The Dark Souls formula has become so successful over the years that many games have tried to follow suit and replicate it. Games like Salt and Sanctuary do a wonderful job at providing a challenge, but also balance the game to still be fair to the player. Some games try to execute the same formula but end with failing. Fall of Light is one of those games. The game attempts to present the same difficulty of play while offering an interesting and unique story. Sadly, many other aspects of the game become a real issue and get in the way of any possibility of making the game memorable.
In Fall of Light, you play as Nyx, a soldier destined on taking his daughter Aether to the last place in the world still cast with sunlight. Traveling through a world consumed by darkness and fighting through an onslaught of enemies, you’ll stop at nothing to help her see the light one last time. Aether’s body illuminates the light, which strengthens Nyx against the forces of darkness. Whenever the two are near each other, it allows Nyx to do more damage and grants additional perks. The concept sounds interesting, but one will quickly notice how flawed the very nature of the game can be once the two are apart.
What I Liked:
Side path exploration – Exploring off the beaten path may deem some possible reward in Fall of Light. There’s a 50/50 chance that you may be rewarded for your curiousness. Some paths lead to a dead-end. Others will lead you to a chest containing a weapon, an upgrade for your amulet or even the possibility of opening a gate that acts as a shortcut around the area. Exploration even rewards access to other statues that can be consecrated by Aether and act as a save point.
Story and Side-Story – The entire main story of Fall of Light is interesting. What aids the story further is the side story that is presented when visiting certain statues around areas. Both of these stories work together to fuel the motive and the concept behind the main story and give players a sense of prediction to what exactly may be going on. Furthermore, the game offers up to three different endings to further reveal the story, so there’s more for the player to work towards unlocking even after completing the game once.
What I didn’t:
No Stats/Leveling System – The biggest flaw that Fall of Light comes from the lack of a leveling system or any way to increase your stats. After you collect the amulet, you can collect souls from enemies which when maxed can be consecrated at a statue to strengthen your character. The game’s idea of strengthening is by giving you one more health bar. You don’t do any increased damage, nor does your stamina increase. This is a huge issue, as it never allows the player to become any stronger offensively, and players must rely on being their weak self throughout the entire game.
Weapons aren’t unique – Players start with the standard sword and shield that most games offer. Along the way, players will find new weapons in chests and on the ground. There are both one-handed weapons such as maces and axes that can be picked up, or two-handed weapons such as halberds and hammers for the player’s arsenal. The problem with the various weapons is that they have no real differences between them. One-handed weapons are all a four to five hit kill and require the player to be right next to their enemy. Two-handed weapons are a three to four hit kill and can be swung from a foot away from the enemy. Better versions of each weapon can be found throughout the game, and are rated by how many plus symbols they have after the name (such as sword ++). These weapons also seem to do no extra damage. Their only difference appears to occur from how likely the perk attached to the weapon will affect the enemy,
Aether is useless – Let’s be frank. Aether, Nyx’s daughter, is useless. She has no way to defend herself, nor does she have any way of aiding you. She moves unbelievably slow, and if you run too far ahead of her, shadow monsters come out of the darkness and kidnap her. Really, if you’re not telling her to stay or holding her hand to guide her across areas, she is so dense that she’ll run right into a spike trap or walk straight into a fire. If Aether is hit by anything just once, she dies, and the player is required to go to her ashes and revive her. Its an endless cycle of annoyance as you constantly need to babysit where she is, and what she’s doing.
Backtracking – Backtracking becomes an issue early on, especially if you die (and you will!). When you die, you’ll be teleported back to the last statue you consecrated. Aether will not be with you. You will be required to head back to the place you died and revive her. This mechanic becomes a real nuisance if you died far away from the last save statue and between a large number of enemies. The player is unable to do anything in regards to consecrating statues or resting at bonfires without Aether. The only thing he can do is fight. If you run out of healing charges, you’re just simply out of luck until you revive her and make it back to a statue.
Broken Combat – One of the most crucial aspects of Fall of Light is unbelievably broken in a bad way. Combat is one of the biggest aspects of the game, so you would expect it to be fluent. Unfortunately, enemies hitboxes are broken much of the time you’re fighting. You can expect to be standing right next to an enemy, swinging a sword straight into their body and still missing the swing completely. Shielded enemies are the worst. They will be in midswing with their shield to the side of their body, and though you swing right at that moment, the game registers you’ve somehow hit their shield. Sometimes it seems like the player’s hitbox is larger than it should be, as some enemies can swing from a distance and the hit connects. The entire aspect is just broken.
Clunky Gameplay – Fall of Light is developed using the Unity engine. The game has some detail, but not overwhelming to the point that it’s pushing the limits of your Xbox One. Which is why it doesn’t make any sense that the game runs the way it does. The gameplay isn’t smooth; it’s clunky most of the time. Swinging a weapon or rolling on the ground has a short delay in response. Enemies seemingly forget their programming a lot and stand in place, frozen. This enables you to walk around an entire area killing enemies and getting soul experience with no consequence. Other times, if there are three or more enemies on screen, the frame rate drops considerably lower than it already is and trying to register a hit during this time is near impossible. The most frustrating aspect of combat comes from certain weapons attacks. Any press of the light attack button will cause the weapon to swing double what it’s pressed which can be fatal in some situations.
The story behind Fall of Light is very interesting, and the idea of trying to make it play out somewhat similar to a game like Dark Souls would have been unique, had it actually worked properly. The main issues with Fall of Light stem completely from the main mechanics of the game. Combat is clunky due to broken hitboxes. Having to babysit Aether and escort her around everywhere constantly makes the game feel slow. Not being able to save or do anything without Aether with you is absurd. The weapons all behave relatively the same, and there’s no way to level the character to your strengths and weaknesses. The enemies and bosses appear broken much of the game, as they stop moving and just let the player attack without retaliating. If the issues of the game were fixed, it would be an honor to go back and play the game just to continue experiencing the story. Unfortunately, in the present state that the game is in, its impossible to recommend Fall of Light to anyone.
Rating: No Appeal
Fall of Light was developed by Stage Clear Studios and Runeheads and published by Digerati. The game released on August 14th, 2018 for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.