Originally released for PC back in 2014, Sand Sailor Studio’s dystopian side scroller, Black the Fall has finally arrived on PS4 and Xbox One. Black the Fall is a bleak, mono-tonal title that has you guide a machinist to freedom from his dead end existence working in a factory. With ‘totalitarian state’ tones and themes, Black the Fall is a heavy experience but one that still has some beautiful visual and thematic moments.
Admittedly, the game is quite short but you still feel like you’ve gone on quite an emotional journey through the game’s many varied districts. From the claustrophobic factory at the start to the more open and welcoming amusement park, the team in Sand Sailor Studios really have done a great job of capturing the atmosphere of each of these varied zones.
Your journey through Black the Fall is never really made entirely alone yet you don’t actual team up with a partner per say. One of the gameplay mechanics allows you to ‘control’ or guide your fellow inhabitants in this ominous world to help you on your way.
As a straight up platformer, Black the Fall is quite competent in executing what it sets out to achieve. The gameplay never really feels over-complicated, which is a good thing. With its simple yet easy to remember controls, you, as a player, always feel like you know what to do once you’ve got your bearings in an area. Things become that bit more complex when you come across a ‘control module’ which allows you to control the attention of other co-workers to help you continue on your journey to freedom.
After benefiting from the help of your newly found control module and your factory co-workers early on in the game, you soon come across a dog-like robot who displays unconditional obedience and love and will carry out any task you ask it do. This dedication goes to the extreme as it can even be ordered to jump into gears to allow you to make it across safely! It’s quite heart-wrenching to watch as you know you’re going to have to return to save it only to use it again to carry out even more heart-wrenching tasks to help you on your way.
The visuals of the game are the some of the most bleak yet beautiful I’ve ever seen. Similar to the art style of Play Dead’s ‘Inside’, Black the Fall has moments that are like pieces of art in themselves. From gorgeous yet depressing factory levels to more bright yet bleak outside areas, the art style of the game is truly captivating.
In the end, I really enjoyed my time with Black the Fall. It’s a clever and beautifully crafted experience and one which leaves your heart aching more than once given its overarching themes and inhabitants succumbed by ennui and despair.