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Puzzles, puppets, and other unusual mechanical devices await players within the imaginative, yet short adventure that is Iris Fall, a 2018 PC title that has recently made its way to consoles. I have to admit, I tend to overlook games of the puzzle genre, mostly due to preference. However, having concluded my time with this one, I can honestly say that I’ve developed a new level of respect regarding both the visual and mechanical aspects, even just after a short few hours. While it lacks in any heavy story or background foundation, I found myself both distracted and content with that entirely, mostly due to the phenomenal art design and direction taken with this weird and abrupt adventure.
After waking from a vivid dream, a young girl is startled by the presence of a mysterious black cat in her bedroom. The aforementioned feline then leads her on a pursuit in the dead of night, eventually bringing her to the lower entrance of a looming, gothic-inspired fortification. Once inside, the duo seem to cross over into a bizarre, Escher-inspired labyrinth in the form of a tower or theater, riddled with puzzles and other unusual elements. Without hesitation, the unnamed girl begins her ascent in hopes of discovering a connection between herself and this peculiar world.
Navigating the floors within the otherworldly residence is a fairly linear experience from start to end. However, the intricate and wildly imaginative designs laid out in each room truly make it stand out from the next. This was certainly an aspect of this short experience that had my full attention, and easily one of the most distinct features of the game as well. I spent more time than I probably needed to in each area, only because I wanted to soak in the impressive, obscure ideas and detailed, monochrome inspired art style situated throughout.
The puzzles of Iris Fall are a clever mixture of their own, each differing from the next. The utilization of light and dark is a common theme between the majority of them, and it works quite well. Players are able to take control of the young girls shadow in some instances, assisting in the execution of a specific task at hand. Levers, object placements, and several other mechanical obstructions block any means of progress into the connecting area. Fortunately, the solutions to these unusual contraptions took little to no time at all, with the exception of one or two near the end of the story. Brief and cryptic cut-scenes were thinly placed, attempting to fuse an already confusing and very shallow plot.
Both the music and sound are adequate for the darker atmosphere of the game. Haunting piano scores and loud echos from shifting machine parts follow the players every step along the way. Being more of a visual experience in terms of the storytelling, dialogue is non-existent for the most part as well. In-game controls were fairly straight forward, and served their purpose with no issue. The only performance hiccup I experienced was during a specific puzzle near the end of the game, where the screen did freeze a couple times. Thankfully, the auto-save prevented any backtracking, and a quick console reboot solved the problem.
If you’re looking for a story heavy adventure, you won’t find it with Iris Fall, and that’s OK. The astounding level of detail injected into each screen had a way of deterring me from trying to piece together what’s going on. The final act does however deliver a conclusion with a twist, but I still felt it was underwhelming. Nonetheless, Iris Fall is one rabbit hole that is well worth losing yourself in, just for the visual experience alone. I walked away extremely impressed by both the designs of the puzzles and the environments, and though the concept of light and dark isn’t a new mechanic to games of the genre, the developers gave it a refreshing balance which never felt tedious or overused. Iris Fall is a brief, yet satisfying visual adventure that deserves attention and shouldn’t be overlooked.