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November 2018

The Fall Part 2: Unbound

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Over The Moon
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2018


PC Review - 'The Fall Part 2: Unbound'

by Cody Medellin on June 4, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

The Fall Part 2: Unbound picks up right where we left ARID at the end of The Fall, featuring new characters, new gameplay twists, and an even more engrossing story.

In 2014, we saw The Fall, a sci-fi jaunt that had players in the role of an AI attached to a suit that must find aid for its unconscious host. As a platforming adventure game, it had decent combat and some good puzzles, but the shock ending made people appreciate the title. The game had been announced as part of a trilogy, so the phrase "To Be Continued" was expected, and players were intrigued about where the game would go. Four years is a fairly long time to wait, but now we have the middle chapter with The Fall Part 2: Unbounded.

After an optional recap of the events of the first game, we see the AI of the suit Arid being sent to a facility to be dismantled and reprogrammed. Things seem to be going well until malfunction in the facility's wiring gives Arid the chance to gain sentience and give herself a new rule to follow: save herself. With her AI freed but her physical body still broken, she travels along the network in hopes of finding the one responsible for trying to delete her.

A good portion of the game is played out in the computer network, and both the level design and pacing are reminiscent of the Nintendo game Metroid. Players are going to do lots of backtracking in levels that contain floating platforms arranged in the same style as the classic game, and you'll use a gun to shoot doors open. Later on, you get some upgrades to open doors of different colors. While there are no boss battles, you fight off viral blobs that act as barriers before you can open a door and engage in a new section.

The network areas illustrate one of the more significant changes in the game: more emphasis on combat. You'll get more than a few of these encounters throughout the game, and the cover mechanics have been replaced with simpler run-and-gun fare. The action isn't as frantic because your sidearm limits the amount you can fire, and you're limited by an energy meter that governs the number of shots and if you can jump. The energy regenerates at a decent pace, but completely emptying the meter penalizes you with longer regeneration times. On the flipside, the enemy patterns are very predictable, so you'll know exactly when to attack. You also have an automatic lock-on, so you'll worry less about aiming. While the action is fine, those who don't care much for it can select an option to lessen its presence in the game.

The rest of Unbound consists of exploration, which is done in rather interesting ways. In the network, that takes on the form of opening new doors and discovering waypoints to let you warp from one spot to another. Once you find a host body, you control it within their own environments. In both cases, the point-and-click formula is modified so that you need to aim your light source like a gun at the given hotspots and use the available options. There are a few items you can pick up, but most of the puzzles involve performing the correct actions at that given moment.

While the puzzles are easy to deduce, their difficulty comes from trying to solve them — given the limitations of the host robot you're temporarily inhabiting. The first body you inhabit, a butler, provides a perfect example of this limitation. Despite his masters being corpses, he still goes through his normal routine protocol. Your conversations with him reveal some clues about the importance of his masters in relation to your own quest, but you can't simply take control of him and do as you wish. Instead, you have to come up with clever ways to make him break routine, so you can proceed with your quest.

It's situations like that where the story really takes off. In some subtle and not-so-subtle ways, you'll see a few different perspectives about androids and how they view themselves. Ideals like seeking uniqueness despite not being unique and trying to understand human behavior is something previous works of sci-fi have tried to tackle, but the answers here don't simply regurgitate prior answers and theories. The game doesn't overtly tell you this, but once you pick up on it, you'll give it your attention.

The only time you feel that Unbound is stilted is when the game slips into the final act as you regain control of the robotic hosts you've met earlier. Each of the robots' abilities are now gifted to one another, so the martial arts combat of the solitary artist, for example, can be used by the robot built solely for companionship. While that's a good thing, the puzzles have also been ramped up to the point where the solutions become rather obtuse, so you'll try every possible option to see what sticks instead of thoughtfully rationalizing a solution.

Despite the four years since the first installment, the presentation remains the same as before. The 2D presentation does a good job of showing off some nice details of the environment and animations for otherwise 3D characters. The game can be dark at times, but the light sources are used to good effect and add a sense of atmosphere that would normally belong in a horror title. Meanwhile, the soundtrack balances out the cold space of the network with the warmth and a little foreboding of the real world, and even though some of the vocal performances can sound silly at times, they're pleasant to listen to overall.

What The Fall Part 2: Unbound lacks in difficulty, it makes up for in intrigue. The transformation of narrative from horror to sci-fi makes you look at the series in a new light, and even though the questions about humanity and robotics have been brought up before, the game's take on them remains interesting enough that you'll want to see what's in store for the third game. The gameplay length is decent, and there are satisfactory combat and puzzle elements. If you've already checked out the first game, you should take a look at Unbound as well.

Score: 7.0/10

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