by Caitlin Roberts
reviewed on PC
Dark Fall made me a Lost Soul
You might remember the emails that were going around about a decade ago, where the message said for you to look carefully at a particular image, really concentrate on it, and you would see something unusual. The first time I got one of these I did exactly as I was told, and very nearly had my nose up against the screen trying to figure out what exactly was so special about this very innocuous-looking picture. I know I screamed, and I probably jumped a foot into the air when the picture I was staring at was suddenly superimposed with the terrifying image of a monster or zombie or something. I never did get a clear view of the thing. That first scare was a kicker. But by the time the third version of it had hit my inbox, I was suspicious and wary and when I was proved correct that it was another one of the screamer pics, I just thought ‘not that stupid thing again’.
Why am I going on about this when I’m supposed to be reviewing Dark Fall: Lost Souls (Yup, your editor is also curious about that -Ed)? Well, the thing is, this game does the same thing. Over and over and over again. And to be perfectly frank, it’s one of the true saving graces for this game.
What storyline? No, that’s not fair. There is one. Really there is. But depending on how you look at it, the plot is either far too linear and simple to be called a mystery puzzle, or there are far too many layers, shadings and ambiguous subplots intertwined in it for you to be able to make any sense of the direction the game is leading you in.
The simple view: There’s an Inspector (that’s you) and there’s this girl, Amy, who went missing about five years ago, never to be seen again. You’ve returned to the ‘scene of the crime’ to try to continue the search for answers. And there’s a creepy text-messaging stalker that keeps sending you confusing notes that you must decipher as you are prodded through an elaborate scavenger hunt for clues. The labyrinth-that-mated-with-a-kaleidescope view: You’re still the inspector, and Amy is still part of the hunt, but along the way there are bloody leeches, a weird Bone collector, what appears to be Amy’s mother, the mystery of four sisters that have also gone missing, flashes (flashbacks?) of an alcohol and drug overdose (courtesy of the leeches of course), flashes of being in an ER (presumably as result of your overdose), a dizzying set of timewarps where you get to meet the suicidal spirit of a woman thief from the forties, an abandoned baby from WWII, a gentleman whose mother is ill... I simply can’t go on, although of course there’s more.
Graphics and Sound
All in all, pretty darn good. But that’s coming from a non-expert. What else can I say? I enjoyed the layers of shadowing, the dark greys and black and browns with slashes of bright colour accenting the creepiness of the game’s backdrop. The sound too really helped to emphasize the creepy-crawly feeling that pervaded me every time I sat down to play this game. There were only two things I didn’t love, which were the frustration of trying to understand the whispers in the dark, which I suspect were Latin, but as they were indecipherable in any language as far as I could tell, I can’t be sure; and the voice of the Inspector, which (call me macho) was just to whiny and grating for the man I pictured him...me...er HIM! to be.
Scary as hell!
You’re never really sure what’s expected of you.