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March 2018

I fell from Grace

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Deep Taiga
Release Date: Dec. 20, 2017

About Lauren "Feffy" Hall

I am a freelance writer based in Canada, where it's too cold to go outside; therefore, we play a lot of video games. I'm an expert zombie slayer (the virtual kind), amateur archer (for actual zombie slaying and general apocalypse purposes - it could happen), and a work-in-progress wife and mother (IRL). My claim to fame: I completed the original MYST without looking up cheats. It took several years. What other accomplishments does one need in life?


PC Review - 'I Fell From Grace'

by Lauren "Feffy" Hall on March 13, 2018 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

I fell from Grace is a retro-style adventure game that blends storytelling and puzzle-solving in a branching narrative style.

Buy I Fell From Grace

There's nothing quite like an indie adventure game, and Deep Taiga nailed it on its first try with I Fell From Grace. Deep Taiga may be a small company — a self-proclaimed one-man operation, in fact — but with the help of a few talented freelance contractors, it created a one-of-a-kind adventure game that's sure to please to puzzle lovers and story-rich game fans alike.

Not much is known about Deep Taiga, except that the individual at the helm of the company appears to really, really enjoy rhyming, so much so that the entire game is played out in rhyme. True to form, Deep Taiga's webpage, Instagram and Twitter accounts are also poetically inclined. While it's obvious that the individual behind the story and development of this game has a knack for clever couplets, a successful game developer can't rely solely on a gimmick. An intriguing storyline, engaging puzzles, and player immersion all need to come together to create a quality gaming experience. So in the spirit of the game, let me begin:

Maybe Deep Taiga can drop a decent rhyme;
But does it follow that this game's a good time?


At first glance, I Fell From Grace is a typical, run-of-the-mill 2-D adventure game: retro, a little quirky, and niche. You play the game from the perspective of the protagonist, Henry: a tired, sad husband who has made many mistakes in life, particularly with the love of his life, his wife Grace. Always too busy, always running out the door, Henry is never really there for Grace, even though throughout their relationship (which you learn about as the game moves along), she was always there for him. Grace is the polar opposite of Henry: She's a patient and loving wife who is always putting Henry first, and to add to the tragedy that is their relationship, she does all of this while she lies terminally ill.

The game kicks off with Henry waking up after falling asleep on the couch, and you are instantly thrown into the first puzzle, which brings me to my first point. For an adventure game, the puzzles were sometimes enjoyable, but were overall a little lackluster. To be fair to Deep Taiga, there are limited ways to utilize the environment in a side-scrolling title as opposed to an open-world exploration game such as Life is Strange. In I Fell From Grace, the puzzles were a tad mundane. They were fairly easy to solve, and while they did keep the story moving, they didn't leave you with a sense of accomplishment, which is something that puzzle fans enjoy and depend upon.

Another prominent aspect of the game is the rhyming — oh, the incessant rhyming! Within the first few minutes of the game, it's clear that the rhyming theme is sticking around. As I've mentioned, the entire game is played out in couplets — yes, the entire game. It doesn't let up once. I admit that I found it endearing at first, but after a while, it became a little annoying. As the game progressed, I started to feel like Vizzini from "The Princess Bride": "No more rhymes now, I mean it!" The rhyming began to feel pretty forced, and it even made it difficult at times to understand what the text was trying to convey, but I have to admit that writing an entire game in rhyming couplets must have been a pretty daunting task. Kudos to Deep Taiga on that one.

When it comes to the various aspects of the gameplay, I found that there wasn't much direction. You're not being led through the game by the hand, which is great, but conversely, the hands-off approach meant that you weren't really sure what you were supposed to do. I spent much of the game confused about random items in my inventory, certain that they were to be used for something, but it wasn't always clear what. At one point, I was carrying around a cinder block, an iron pipe, concentrated cleaner, and random drugs that I found in the mailbox, among other items. There were moments when Henry would "clue" you in and notify you that carrying around a cinder block or iron pipe might get tiresome. Yet, once you pick up the decidedly heavy item, there was never a word of protest about the weight or inventory capacity. This led me to believe that your inventory choices, paired with Henry's extremely mild reaction to said choices, made very little difference in how the game played out.

Apart from the inventory issue, there didn't appear to be a hint system. That is completely fine, but it essentially meant that you wound up traversing screens while randomly hitting the E key (the action button) with items in your inventory to be sure you weren't missing anything. It's not overly immersive, but it's also totally common in an adventure or puzzle game.

While I'm on the topic of the action button, the game starts off without even telling you that E is your action button. You can't even load a new game without knowing that you need to push E, and while this is not a huge problem for veteran gamers, a newbie would struggle to even start up the game without having to Google it first. It's not a great start to the experience!

The plot plods along well enough, and the game has an engaging storyline. Unfortunately, even with the story leading you in a basic direction, it was still difficult to know if you were on the right path, which interrupts the narrative flow. At one point, I spent about an hour exploring an apartment building while wondering if I was supposed to be doing something at home to tend to my dying wife or at work to ensure that I kept my job to support said dying wife. I didn't even know what time of day it was. Time in this game seems superfluous but simultaneously valuable. It was difficult to know at nearly every moment whether I was on the right path or wasting Henry's (and my own) valuable time.

The story isn't bad at all, and it's pretty heart-wrenching — or at least, it would be if the protagonist were likeable in any way. I wanted to like Henry, but he proved to be selfish and even cruel at times when it came to his feelings and relationship with Grace. It was a fairly one-sided relationship until poor Grace fell ill and then suddenly, Henry realized what he would lose and seemed to smarten up a bit.

Grace is a flawed character as well, of course, but she was definitely the more likeable of the two, even after her so-called life-changing "mistake," which Henry seemed to resent her for — even while she was dying. I won't reveal the spoiler, but you get the basic idea.

When it comes to the artwork, I have nothing but good things to say. The graphics in any 2-D pixel art game are rarely groundbreaking, understandably, but in I Fell From Grace, the art actually helps to tell the story. Achieving an engaging environment in a 2-D, retro-style pixel art game is no easy feat. The moment you begin, you are drawn to a bookshelf because of a twinkle on the screen. This subtle but obvious clue instantly engages the player to discover what the pixelated sparkle is all about, which is an instant grab for the player's attention.

When you weigh the pros and cons of I Fell From Grace, it's really not that bad. The story is engaging, even if the protagonist is entirely unlikeable, and the artwork, considering how important it is to the storyline and gameplay, is engaging. As an experienced puzzle gamer, I found the puzzles to be a little on the easy side, but they still kept me playing the game. The rhyming, while potentially annoying, does provoke the player to pay closer attention to the text and dialogue, and it's even comical at times, not to mention cleverly executed. While pointing out the flaws in this game was all too easy to do, there's no doubt that the game kept me interested and tuned in. There are several areas in which Deep Taiga could improve, but for a new company's first game, it's enjoyable enough to be worth the $15 price tag on Steam.


If you don't like the rhyming, don't fret;
I Fell From Grace may entertain you yet!

Score: 7.0/10

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