DO NOT FALL

Sony just started its annual Play event, where some of the top indies (and one random licensed title) get put on PlayStation Network, complete with PlayStation Plus discounts and a special bonus if you buy all the games in the event.  DO NOT FALL is not one of those games.  It just happened to come out the day the event started, alongside actual participant Stealth Inc.  It’s also not really an indie, per se.  It’s by developers XPEC Entertainment.  I get it.  Heh.  XPEC.  That’s like expect. They’re saying “expect entertainment, like, from the games we’re making.”  As opposed to what?  I expect every game to be entertaining.  It’s only when they don’t that I get pissy about it.

I didn’t do the five seconds of research on Google that would have alerted me to these guys’ non-indie status.  They’ve handled such franchises as Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Kung-Fu Panda.  That got me briefly excited, because I thought Kung Fu Panda was a pretty underrated little game.  Then I got unexcited when I found out they only developed the Wii and PS2 version, not the pretty decent Xbox 360 port.  Okay, so I totally screwed the pooch in selecting this game for review.  Unless it doesn’t suck.  Shockingly, it doesn’t.  DO NOT FALL is not bad at all.  It’s not much better than decent either, but at least I found a game that nobody is talking about to review.  Still counts.

do not fall

Behold: the least controversial screenshot any game I’ve reviewed will ever have. That’s what I get for accidentally reviewing a non-indie.

So the basic idea is DO NOT FALL is a maze-like platformer, with the hook being the ground crumbles beneath you as you run along it.  Most of the time it eventually respawns.  Occasionally it doesn’t.  Neat hook.  Original.  The crumbling floor thing is a common theme in games, but never has a game outright centered around it.  At first, I didn’t really care all that much.  DO NOT FALL gets off to a horribly sluggish start.  The opening tutorial stages show off the cutesy animal themes and cheerful music that just beat you over the head with adorableness so much that I wanted to kill myself.

But, it does get better.  In fact, once the game grows some teeth and the difficult ramps up, DO NOT FALL is actually a bit exciting.  Because of the crumbling block hook, you’ll sometimes go long stretches of a level without having a moment to pause, set yourself, and plan out your next move.  Thinking on your feet is the focus here.  Once you reach the third world, level design really takes off.  Worlds become more sprawling, keys get spread further apart, and having to lure enemies to their deaths by crumbling the floors underneath them while still having room to get where you need to go is actually a lot of fun.  When DO NOT FALL does right by its own idea, good times are had.

Unfortunately, numerous problems hold it back.  My biggest issue was perception.  When levels go from being flat to having height and  depth, I had trouble lining up jumps, because it really looked like the blocks I was leaping towards were straight across from the one I was on.  Or at least they did when I had about a second to glance over at them while plotting the course I was taking.  This issue comes up a lot from the third world onwards, and it never failed to frustrate.  It also doesn’t help that you can’t rotate the camera.  You can move it slightly left or slightly right, and you can zoom it out, but you can’t rotate it.  This was apparently done so that they could occasionally hide hidden trinkets behind objects.  I’m fine with that, if the amount of fun from that concept outweighs the amount of frustration not having a better camera option causes.  Not only is that not the case here, but the stuff hidden behind scenery glows so that you can’t possibly miss it.  I hate it when games screw up their concept and are condescending about it.

Controls are an issue too.  DO NOT FALL uses a full 3D game engine, but all the action should hypothetically take place one block at a time.  Because of that, I would think the D-Pad would be the preferable control option.  It’s not an option at all.  Thus, movement is imprecise and too loose to fully be comfortable while maneuvering the stages.  Often, the platforms you’re running across only have a width of one block.  This left me a frequent victim of simply walking off a ledge.  I can’t help but wonder if it would have played better if movement is was handled one full block at a time.  I honestly don’t know if it would have worked better or not, but the current scheme is problematic.  It was never a deal breaker, mind you.  Once you get over the learning curve of the physics (could take a while) and get a feel for distance, you’ll be zipping through levels with the only fusses being those there by design.

I can't help but think this was designed more with the phone market, or possibly Nintendo 3DS, in mind. Not that phones would have been suitable for DO NOT FALL.  I'm pretty sure this game combined with fake touch-screen buttons would have been a complete disaster.  3DS, on the other hand, would have probably been a better fit.  It might have helped with the depth-perception problems.

I can’t help but think this was designed more with the phone market, or possibly Nintendo 3DS, in mind. Not that phones would have been suitable for DO NOT FALL. I’m pretty sure this game combined with fake touch-screen buttons would have been a complete disaster. 3DS, on the other hand, would have probably been a better fit. It might have helped with the depth-perception problems.

There’s a lot not to like about DO NOT FALL, and I focused on the negatives perhaps a little too strongly here.  Trust me, there’s a lot more I left out, like the generic setting, the shop where items are far too expensive, and the difficulty going absolutely bonkers about two-thirds of the way through.  So I would like to close out by saying, DO NOT FALL is worth your money, because it does a lot right.  Level design isn’t always perfect, but when it’s at its most inspired, DO NOT FALL is a lot fun.  Plus, I really dug the concept here.  It took something that is so common a hazard in platformers that it’s practically a cliché and successfully built an entire game around it.  You don’t see that very often at all.  To make a mechanic that has existed and been stale since before I was born fresh and exciting is something to be admired.

Really, what DO NOT FALL could have used was polish.  Instead of fine tuning the campaign, the developers seemed to have spent their free time making an utterly boring series of online-enabled, multiplayer minigames.  None of them are fun.  All of them feel like rejected Mario Party fare with no connection to the main game.  That’s a shame.  If they insisted on including multiplayer support, a co-op mode with levels tailored for that would have been much more preferable.  I guess.  I mean, going off the family-friendly characters and environments, you would forgive me for assuming that DO NOT FALL is designed with the kiddie set in mind.  I’m thinking children will like this more than I did.  Considering that I did like DO NOT FALL, that might be significant.  So if you have kids, this might be a good purchase for them that you won’t get bored with yourself.  And if I’m wrong and they don’t like it at all, do me a solid and tell your kids the guys at PSNStores.com gave you the idea and not me.

imageDO NOT FALL was developed by XPEC Entertainment

Seal of Approval Large$9.99 thinks this is an almost certain nominee for the First Annual Indie Gamer Chick Award for Mediocrity in the Field of Generic Character Design in the making of this review.

DO NOT FALL is Chick Approved but not Leaderboard-eligible (non-Indie)

A review copy of DO NOT FALL was provided to Indie Gamer Chick to test online multiplayer.  If I had known what the online multiplayer would be like, I would have turned it down.  Another thing I didn’t research properly.  Anyway, the review copy was provided to a friend who had no input in this review.  The copy played by me was paid for by me with my own money.  For more on this policy, check my FAQ.

Advertisements

About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

One Response to DO NOT FALL

  1. Caelyn says:

    I really want this

    Yes

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: