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iPhone  header logo

Fallen EP-1

For: iPhone

But it gets back up again

Product: Fallen EP-1 | Developer: 7th Sense Studios | Publisher: 7th Sense Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Fallen EP-1 iPhone, thumbnail 1
I attended a screenwriting seminar once and of all the great storytelling tips I came away with there was one piece of advice that really stuck in my mind: beware the fear of being understood.

One of the traps many storytellers fall into is a reluctance to reveal to the audience exactly what's going on. They're worried they'll give away the ending too soon or, in the case of a good horror yarn as we have at the core of Fallen EP-1, the scares won't grab you if you know you're being stalked.

The thing is, no one ever leaves the cinema saying, "I didn't like that film, because I understood it," and the real challenge comes in conveying a gut-wrenching horror tale while ensuring the audience knows what's supposed to be scaring them. For all its great features, Fallen EP-1 is a little too reluctant to tell you what's going on.

Some kind of resident evil lurking

It actually makes great sense to borrow from a classic when it comes to cracking open a new genre on iPhone. Resident Evil played to the strengths of PlayStation very well and worked just as nicely on DS. Therefore, it's a formula that should serve iPhone equally well and Fallen EP-1 proves that to be the case.

Some of the animation is a bit wooden and the characters aren't exactly glowing with originality, but fixed camera angles atop 2.5D graphics add a superbly voyeuristic aesthetic to the game that puts you right there in the dilapidated prison. There's a strong sensation that you're watching from the shadows, or locked within your own cell while central character Roman Mendez wanders the dystopian corridors, which really gives wings to the ominous atmosphere.

One area Fallen EP-1 needs some work is in the switch between locations. With each new room comes a momentary delay between the change of view, breaking the momentum.

Jailbird blues

The game begins quite abruptly as a few riot-equipped prison personnel are mysteriously slaughtered and your cell door swings open to reveal a ransacked jail.

Naturally, you've got no clue as to what has just happened, yet you're thrust into play. It's all very formulaic: find an obstacle, wait for the (obvious) clue, find the right item, overcome the obstacle. It sounds trite when laid out like that, but for a survival-horror game based on exploration, it works very nicely.

Very basic puzzles involving express use of the accelerometer and touchscreen are chucked into the mix – tapping keys on a control board, picking locks, smashing glass – but these don't enhance the game as intended. Indeed, searching every shelf, trying every door and looking at every box becomes a bit of a chore, and the accelerometer sections fumble more than function.

On occasion you're assailed by a few off-the-shelf enemies, like the zombie dogs that have been so popular ever since Milla Jovovich killed one using only her thighs. Some basic weaponry then allows for an exchange of hits until one or the other of you is dead. Again, this sounds a tad poor, and in play it does suffer more than puzzle-solving.

The never-ending story

As a prologue for a new horror tale, Fallen EP-1 is off to a decent start. Its cagey story doesn't engage you as much as the developer hoped (in fact it has the opposite effect), but the game is salvaged by some superb graphics, atmospheric audio and absorbing, if overly rudimentary puzzles.

It might well take another episode or two for Fallen to really find its feet, but episode one sets some decent foundations.
Fallen EP-1
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 15 December 2009
Some visual glitches, disjointed dialogue and lacklustre combat thankfully don't manage to entirely spoil an atmospheric, visually impressive horror romp
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