Fall of Light was one of my more anticipated games of 2017. So, I was pretty thrilled when a copy slid across the ethereal surface of my existential desk. I have a particular love and fascination with Soulsborne games, and this seemed like it might fill the void between Dark Souls 3 and whatever new IP FromSoft is working on. That said, I also was careful to temper my expectations. I loved Darkmaus, but it wasn’t without flaws, and I figured this Indie might be similar given its isometric approach to gameplay. So, how does Fall of Light stack up to the Soulsborne genre of which it is a part?
The story in Fall of Light is pretty interesting, such as I was able to experience. The world has been cast in shadow and darkness and civilizations crumbled. The remaining people by and large have succumbed to madness. You are a knight, whose daughter radiates light which helps repel the darkness, both literally and figuratively. However, she is frail and creatures of darkness would love nothing more than to separate her from you and kill the light before it grows and dispels the darkness throughout the land. Your goal is take your daughter on a quest to see sunlight one last time. There is more to it, and that is definitely an oversimplification, but the lore that was written into this game was stellar in my estimation and the story was compelling.
8 out of 10
Fall of Light is an isometric action role playing game, and I found that to be a compelling medium for a Soulsborne game with Darkmaus, and no less so with Fall of Light. It makes for an interesting perspective and gives a little bit of a metroidvania type feel to the game despite being open world simply from a top down perspective.
Fall of Light forces you to adapt to the natural ebb and flo of Soulsborne combat while giving you a better overall vantage to plan out your next move. This is a very successful marriage between classic isometric ARPG cameras and Soulsborne combat/exploration.
As you would expect, proper timing, dodging, and parry/riposte are staples of the melee system. The type of weapon you use will determine your attack speed and the enemy types you face will largely determine which weapon you will be using, especially once you have found a pair of melee weapons that particularly suit at least two styles of melee (you can only retain two melee weapons at a time in your inventory). Shields are equally impactful. You can also find ranged weapons. The crossbow is my favorite. Like any Soulsborne game worth its salt, you will find better weapons as you go along. You’ll definitely need them.
Cautious exploration is the way to go until you’ve learned enemy placement, which doesn’t ever change. Either they are stationary or they follow a specific path. Once you’ve got that down, you can afford to be a bit more bold, but never forget that a Soulsborne game always punishes arrogance. Fall of Light is no different.
What really sets this game apart however is the escort mechanic. You will be escorting your daughter throughout the game. As long as she is near you, your power increases substantially. You can ask her to stay put though, sacrificing the buffs in favor of trying to clear paths so she doesn’t face danger. Both are viable and you’ll find yourself doing both alternately. Additionally, spirits will come and kidnap your daughter if you aren’t cautious. If that happens, you have to find where she is caged and free her. She will be quite vocal, so finding her isn’t too difficult, although the enemies guarding her cage might object.
In addition to weapons, you also have a lantern to help light the way. You gain a few special abilities as well that will have a big impact on your progress through the game. There are shrines found throughout that serve as this game’s version of a bonfire. It’s where you will spend souls to level up and just catch a breather. However, using them does come at the cost of respawning enemies. It’s worth it though to have the save points and such. Should you be killed, you can return to the scene of the crime to claim your lost souls, of course. You will often also have to find your daughter, who will stay where she was when you died (unless she is also killed).
While combat is pretty approachable, there are some notable issues with clipping, and more importantly, a giant difficulty spike. The enemy assassins with the shields in particular were far too difficult in my opinion. They never get stun locked and you can’t riposte because they will instantly duck behind a shield only to equally quickly stab you when you come out of your attack. They aren’t unbeatable, but I always felt like it was more luck and less skill when I did so. Issues like this definitely took their toll on my play through.
This is not a bug, but it was a comical aspect of gameplay that I thought I’d bring up. Once you aggro an opponent, it will literally follow you throughout the level until it finally catches up to you at some point or you enter a building, leave the map area, etc…this can lead to you having quite the entourage if you choose to try to run past enemies rather than engage them. Enemies can injure each other though, and so depending on how you handle things, a lot of work can be done for you at the cost of having to fight a large amount of enemies at the same time.
All in all however, despite some flaws in the system, this game handles pretty nicely overall and is fairly well what you could expect from an Indie Soulsborne experience.
7.5 out of 10
The graphics in Fall of Light are at times breathtaking, but always interesting and beautiful in a haunting and corrupted way. This is a world of darkness, and gloom is ever present. However, it’s the splashes of color that show that bits of light remain, that really highlight the dichotomy of the world. The level designs are nice and the architecture and character designs are also top tier. This is a really beautiful game.
9.5 out of 10
I felt the audio in Fall of Light was ideal for what the game is attempting to achieve. Atmosphere was shaped immaculately and the world itself sounded eerie in its mostly darkened state. This is a game where the audio definitely added from the game while being unobtrusive.
8 out of 10
At the end of the day, Fall of Light was a positive experience for me. The game itself is beautiful, the story engaging, and the gameplay fairly spot on, albeit with a few problems that set it back a little. For fans of Soulsborne games, I think you will find Fall of Light a solid entry in the genre. It can be a little unfair at times, but mostly preserves the integrity of the genre while presenting some new ideas, most notably the escort mechanic, which was handled brilliantly in my opinion. Expect a difficult but rewarding experience if you choose to leap in.
8.3 fragments of radiant light expressed through the purest of souls out of 10 possible. I think the light may have faded in the remaining 1.7….