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Do Not Fall

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: XPEC Entertainment
Release Date: July 23, 2013


PSN Review - 'Do Not Fall'

by Dustin Chadwell on Aug. 20, 2013 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Do Not Fall is a comical action-platform game that puts players in the role of a fearless adventurer named Pipi who lives inside a drink vending machine.

Do Not Fall is essentially a puzzle-platformer with on- and offline multiplayer. You control a small, anthropomorphic rabbit across a series of stages that feature crumbling floors. The entire game is seen from a top-down view, and while everything is modeled in 3-D, it does feel like a 2-D experience. It's not the most unique concept, and in fact, there's another PSN title, Hamilton's Great Adventure, which was released a couple of years ago and feels very similar. Do Not Fall differs in the controls, which allow for more freedom than typically seen in games like this.

The character you control has complete analog movement, so you have the freedom to run around each stage as you see fit. You can jump and dash, so you can skip across platforms, jump to platforms, and dash across gaps on the ground or in the air. This freedom to move makes Do Not Fall feel more interesting than it is, but it's also a double-edged sword. Most titles that featuring falling or crumbling platforms from a top-down perspective stick to digital, single space movements, and you'll quickly understand why. With Do Not Fall, all that freedom to move often leads to a lot of falling, in part because the jumping isn't very precise and you're urged to rush through stages due to a time limit.

I'm not begrudging the difficulty in Do Not Fall, though it borders on the extreme halfway through the single-player campaign. My biggest gripe is that the controls are often clumsy or unresponsive, which makes it a more frustrating experience than it needs to be. The imposed time limit seems fair, and it's generally passable if you're not collecting all of the items scattered around each stage. You're only required to collect a series of keys to unlock the path to an exit, but optional items can be used as currency for unlocks, along with golden bolts that unlock more stages. Trying to hit 100 percent completion on a stage (after the initial world) is an exercise in frustration and annoyance.

I also don't understand the scoring system in Do Not Fall's single-player campaign. Scoring factors in the time to complete a level, the number of falls in a stage, items collected, and optional objectives completed, such as  breaking all structures, crumbling a certain platform type, etc. The emphasis on scoring seems to come from the time to complete a level, which apparently outweighs anything else. I could complete a stage, collect all bolts, finish the optional objective, never fall once, and still score an "F" if I was seconds away from running out of time. Likewise, if I rush through a stage and only collected keys, didn't complete the optional objective, and finished quickly, I'd score a "B." The weighting makes no sense to me, as the challenge is certainly reduced if you rush through the game without collecting items or completing objectives. It's an odd way to reward players for essentially playing poorly.

On the plus side, the difficulty progression in Do Not Fall's single-player campaign is well paced. While it can get extremely difficult at the midway point, it does ease you into the initial experience. Enemy types gradually become more devious, starting with simple rolling spike balls that you can't jump over, eventually making way for enemies that hurl projectiles at you. Even those platforms change over time, with different speeds of destructibility, forcing you to be one step ahead as you proceed, committing platform types to memory so you know exactly how much time can be spent standing still and planning a move. To break up some of the madness, you'll get the occasional resting spot that allows you to collect your breath, and the checkpoint system is also pretty fair. Loading is kept to a minimum, so even when you're forced to restart a level, you're not stuck with a lot of idle time before trying again.

The presentation side of Do Not Fall is severely lacking, from menu design to art style, and unless you're enjoying the gameplay, you have little reason to come back for more. The series of unlockables that can be purchased with in-game currency from collected bolts offer typical stuff, like art and reviewable cut scene animations, but there are a few gameplay items that affect the number of lives and other useful power-ups.

The single-player experience is far more maddening than fun. A lot of this stems from the game controlling poorly and unreliably, and it often tries to do too much at once. I'd commend Do Not Fall for thinking outside the box in comparison to like-minded titles, but the execution is poor.

The multiplayer portion of Do Not Fall fares a little better because it's a tad more imaginative in how it tackles the concept of falling platforms. Whereas the single-player side is focused on level-by-level progression divided up into a series of drink-themed worlds, the multiplayer portion attempts a few different modes. Some modes have you tag different platforms before your friends or race to unlock the most gates with collected keys, and even a soccer-style mode where you attempt to score a goal while the floor gives way.

Multiplayer supports up to four players on- or offline, but the online side was almost completely devoid of other players. I managed to pull off a few matches online with other folks, so if you don't have anyone local to play against, this mode might be less of a draw. Multiplayer is quite fun, and I wished the main game was composed of various minigame-style modes like this instead. The online games I played were pretty much devoid of lag, which is key in making this type of experience work, so if you are able to get a group of friends together online, the experience will feel pretty smooth.

Ultimately, I can't suggest Do Not Fall as a game that you absolutely need to play. It has some neat ideas, like the freedom of movement to complete stages, but almost every idea or concept is executed poorly. Multiplayer is the sole exception, but there's not enough in the multiplayer portion to keep you coming back to justify the $9.99 price tag. If multiplayer were more robust, or if it had an active online community, I'd say this might be worth a look. As it stands, Do Not Fall doesn't do enough to stand out from other, recent digital downloads. Unless there's a sale or free PSN Plus download in the future, you can pass on Do Not Fall's mediocre experience.

Score: 5.5/10

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