Developer: NEXT Studios
Release Date: December 7, 2018
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: NEXT Studios
Developing interesting and engaging puzzle games must be difficult to develop or else we’d know of more of them. The genre requires the player to care about the world and progressing through it until the end. Although that sounds simple in concept, most of these worlds fail to gain the interest of the player, which could be the reason why these unique titles don’t show up more often.
Back in October, I wrote a preview on an interesting puzzle game called Iris.Fall by developer NEXT Studio. The game had some interesting puzzle ideas and an aesthetic that I absolutely adored. Now, after playing the final release of the game, I can say that Iris.Fall is definitely an enjoyable experience albeit a rather short one.
The gameplay for Iris.Fall is fairly simple where most of your interaction will be clicking on objects to interact with them and moving around with the WASD keys. There are indicators over objects that you can interact with, which helps in letting you know what is important for the puzzle. These mechanics made the game feel more focused since I knew what I needed to work with in order to get through the puzzles. Similarly, it directed my attention to assist with solving the puzzle at hand and made it clear to understand what was in front of me.
Throughout the game, there are a fairly wide variety of puzzles that range from simple to mildly difficult. However, a lot of the puzzles are spatial puzzles that require you to manipulate objects in order to play with the shadows that the objects make and/or change their orientation. The reason for this is because, as the little girl, you control the ability to transform into a shadow and enter the two-dimensional plane similar to The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. You can also use this ability to access objects or platforms that you wouldn’t normally be able to if you were still in the three-dimensional plane.
I enjoyed a lot of the puzzles in the game since each of them felt different enough from the others to keep things fresh. I especially enjoyed the puzzles that alluded to the overall story of the game since the story itself is a puzzle, which makes it feel like the character and player are piecing it all together as they go through the game.
The story of Iris.Fall is shrouded in mystery at the beginning since there isn’t much explanation as to who your character is or why Iris has found herself in this situation. At the beginning of the game, she simply follows a cat into a theater and notices that items in this theater kind of relate to her. This sense of familiarity with her surroundings translates into the puzzles and adds to the mystery.
However, as you go through the game you will uncover more details through the puzzles, environments, and cutscenes that will gradually paint a picture of what is going on. I definitely enjoyed this approach to storytelling since it kept me wanting to progress further and further into the game in order to make sense of everything for myself similar to how the protagonist is trying to understand things herself. The story also gradually gets darker and eerier as you progress which added to my curiosity.
Iris.Fall has a very beautiful aesthetic with the visuals and sounds really adding to the overall tone of the game. As I mentioned when playing the demo, Iris.Fall is like Alice in Wonderland meets A Series of Unfortunate Events. The game is dark, gritty, and gray, but also is mysterious with a touch of whimsy. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the various details in each of the rooms and especially getting into the music in the game.
While it only took me about two hours to finish the game (mainly because I’m not that great with puzzles), I loved all two hours of it. The puzzles were fun, the artwork was appealing, and my overall experience with the game was a treat. This game may not be for everyone since tastes in games vary, but Iris.Fall is only a couple hours long so I think it is worth checking out.
I highly recommend this game for those that enjoy puzzles and are looking for a short but sweet experience to pass the time. Here’s to hoping we see more from NEXT Studios and also more of Iris.Fall.
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