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Black the Fall: Puzzles rooted in history, current politics

In Black the Fall, an oppressed worker must

In Black the Fall, an oppressed worker must escape from a malevolent communist regime. Credit: Sand Sailor Studio

PLOT Help a machinist suffering from chronic oppression.

RATED T for Teen

DETAILS PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One; $14.99

BOTTOM LINE Challenging puzzles, murky messages.

Black the Fall is a puzzle platformer rooted in historical inspiration and based on the implications of real-world politics. Players take control of an overworked machinist who is stuck under the thumb of an oppressive communist state. You’ll have to sneak past guards and avoid detection while trying to escape from your working-class prison.

The industrial setting and minimalistic art style set the tone for what is to come, as the tiny machinist hops onto a stationary bike to trigger the first steps of his escape plan. You can even unlock the working-class-hero achievement if you stay on the bike long enough, but even the most diligent workers earn little for their efforts.

As you sneak your way past guards and carefully maneuver through rooms rigged with deadly robot patrols, you could get a sense of what an oppressive regime can feel like. The game’s developers, Sand Sailor Studio, designed the dystopian aspects of Black the Fall around their own experiences living in communist Romania during the reign of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief upon reaching the outdoors, only to find that the outside world offers its own set of challenges.

As you make your way through the deteriorating landscape, you’ll eventually stumble across a small robotic companion who loyally follows your commands and is crucial for solving puzzles in the game’s second act. The little fella is pretty much indestructible and helps to lighten the mood during your otherwise harrowing journey.

Some puzzles are quite challenging, but there are occasional hiccups with the player controls. Inconsistent jumping and maneuvering can cause your character to get hung up on objects.

In terms of atmosphere, style, and overall puzzle mechanics, Black the Fall hits the mark. However, some narrative aspects could have been expanded on to flesh out the deep personal message they were trying to convey.

— (TNS)

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