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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Fall is a downloadable side-scrolling puzzle adventure game. Players become an artificial intelligence that has taken control of a combat suit after its human occupant is rendered unconscious. Most of the game focuses on solving contextual puzzles with various nearby items. Some parts involve firefights against robots with a gun, and the machines spark and explode when damaged. Humans are referenced as dead, injured, or dying, and blood drips from a combat suit whose occupant apparently has died.
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What's it about?
An armored combat suit falls from space and lands in an unknown location in the opening moments of THE FALL, a side-scrolling puzzle adventure game. The suit's occupant is unresponsive, so an artificial intelligence system wakes up and takes control. Its first priority is to save the life of the person inside, but several of its key systems aren't operational. Plus, it doesn't even know where it is, much less where any medical facilities might be. The AI initiates a quest to find aid but quickly encounters an unknown robot and realizes that it may be in hostile territory. What follows is a mix of contextual puzzles and occasional robotic gunfights. Puzzles generally require players to find and make use of items such as a wrench or a key card to open new paths. Gunfights involve pistols and a simple cover-and-shoot mechanic. More options become available as the suit's unresponsive systems are gradually switched on. This is the first game in what could be an ongoing story.
Is it any good?
The Fall isn't long, but its dark artistic flair is memorable. Clearly inspired by indie sensation Limbo, players will encounter dramatic lighting and shadow effects from a flashlight shining into the darkness to silhouettes of junk piles. The story and voice acting are engaging as well, making it easy to get sucked into the AI's desperate plight to save its human. It can be surprisingly emotional for a story about robots and artificial intelligence.
The rudimentary puzzles, however, are a bit of a mixed bag. Most of the time, it's simply a matter of searching the environment for objects, then working out where and how to use them. The solutions generally make sense, but there will be times of frustration when you simply try one thing after another in a process of elimination. Cover-based combat, meanwhile, is competent and fun yet uninspired. It seems to exist simply to provide a break from solving puzzles. Still, there's something fascinating about The Fall and its non-human hero that's not easily dismissed. It's worth a look for anyone interested in the possibilities and boundaries inherent in artificial intelligence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Isaac Asimov's famous and enduring Three Laws of Robotics fit within this game's story. Do you think the artificial intelligences in this game adhere to these laws?
Discuss whether a true artificial intelligence -- a man-made creation capable of independent thought, learning, and desire -- should be afforded the same rights as living creatures. Also, do you think such entities will ever exist?
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games like The Fall. Is the violence OK because you're destroying rogue robots? Since you play as an artificial intelligence, is the impact of in-game violence reduced?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii U, Windows
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, deduction, solving puzzles
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Over the Moon
- Release date: May 14, 2014
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Robots, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.