At a time when retail releases are quite slow the downloadables keep on coming, this time in the form of Do Not Fall, a deceptively tricky and reasonably enjoyable puzzler from the folks at XPEC. Taking a cartoony style, the objective in Do Not Fall is simple: collect enough keys to open the gates through the level without falling down a hole. Only it’s not as straightforward as that.
It’s all a bit weird really. The game takes place inside a drinks machine, and your character needs to make their way through the level in order to produce the drink in question, be it water, milk, green tea or whatever else the current set of levels is based on. The big problem is most of the blocks you walk on will fall away quickly, meaning you either need to jump elsewhere or walk onto another square (which in turn will also probably fall away). Around this you need to collect keys to unlock gates, bolts to unlock later levels and complete objectives in order to get a decent grade when you’re done. It’s seemingly aimed at kids, but here’s one of the issues – it can get far too frustrating for a little’n to sit and enjoy for any length of time.
The angle doesn’t help… As a diagonally viewed side-on platformer some of the more precise jumps are made far tougher to judge than they need to be (especially up or down the screen), and with the nature of things falling away from you at every turn that precision is vital. It’s a shame really, there’s some decent challenging fun to be had here, but for prolonged sessions it’ll be most enjoyable for that narrow band of gamers that aren’t too old for the styling, but aren’t too young for the sometimes frustrating difficulty.
But I don’t want to make this sound worse than it actually is. There’s plenty to contend with on the levels, whether it’s bouncing sheep, roaming chickens or weird nun-type ninja things, and having to seriously think about where your next move will make your brain tick over a bit quicker than these types of games often do. The vanishing blocks do generally reappear a few seconds later, but that can be too late if your timing is off or you didn’t think ahead in terms of getting back from where you’re heading. Despite the awkward style and fiddly viewing angle there’s quite a bit of enjoyment in short bursts, and knowing you generally can’t stay still for more than a second at a time certainly makes the panic levels rise a little.
The real fun though is in the multiplayer options. While there didn’t seem to be anyone playing this online (a common issue with less popular PSN titles) you can get a few friends together and have four playing on screen at once. There are a few different games to play, from a football style game through to capture the flag type scenarios, all of which feature the same falling blocks which add an interesting twist to a common set of game modes. The fact you’re playing these with friends makes them more enjoyable by default, and the variety from the main single player campaign is more than welcome. Coaxing your friends into falling down a gap, or running round them to remove all of the blocks and giving them nowhere to escape to is a genuine laugh, enough to make this more worthwhile.
Generally though it’s difficult to know who would enjoy Do Not Fall the most. If you’re only planning on short sessions of 10 or 15 minutes at a time the occasional frustration and slightly samey gameplay probably won’t bother you much, but try to have a good long sitting on your own and it may well get a little tiresome. If you know you can get a few friends together the multiplayer options will keep you entertained, but launching alongside something like fellow-puzzler Stealth Inc hasn’t made Do Not Fall look any better for a solo gamer. 70 varied levels and fun multiplayer goes a long way to make this a decent proposition, but think about what you want from this before splashing the cash.
Reviewed on PS3