If you couldn’t tell by its title and creepy icon, DeathFall is a dark little game, one that appeals to the Castlevania-playing, Edgar Allen Poe-reading, True Blood-watching types. In fact, the game’s macabre atmosphere is its best feature. Once you start to play it, you’ll probably get bored pretty fast.
The goal of DeathFall is to guide a skull ever downward, collecting trinkets and avoiding spikes along the way. That’s it. The game is divided into levels, but if you take three hits of damage you die and have to start over from level 1-1. In its bony heart, DeathFall is a high score game.
To rack up a score that will make your friends jealous, you need to pick up trinkets as you fall. These trinkets are usually placed in a line directing you where to go to avoid the spikes. The trinkets also fit the dark tone of the game. They’re thinks like bones, pumpkins, lilies, vials, shells, and chalices. At the end of each level you pick up an organ– not the musical kind, but the anatomical kind: lungs, liver, that kind of thing.
It’s like playing the cover of a metal album.
Unfortunately, the game is too easy. There are hardly any spikes early on, and after you get a feel for the simple tilt controls, you won’t have trouble staying alive for 10 minutes or more, which is really too long for a high score game. These games are best when play sessions last short amounts of time (like in Canabalt) or when you can speed up the difficulty (like in Flight Control). After we went through a couple of runs in DeathFall, we found the early levels so boring that we ignored most of the trinkets in favor of completing the levels faster.
Part of the reason the levels are boring is that the environments repeat. You’ll see the same obstacles and platform placements many times in a single run. To break up the monotony, they could have squeezed in a few more gameplay ideas, or some kind of power-ups, or anything to keep the game fresh. But they didn’t. It’s a very ‘what you see is what you get’ experience.
Chances are that you’ve played a game like this before. Beyond the Gothic theme, DeathFall doesn’t add anything new to the genre. Younger children might be able to get past the repetitive nature of the game (if you’re okay with giving them a dark game), but anyone older than that will probably tire of it faster than you can say ‘Tim Burton.’