The Fall has a lot to say for a game that doesn’t want to tell you what it is.
It wraps its narrative up in the pretense of AIs attempting to work within protocols to protect the humans they serve, but digging deeper it’s not very hard to apply its underlying themes to areas outside the field of technology. Taken in a different light, The Fall is potentially a dialogue of the dangers presented with the necessity to work within societal rules and expectations; to be who you were created to be, and serve the ones who made you without question of their intention or if it is indeed “right”.
Matters of the value of one life over another, abusing a system you’ve been placed in for your own needs, and whether the end really can justify the means are presented in such a way as to never be the sole focus of the story and pull you away from the task at hand, but they’re there, in the background. It’s entirely possible to go through The Fall and enjoy it as solely what it appears to be: an engaging sci-fi plot of a crashed pilot only barely hanging onto life, requiring his suit’s AI take control and attempt to find him help. But it’s the subtlety of the narrative that really stood out to me and made me pay closer attention and try to pry away at the layers concealing what the game was trying to say to me.
Ultimately it’s almost always yet another question. For all of The Fall’s heavy societal and possibly theological musings, it never quite arrives at the point of clarity. It made me think but at times I wondered if even it knew what the end result of all these ideas was, or if there was supposed to be one at all. And that’s perfectly fine, but at the same time there’s this feeling that it’s possibly trying to cram too much into a short experience and perhaps becoming a little bogged down as a result.
Of course this can all be waved away with the presumption that this is but the first part of three and everything The Fall wanted to say, or the things it didn’t quite get to finish elaborating on will all become clear in those ensuing games. There are parts of The Fall that were a little profound to me as I directed my character through desolate environments, flashlight barely cutting through the impenetrable atmosphere as weird shapes seemed the move in the background as sounds echoed around. They’re the moments that had me entranced with my monitor; the ones that made me glad to have taken the time to solve the occasionally convoluted puzzle to arrive at the moment I was currently in. They’re scattered about and can sometimes seem exasperatingly out of reach, but when you get there, they’re always worth the investment.