En­joy­able, but bet­ter to be found in the genre

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -

I AM AL­WAYS ir­ri­tated when copy­cat games some­how man­age to avoid be­ing con­demned as gross pla­gia­rism by sim­ply pass­ing them­selves off as con­tin­u­a­tions of a genre, such as the fright­en­ing amount of Minecraft and Clash of Clans clones. Ad­mit­tedly, Black: The Fall could fall in to this cat­e­gory as it bla­tantly draws a heavy amount of ‘in­spi­ra­tion’ from the much-lauded Play­dead side-scrollers In­side and Limbo, but I gen­uinely feel that this de­but re­lease from Ro­ma­nian stu­dio Sand Sailor brings enough new el­e­ments to the ta­ble to nar­rowly avoid the chop­ping block.

While I don’t par­tic­u­larly like mak­ing com­par­isons be­tween games, there can be no deny­ing the un­canny sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween In­side and Black: The Fall. Ev­ery­thing from the mood, de­sign and art style comes across as em­u­lat­ing the bril­liant monochro­matic side-scroller that drew praise from crit­ics and fans across the world.

Where Black: The Fall di­verges from the In­side for­mula, it does so sur­pris­ingly well. The game is heav­ily in­flu­enced by the events that oc­cured dur­ing Ro­ma­nia’s op­pres­sive Com­mu­nist regime which lasted from the end of the Sec­ond World War un­til 1989.

In Black: The Fall’s ex­ag­ger­ated dystopia, you en­counter im­ages – like the gi­ant screens show­ing the hec­tor­ing vis­age of the supreme leader, with his high col­lar and swept-back hair, or the mass of work­ers labour­ing in unison, heads bowed – that have be­come overused clichés, but which are al­lowed to re­claim some of their op­pres­sive power here.

You play the game as a worker, us­ing your guile to es­cape this hellish land, ac­quir­ing other worker’s good will to aid your jour­ney, only to leave them be­hind with­out com­punc­tion.

An­other wel­come di­ver­gence from the Play­dead style is that once you get out­side – though it is a bar­ren waste­land – the slightly more up­lift­ing change in the colour pal­let goes a long way to­wards cut­ting through the op­pres­sive murk that oc­ca­sion­ally threat­ens to smother the game. True to the Play­dead style, there are a great deal of puz­zles that, while not ever truly chal­leng­ing, do pro­vide a pleas­ing sense of re­ward and progress.

The thing is, Black: The Fall is a good game, but it could have been bet­ter had not Play­dead al­ready re­leased two of the great­est side-scrollers ever made. While the story told in Black: The Fall is deeply per­sonal and res­o­nant with any­one alive dur­ing the Cold War era, the sense of threat and fore­bod­ing pre­sent in ei­ther In­side or Limbo is un­par­al­leled. A shock­ing, moder­ately en­joy­able ti­tle, Black: The Fall is good, but there are far bet­ter to be found within

Black: The Fall is in­flu­enced by Ro­ma­nia’s Com­mu­nist pe­riod.

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