Fall of Light: Darkest Edition
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition, from developer RuneHeads and publisher Digerati, is a story-driven action RPG set in a world of oppression. A dark setting can be a very effective tool to convey fear and dread in a video game and that is exactly what the developers were hoping for in Fall of Light with a mature story and hopelessness around every corner. Unfortunately, I did not find enough light to make this title shine bright enough for a worthwhile experience.
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition incorporates a top-down isometric viewpoint with its story and lore centered around darkness. Your goal is to try and lead your daughter to the one patch of light that still happens to exist. This leads you through a relatively linear journey with new areas to explore, puzzles to solve, and deal with bosses in order to gain abilities to keep progressing.
The gameplay itself is somewhat reminiscent to Dark Souls, at least in terms of dodging, learning patterns, and constantly dying over and over again. What the gameplay lacked was having any gravitas in the depth and variety to combat. While there are a few weapon types and some abilities, none of them changed up the combat too much. I found that it really only changed the range of my weapon I had equipped and didn’t really effect other moves and different abilities that could make a difference in changing up the gameplay.
There were also times where combat just felt unnecessary. Oftentimes running past the enemies was an easier option and paid off just the same as I was able to get to the next area in the same way and not worry about the enemies behind me. They will chase you sometimes and you do get to points where you are forced to deal with them, but many times you can find ways around the enemies.
At least the bosses were enjoyable to conquer and provided some enjoyable experiences. You would have to learn their patterns and once taken down would reward you with useful abilities that kept me intrigued enough to keep on pushing through. These boss battles were a nice break from the overarching story, which was bland and featured only a few cutscenes with nothing more than you having to try and interpret the scenery with an uninteresting narrative that doesn’t seem focused.
Another major part of the gameplay is the escort mission sections, and while some may think of Ico right away, Fall of Light is not nearly as in-depth as Ico or other titles featuring escort missions. Escorting your daughter, Aether, does not effect the game other than being a little tedious. You’re able to give her a few commands to either bring her towards you, tell her to stay put, or you can hold out your hand and she’ll grab it to follow you.
Fortunately, if she ends up getting killed she goes back to a checkpoint where you can revive her and continue on. In fact, anytime you die you will be sent back to the last checkpoint and have to find her again before continuing on. There isn’t much of a penalty, other than wasting your time when you do end up losing encounters.
I did find that Fall of Light does have worthwhile replayability with there being multiple endings, two difficulty settings, and an expansion with the Darkest Edition that features an all new dungeon. The biggest fault I had with Fall of Light though, came with the combat and controls with clunky movements and even having too much input-lag to make for frustrating moments. There were even times where I was snagging corners too much or getting stuck in the environments, leading to enemies sneaking up and taking advantage of me.
Thankfully, you can increase the brightness in the option menu as Fall of Light is way too dark for my liking, especially since I mainly played in handheld mode. I would recommend this because it can be hard to see ledges and falling will kill you instantly. I didn’t encounter much in the way of performance issues, but the framerate did stutter occasionally.
Overall, Fall of Light: Darkest Edition has an intriguing concept and moments of greatness, but is hampered by clunky controls, poor AI, and lackluster combat. Don’t go in expecting an in-depth RPG or Dark Souls experience and you should be fine to enjoy Fall of Light for what it is: a small isometric adventure with plenty of promise for possible future installments.
Reviewed by Josh Brant on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Digerati Distribution.