An­other ex­pla­na­tion for Black The Fall’s slightly thrown­to­gether feel may be that it be­gan life as some­thing much more grandiose, a more straight­for­wardly fan­tas­ti­cal epic with gun com­bat and gear craft­ing, com­pa­ra­ble in feel to Amiga clas­sics Flashback and An­other World. Among other things, the orig­i­nal pitch en­vis­aged a uni­verse in thrall to pseudo-com­mu­nist Ma­chines, and would have fea­tured three fac­tions, change­able NPC al­le­giances, a rep­u­ta­tion sys­tem and a re­cur­ring neme­sis in­spired by Moby Dick. What’s here oc­ca­sion­ally feels like a re­arrange­ment, late in the day, of those ma­te­ri­als. If the shift to a more di­rected ex­pe­ri­ence with a stronger doc­u­men­tary fo­cus was ad­vis­able, given Sand Sailor’s rel­a­tive in­ex­pe­ri­ence and size, the idea of a sys­temic sand­box game dressed up like a Play­dead ti­tle seems worth re­turn­ing to.

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