Fallen shows great potential as a survival horror series on the iPhone, but Episode 1 raises more questions than it answers, and the short experience doesn’t quite leave you desperate for more.
If you’ve ever played any of the Resident Evil or Silent Hill games on Sony’s 32-bit PlayStation, you’ll know what to expect here. Characters and enemies are rendered as 3D models over static 2D backgrounds, which allows for detailed, creepy environments.
A stellar soundtrack and handful of videos add to the atmosphere, which is the strong point of the game. Fallen looks and sounds like it could sit next to the classic survival horror games that inspired it, but it’s the story and combat that let it down.
Speak friend and enter.
Things start off promisingly, as your jail cell unlocks amidst the sound of prison guards being annihilated by monsters. Security cameras need to be enabled and keys need to be found to advance to new areas of the prison, with escape and survival your ultimate goal.
The main problem with the story is that there isn’t enough of it. While the small snippets revealed so far hint at something much greater, it’s hard to get too excited for the next chapter when there’s no real cliffhanger or strong characters to get attached to. The fact that the whole experience only lasts an hour doesn’t help either.
The translation is a another problem, and the error-ridden dialogue is always good for a chuckle but breaks the tension it’s supposed to build.
This wouldn’t be as big of an issue if there was a strong combat system backing everything up, but Fallen falters here as well. Episode 1 has no guns of any sort, so you’ll have to resort to swinging a pole at the same two enemies. This gets repetitive quickly, and there’s not much strategy to dodging attacks or positioning your character.
Where the hell this translation comes from?
Our final complaint is that there is no autosave system. Enemies can take you by surprise, and there is no way to save or heal yourself until they’ve been vanquished. If you die, it’s back to the title screen to load a game, should you have one saved. Taking a call will send you back to the title screen as well.
It’s not all bad, though. The puzzles are well done and we thought they made creative use of the touchscreen, whether we were digging through piles of clothes or unscrewing fuse boxes. Also, the production values are excellent, aside from the poor translation.
Fallen: Episode 1 shows that a good survival horror game is possible on the iPhone. If the developers can lengthen the experience, craft a more compelling story, and improve the combat segments for the next episode, Fallen could be worth exploring more.