Review of the game Black The Fall – “Dystopian socialism”

Nowadays, more and more large publishers take indie developers with curious, unique and stylish projects under their wing. Square Enix also decided not to stay away from their colleagues and supported the Romanian studio Sand Sailor with their new puzzle platformer called “Black The Fall”. The game turned out to be gloomy with bright socio-political moments and difficult, but in moderation.

Story line

In fact, the very plot of Black The Fall for Romania is a sore subject. However, even communism is a sore subject. The game reveals all the fear and pain of the Romanian people. Under Nicolae Ceausescu, the country suffered too much from socialist totalitarianism, but at the same time the USSR was considered almost one of the main external enemies. As a result, it turns out that a kind of double hatred of the hammer and sickle is woven into the modern Romanian culture. Black The Fall is a dark, overly exaggerated story of what it would have been if Romania had survived communist rule in the 20th century.

► “Red (danger) and gray (hopelessness) in Black The Fall noticeably prevail over all others.”

On the other hand, it would seem that a great setting turns out, but no. The problem, first of all, is the monstrous pathos with which the Communists of the future are presented in Black The Fall. Therefore, the picture looks too wild and strained, even taking into account the real history. In the events of what is happening, it is not that difficult to believe, it is difficult even to be imbued with all of this.

The protagonist is a skinny worker who, along with hundreds of other exactly the same exhausted goners, pedal at the factory for days on end under the supervision of automatic turrets and fat, pot-bellied robotic drivers. And all this, of course, under the fluttering red banner.

At one point, the hero runs away from factories that resemble concentration camps and sets off to explore the surroundings, where it soon becomes clear that the rest of the population lives no better either: complete devastation reigns around, swamps are everywhere, the peace of the streets is guarded by turrets (of which there are more than lampposts ), and people are completely frightened, skinny and lifeless. For that in the future, Romania has a well-developed heavy industry, at least something pleases.

Game process

► “The factory the protagonist is running from is incredibly huge.”

Prior to the release at Gamescom 2016, the game was nominated for “Best Indie”, therefore it received an award for the best game design at the conference of the same indie developers “BIC” in Korea. And in this regard, the developers can only be supported, because the riddles in the game and the design of the levels are exemplary.

Nowadays, many modern similar puzzle platformers focus on the visual design of locations and focus on the plot, thereby pushing puzzles and all sorts of jumps into the background. In Black The Fall, the situation is different: the game is built just around the gameplay, so there is complete order with it – the variety and complexity are at a high level.

Walkthrough Black The Fall will be really varied. Even trivial problems like “bypassing a large robot” or “slipping past security turrets” are solved in different ways – everything is based primarily on the peculiarities of the environment. From time to time, you will come across really difficult moments (situations) in which you already want to or not, but you have to turn on your brain. For that, after the invented solution to the problem has been crowned with success, you experience a sweet feeling “oh, what a fine fellow I am, after all, not everyone will guess this!”. And this is the main indicator of a really good balance.

► “The guards will try to kill the hero whenever possible. Even if, for example, the hero does not work. ”

In addition, the levels in Black The Fall do not follow one single clearly developed formula, so something new is thrown in every time. Somewhere you need to get over a large area of ​​water on a raft without a motor and sail. In another location, you will have to merge with a crowd of faceless workers. A little further to move along a corridor full of dangers in pitch darkness, focusing exclusively on sounds. Of course, there are more standard adventures in Black The Fall, but the main charm is that they are made with high quality, and that says a lot.

And in addition to the standard set of movements, the arsenal of the protagonist was replenished with an indestructible robotic dog and a unique laser in the form of a pointer. The robotic companion is able to cling to special panels, swim and even fold into the most comfortable stool. The pointer, in turn, allows you to control this dog, although this is not all. Also, the pointer allows you to control the weak-willed slaves of the local regime, which is designed to enslave everyone, and in fact, this mechanic plays well in some places, which is commendable.

The levels in Black The Fall cannot be called large, so they do not have time to tire, despite the fact that the palette in the game cannot boast of a wide variety of shades. However, she should not do this, because totalitarianism, devastation and complete post-apocalypse are all around.

Atmosphere and graphics

► “Tutorials and various other tips will be given in the form of warning signs, which in turn will be scattered throughout the locations.”

Black The Fall is trying with all its might to shock the player. Tries to scare him with all these gloomy pictures of a cruel and gloomy totalitarian future. Only in the end it turns out to be a too stupid story. Video games give developers absolutely limitless scope for expressiveness, which allows them to embody a wide variety of worlds into reality. The only problem is that instead of a really stylish, seasoned world on the topic of some kind of corporate exploitation, as it was in the game Inside, the players get a too sluggish parody on the topic of dictatorship and post-apocalypse.

A wonderful project is spoiled by the Soviet emblems stuck everywhere and too evil, even in places bitter bile from the developers to the old regime – the game is overly and evenly painted over in black, which thereby shows, they say, there is not a single bright spot from which empathy could arise. Everything is simple and corny merging, so the game can’t even catch a little. In Black The Fall, there is no context, not even contrast.

► “Moving further through the levels, you will notice the original ideas of the developers and some references.”

Games like Little Nightmares perfectly demonstrate how the popular Limbo-like indie can present a truly complex world and show an equally emotional story. In Black The Fall, you don’t feel any depth or even drama, and even tension doesn’t arise. You play simply as a runaway worker and a robotic dog who systematically overcome all kinds of obstacles on the way to their dream – freedom. And, despite the fact that the interaction between these two characters is simply wonderful, there is no relationship between them either – it’s just a worker and a mechanical dog.

The players are not even given a reason to feel that in this soulless and hostile world of barbed wire and swamps, there are two unfortunate and outcast creatures who have found, albeit unexpected, but sincere friendship. And even a couple of banal animations would be enough. A few simple scenes would be enough, where a person returns to a robotic dog, not because he needs to solve another riddle, but because he does not want to be left alone and leave his friend. But no, the main character will send the dog under the bullets all the way, throw it at the millstones, and for this he does not want to either love or understand him at all.

► “Although the hero is hard to empathize, but for that the developers have perfectly shown all the weakness of the human body in the face of industrial industrialization and the strength of mind that only people have. It’s a pity that the hero doesn’t show it so often. ”

And even worse, it seems like Black The Fall is missing a chapter between the escape from the city and the ending. First, the main character and the robot try to break through the last security post, and in the next scene the robot disappears without a trace, after which it never appears again. And in the meantime, the dissenting fugitive was not only wounded, but also locked up in a cage in an unknown repression complex without any explanation. Sounds like a hack, not an unexpected plot twist.

Black The Fall looks pretty mediocre too. The graphics and design are difficult to compare with the same Limbo or Inside. Not to mention Little Nightmares. Needless to say, finding fault and complaining about this is useless, because every indie project gives out strictly what it can, but the visual component of the game cannot even be pulled out by stylization and music.


After completing Black The Fall, an ambiguous impression remains. After all, frankly, the game has an excellent balance between really smart and a variety of puzzles. The same goes for locations. However, Sand Sailor went too far with its hysterical political narrative about the greedy, evil and brutal communists taking over. However, if you are the kind of person who is not too sensitive to such things, then you can easily ignore the plot attempts in the game. Therefore, it will be possible to fully and completely enjoy the gameplay, but if this is not so, you are doomed in this game to grieve over missed opportunities and swear because of the developers’ too limited view of the old world order.

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