a study, published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, to further explore...
Bodies of rapper Bambino Gold, cousin found, police say
Bodies of rapper Bambino Gold, cousin found, police say

The bodies of an Atlanta rapper and his cousin have been found in Alabama, according to authorities. The bodies of Edward Reeves, whose stage name is Bambino Gold, and cousin Kendrick Stokes were found in Macon County, Alabama, the sheriff confirmed. The bodies were found Friday night and Saturday, according to a report by WTVM , a Columbus television...
Eating too fast could be making you fat, study says
Eating too fast could be making you fat, study says

Do you often scarf down your food pretty quickly? Be careful, because doing so could cause some major health issues, according to a new report. Researchers from universities in Japan recently conducted an experiment to determine if eating speed can be linked to obesity or metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk factors...
Man beaten, robbed during Plenty of Fish meetup, police say
Man beaten, robbed during Plenty of Fish meetup, police say

Online dating turned violent for a man when a woman he met on the dating site Plenty of Fish lured him to a home, where he was beaten and robbed, police said. The victim met a woman who goes by the dating profile name StonerSnowBunny91, police said. The two decided to meet in person. When the victim tried to meet up, he told police the address was...
Boy, 10, dies after getting tangled in park swing
Boy, 10, dies after getting tangled in park swing

A 10-year-old boy died Friday night after becoming tangled in chains on a swing at a park in Northwest Jacksonville, deputies said. Jacksonville sheriff's deputies responded at 6:15 p.m. to Charles "Boobie" Clark Park where they found the unresponsive boy, who investigators identified as NaShon Green. Earlier, NaShon's mother walked...
More Stories