Do Not Fall

I can't speak to the rarity of a game using its primary objective as a title, but I can tell you, with the utmost surety, you will spend all of your time with Do Not Fall trying, desperately, not to fall. As a concept, it's simple, but in practice, it's one of the most difficult and yet satisfying platforming experiences I have had this year.

I am not using the word difficult lightly either. Do Not Fall's only purpose is to see your cute bipedal bunny protagonist skitter off into a precipice the likes of which have not been seen since Eddie Murphy was sent to get the Ajanti Dagger. Why? Why would anything want to hurt a cute bipedal bunny protagonist?

At this point, after spending about four hours leaping, dashing and falling, I'm not all that sure. From what I can put together, the bunny lives inside a drink dispenser/machine, and this furious game of move or die happens every time someone requests a drink. The stages are named after the type of beverage on offer, and they range from the very simple/tutorial-esque mineral water, to the volcanic island that makes a bottle of pineapple juice, to the deadly, and cold, Rainbow-flavored Shave Ice. Yeah, Shave Ice instead of Shaved Ice. The localization is not the greatest, with more then a few grammatical errors in the level descriptions. It takes nothing away from the game though, and with as little as there is to actually read, it's more funny then upsetting.

Each drink is made up of ten levels. The purpose of each level is to make it through the locked gate at the end, at which time you push whatever item is needed to make the stage appropriate drink into a big pipe. Each level has it's own set of keys, and generally, finding all the keys is necessary to finish. Once done, you are graded on how well you did, with falls counting against your overall score. And you will fall. A lot. With gusto even.

The main obstacles that DNF employs to ensure your demise are crumbling floors. With the exception of solid stone tiles, everything else, be it dirt, ice, or even fluffy clouds, crumbles to nothing as you step over it. It's a timed disintegration, lasting about three seconds, and makes maneuvering through the level as much an exercise in patience as in speed. Most tiles eventually reform, but not with any amount of speed that can be counted on to help an errant jump or mistimed dash.

This careful dance of starts and stops is at once fulfilling and aggravating, though it begins to err towards the latter as it reaches the end of its 70+ levels. As DNF adds in obstacles, like wind and ice, small faults in its technical execution receive an unwanted spotlight. Jumping is floaty and often imprecise, a problem I blame on the angle of the camera and the 3D nature of the world itself. Jumps that feel like they should make it often don't, and even the act of running turns into a game of chance when you're forced to squeeze between the edge of a tile and the slam-happy nature of any of the numerous moving obstacles. It likes to play a game of pixels, and the visual nature of the game, with it's cartoon cuteness and puffed art style, simply doesn't support gameplay designed in nanometers.

Thankfully, checkpoints can be found that added an extra life to your total, and allow you to start in the middle of a run, rather then all the way at the beginning. These tend to pay off a great deal, especially when you add in the gold bolt and silver nut collectibles that are scattered over and through every level. Gold bolts serve as the progression gates, with a greater number needed to unlock later drinks. Most are not very difficult to attain, though they are often placed in places that are off the beaten, or rather fallen, path. Silver nuts are all over the place and can be used to purchase goods from the shop, or if you find a level exceptionally challenging, you can purchase your way out of it after dying a few times.

Outside of being a reminder of just how great Ratchet and Clank games are, I would save up for the nut multipliers first if you absolutely must have everything. Other then those, and some extra life options, there is nothing else of value being sold, and I include the alternate character skins that are available. They offer no bonuses, and some, being of a larger character type, serve to obscure the ground and make getting around even more difficult.

DNF offers a hard mode that removes checkpoints from the game, and a local and online multiplayer mode. Local multiplayer is fun, with different modes that all work around the “not falling” mechanic, like soccer, and a score attack mode where you can knock other players off the world with timed dashes. The online is non-existent. Sadly, no one is playing this game, which means no one is playing online. I would imagine that they were the same game types as the local, but with no one playing, there was no way to be sure.

Do Not Fall was a bit of a pleasant surprise, offering some nice challenge with an interesting mechanic. It wears a bit thin towards the end, and there were many times when I felt the game, and not my actions, had cheated me, but I never felt like I was smashing my head against the wall. If you are looking for a good, solid platformer, and don't mind a cutesy aesthetic with almost no connecting narrative, this one is worth your time.

Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!