I knew lasers would become more important in my living efforts than attaching them to the heads of dolphins, but I never thought they would become integral to one of the more intriguing puzzle games headed to PC this year. Black the Fall is a laser-based puzzle game set in a dismal world of communist Romania. Senshudo spoke to Andreea Vaduva, PR and Marketing manager for Sand Sailor Studio about Black the Fall and what's behind the face of this game.
"We had the communist regime for some years and people were forced to work in factories day and night. The authority was abusive and inhumane. The game is very much based on that," Andreea commented as a laser robot discovered I left my job post and blasted my character to smithereens. "You don't have any weapons, but you can manipulate machines. You can use [your laser] to force other workers to open up doors." Thankfullly, Andreea has had some experience playing the game (wink, nudge) so her expert hints allowed me to run through many factory rooms using the laser I stole from a guard near the beginning of the demo.
Using the laser, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Often times you're forced to bounce the laser off of certain surfaces in order to reach machines and contraptions you normally don't reach. One puzzle I had to command a robot to stop a moving conveyer belt in a specific spot just so I could bounce the laser to open a doorway. The mesh of environment and puzzle resfreshens these kinds of platformer / puzzle games, which borrow a lot from Counterspy and Oddworld. There's a level of interesting innovation where players have to run through tunnels listening for deadly steam vents. These are familiar puzzles with a small twist.
What's most striking is the visual appeal--there's a lot of play with shadow, light, and figure distortion under a heavy German expressionism blanket. Some scenes appear pulled straight out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, while sticking to a robotic nature with lasers, sentries, and automatons. It's much like a THX-1138-inspired struggle to escape the tyranny of the day-after-day struggle of surviving under an abusive hand.
When I asked Andreea if the game has a happy ending, she didn't want to reveal too much. Regardless, I want to see more of this dark puzzler. It releases on PC Q3 of this year and on console in January of next year. Keep your lasers focused.