Not the kind of person you'd want to meet in a dark alley. Or anywhere else for that matter.
I genuinely enjoy being scared. It doesn’t happen often, but if a film or game manages to scare me, I look back on the experience incredibly fondly. Take Monolith's Condemned on the Xbox 360 for example; I was a gibbering wreck playing through the game, and now have a deeply rooted fear of mannequins and department stores. Saying that, the experience was tense and full of adrenaline; it provoked a reaction, which few games can do. As far as I’m concerned, games are far more effective in the scare department than film. Interaction is the key you see. With a film, you’re passive to the horror, but with a game, you’re involved, and that makes the experience a hell of a lot scarier.
After downloading 7th Sense's Fallen Ep 1, I started to prep myself for maximum scare-ability. I turned off the lights, popped in my headphones and booted up the game. My first few minutes with Fallen were a pleasant surprise indeed. I wasn’t expecting much from the game, and I was greeted with an impressive opening cinematic with stylish visuals and an even more impressive audio soundtrack. Set in a neglected prison, the game follows Roman Mendez, who is unexpectedly released from his cell to find the prison in a very strange state of affairs. So, the game looked fantastic, the story seemed credible and most importantly, the game had atmosphere. All the makings of a good horror romp were in place.
As soon as I took control of the character however, things took a turn for the worse. Gameplay wise, Fallen isn't terribly dissimilar to Resident Evil or Silent Hill, with an adventure game-esque inventory system to support the games numerous puzzles. On paper, Fallen ticks all the boxes of the survial horror checklist, but the game is severely let down in its execution.
The controls are clunky, and combat is really quite painful. The UI is frustrating and often results in redundant tapping trying to get to the correct screen. Putting the cancel button in exactly the same place as the confirm button was a strange choice. The game is riddled with bugs too; often your character will continue to run into a wall whilst you’re reading puzzle information, or the game will throw you back to the home screen without warning. The script, although not terrible, is full to the brim with all manner of spelling and grammar errors. There’s nothing game breaking in Fallen, but a plethora of smaller, annoying flaws amount to a frustrating game as a whole.
Fallen can find some redemption in its visual and sound design, which is of a startling high quality from start to finish. The pre-rendered environments look fantastic, and the cut scenes conveying the narrative are some of the best I’ve seen in an iPhone title. Where Fallen really succeeds however is in its ability to create atmosphere. The combination of dank visuals and eerie music create an atmosphere that 7th Sense should be commended for bringing to the iPhone’s comparatively small screen.
The standard explore-combat-explore formula is broken up by the odd puzzle that makes use of the iPhone's unique features. For example, a puzzle early on in the game requires the use of the accelerometer to throw a fire extinguisher through a glass window. These particular puzzle scenes are somewhat of a double edged sword. Although they break up the gameplay nicely, they can't escape feeling a tad gimmicky and needless. On the whole though, most of the puzzles in the game are competent enough, if a little uninspired.
I really like what Fallen is trying to do. I like its premise and direction -- it’s just that the game is let down in its execution. If 7th Sense had just spent a bit longer with the game to fix bugs and tighten the script, they’d have a really great game on their hands. Sadly, the game is plagued by too many flaws for any real enjoyment to be had. It simply feels rushed. I want to like it, I really do; it reminds me of my very first experiences with survival horror games back in the day. Fallen hides a lot of potential underneath its flawed shell, and with any luck the second chapter of the game will fix these flaws. Until then though, only the most patient and forgiving player will be able to see Fallen through to it's end.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 5
- Longevity: 6
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