The Fall Part 2: Unbound Review – Electric Dreams (PS4)
The late 2000s and early 2010s ushered in a new standard when it came to narratives in games. Thankfully, there is now a gluttony of options for those looking to be told an interactive tale as developers begin to utilize the medium’s unique storytelling potential. While there hasn’t been a title that truly revolutionizes the relationship between interactivity and narrative, Over The Moon’s 2014 sci-fi adventure game, The Fall, was a valiant effort at telling a different kind of story. But can its sequel, The Fall Part 2: Unbound, truly push the storytelling paradigm forward?
A System of Cells Interlinked
In an attempt to get on my good side, the game gives players the option to watch a short recap of the first game. However, by the end of its sequel, I thoroughly regretted not playing the first game outright. While the story of Unbound is small in scope and simple enough to follow, this is a deep character introspection that I would have gotten a lot more out of had I been there for the entire journey. The story follows Arid, an AI that separates from its protocols at the end of the first game. Arid is unbound, but the nuance of that particular fact will not be appreciated until the end. The developers at Over The Moon have crafted one of the best stories of the generation with incredibly witty and emotional dialogue while also simultaneously keeping the story focused on Arid and teasing at something more.
The problem here is that I found myself having to connect dots that were otherwise left to the player’s imagination instead of being strictly spelled out. In these instances, the narrative implied a larger story behind the confines of the digital world found in the actual game – a story that I would have hoped to see more of. However, it is understandable that the developers decided to keep the story more personal with a focus on Arid. While our main protagonist is great, it is the supporting cast that absolutely steals the show. The nature of these characters means that sharing my thoughts on them would ruin some moments of discovery, but what I can say is that they are other AIs, to an extent, and that each of them cross paths with Arid in an episodic-like fashion. There are so many quotes and moments that I’ve written down and really want to share, but suffice it to say that the story itself is worthy of a playthrough.
This episodic element works perfectly with the structure of the both the story and the game at large. Each artificial intelligence you come across incorporates unique thematic concepts as well as different environments, new characters, and the like. These characters go through similar hardships as the protagonist and there’s a brilliant twist introduced that adds weight to all of Arid’s interactions. The Fall Part 2: Unbound is one of the smartest interactive stories I’ve had the pleasure of playing through and you can just tell that the developers had a blast crafting this story. It’s witty, funny, dark, and emotional throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Point and Run
If the story of Unbound is the delicious icing, the gameplay would then be the horrible fruit cake that lies underneath. Do fruit cakes ever have icing? Thankfully, there isn’t a lot of playing to be done as combat sections are few and far in between. Besides floating viruses charging up to attack Arid while she blasts them away with ease, this is an adventure game through and through. While it’s straightforward to start with, I got a little frustrated with the amount of icons on-screen in the latter parts of the game. Coupled with the boring shooting mechanics, Unbound probably isn’t the best game for players who aren’t actively seeking great stories. Oddly enough, there is an interesting combat mechanic that is introduced alongside one of the side characters that really could have been retrofitted to fit the rest of the game. It could have even supported an upgrade system that would have made for a passable play experience alongside a strong narrative, but it wasn’t meant to be!
This is made all the worse when you consider the fact that The Fall Part 2: Unbound doesn’t have a lot of other things going for it. The game is full of bland textures and uninspired character models as well as average sound design, at best. Surprisingly though, I still feel like this is a case of a game that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Like I said, I can’t go into details about the story without spoiling one of its many spectacular moments, but it’s an adventure that is worth the ride solely for its narrative.
For those who find enjoyment in the intricacies of puzzle-solving adventure games, The Fall Part 2: Unbound isn’t any different to what you would expect. For those wanting a heightened action romp, you should probably stay away. But if you’re looking to experience one of the smartest, wittiest, and thought-provoking stories of the generation, then do yourself the favor and play through both the first game and Part 2: Unbound.
The Fall Part 2: Unbound review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.