Fall of Light was originally released on PC in 2017 to mixed reviews. Developed by a two people, Italian developer RuneHeads did an amazing amount of work for such a small team. I am going to be upfront, I was not originally going to cover Fall of Light: Darkest Edition. When I read it was a “Souls-like” I was turned off. Unfortunately the original writer did not expect us to get a copy the same week the new World of Warcraft expansion hit, so like any good editor and team player, I agreed to give it a shot. So bearing that in mind when reading this review, Fall of Light: Darkest Edition is not my cup of tea, but if you are a masochist who enjoys a challenge, it could be for you.
Fall of Light is set in a world that is engulfed in darkness after ages of light and peace. The intro shows off some of the interesting art design but right out of the gate I could see less attention to detail was used in voice work. The “old lady” voice who reads the intro and backstory sounds like a man doing his best granny impression but it just comes off as cheesy. Voicework aside, I did find the rest of the audio and sound for Fall of Light to be very well made. The rain and other ambient sounds are fantastic and definitely add to the atmosphere. The story players are thrown into is that of an old warrior named Nyx as he tries to escort his daughter, Aether, to the last remaining place where light shines. Aether is an “indigo child”, meaning she emits light. Very useful in a world smothered in darkness.
While a bit masochistic in its storytelling, the world Fall of Light is set in is interesting and this is amplified by the unique graphics and art design. It was reminiscent of ICO in that aspect as well as gameplay. Nyx must direct Aether but making her wait, or players can literally drag her along by the hand. This got me thinking, “Why doesn’t she just get a sword and be independent?” “Why not just let me play as her?” I just feel like this is a common trope we have seen too many times and the industry needs to move past the “save the princess” mentality.
Fall of Light plays in a Diablo style angled overhead view, but sadly the camera is static and this definitely caused some issues for me. Even locked in place, there was still a fair amount of clipping and objects not going transparent and causing unneeded deaths in a game already built around a challenging system. Gameplay varies depending on your choice of weapon, but I found it to be very clunky and unresponsive. Dodge rolling was imprecise and hitboxes are all over the place. Nyx has a health meter and thankfully eventually gains the ability to “heal” up. Even with this, I still found I died many times for no fault I could find other than the game not responding to my inputs. This is amplified in its annoyance by the fact that every time Nyx dies, he is restored without Aether at the last save spot, or sanctified statue. This leads to repeating areas over and over, with no gain other than learning the next section by repeating until you get past it.
I make no claims to be a very skilled gamer, I am proficient though, and have played Souls-like games many times. If a game is built to be difficult and I have no one to be blame but myself for a death, not a clunky mechanic, it’s understandable, but Fall of Light’s horrible hit box and combat aspects kept getting me killed. This just made me keep repeating the same areas over and over, losing all experience “souls” I gained each time, so unlike the recently released Souls-like side scroller, Dead Cells, where you can just keep grinding, gaining ground a little each time, Fall of Light just kicks you in the nuts and says “do it again!” On top of this, Aether must also be resurrected by the Nyx, many times you must clear out enemies before doing so, WITHOUT her added help. She provides some attack enhancements when alive and near Nyx, but many times she dies so often and quickly I found it easier to just leave her dead till I totally cleared the way to the next area, defeating her purpose. On top of this, she can also be kidnapped. It is just one more frustrating mechanic on top of many issues with Fall of Light: Darkest Edition.
After dying about 50 times and spending many hours trying to progress in Fall of Light I eventually put it down, frustrated and disappointed. While I understand the draw of a challenge that Souls-like games bring to players, I have always been a proponent for making games accessible to all skill levels with the option of a harder difficulty for those craving that fulfillment. What Fall of Light manages to do is create a beautifully designed world and interesting story but make it so repetitive and clunky that only masochists will be able to enjoy it. But hey, if you enjoy a challenge you may find a different experience with Fall of Light: Darkest Edition, and to each to their own. I’ll stick to games that don’t make me want to pull what is left of my hair out.
Fall of Light: Darkest Edition is available August 21st for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and coming to Nintendo Switch later this year. The original PC version is available now. This review is based on a PS4 code provided for that purpose.