It’s quite rare for games these days to NOT delve into the standard, open-world, RPG, collect-all-the-McGuffins for days approach. So when something like Iris Fall comes along that’s so unapologetic about what it is, it really does capture your attention!
Walking Inside Walls
Iris Fall’s hook is of the ‘light & shadow’ concept. How these two elements intertwine being a major component of this title’s puzzle structure and overall tone. The way it works in-game, is that the protagonist can transport herself into the 2D-plane like Link from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. In essence, she can use shadows that she creates to walk over obstacles or to manipulate light fixtures into forming a desired object or shape.
For example, one of the puzzles requires you to deactivate some electrical switches in the distance, in order for the protagonist to form a bridge to cross. The concept’s simple, I know, but the diverse approach that NExT Studios adopted for this one mechanic is top-notch! Almost half of Iris Fall plays with this formula, and it never overstays its welcome or gets old either. Serving up new light & dark setups to frequently test the player’s perception and deduction skills.
Almost half of Iris Fall plays with this formula, and it never overstays its welcome or gets old either.
The thing is though, I could ramble on and on about how good this mechanic is, the way it works and what you can achieve with it, but then I’d be straight-up jumping into spoiler territory, and that’d ruin the whole experience…
But just take my word for it, it’s super fun!
Presentation, Puzzles & Problems
For the rest of the brain-teasers though, there’s a whole heap of practical puzzles on display. You’ll be fixing faulty wiring, moving upsidedown staircases into place, rotating a Rubix-cube… thing, and lots more! Iris Fall also does seem quite creepy-looking at first glance, but it really isn’t. The visual style is more in service of the light & shadow mechanic, rather than for any specific horror element. However, there are some spooky scenes that might catch you off guard.
Now, this may not bother some people, but Iris Fall itself is only about 3-4 hours long. And once you’ve completed the whole game, you’ll find very little incentive to return and explore. Unfortunately, the puzzle solutions remain the same upon repeat playthroughs, and there are no difficulty options available either.
I also felt that the amount of puzzles being presented was a little too much. It doesn’t give the player enough room to breathe, even when taking the game’s cutscenes into account. It’d be a lot better if the player could simply explore a few extra rooms, or try out some alternative paths, without having a puzzle constantly smacked in their face.
I also felt that the amount of puzzles being presented was a little too much. It doesn’t give the player enough room to breathe, even when taking the game’s cutscenes into account.
That being said, the puzzles in Iris Fall are masterfully crafted and actually do force you to think more abstract. Since there is absolutely zero text or dialogue in this game (besides the start menu and credits), paying attention to the surroundings for hints and clues is key.
Can’t Figure Out The Story Just Yet…
Though due to the lack of dialogue and format this title’s presented in, it actually makes this game’s story quite difficult to understand. As you’re limited to information from the occasional cutscene here and there.
So see if you can figure out exactly what’s happening to our main protagonist, because I certainly didn’t!
Funnily enough, I normally catch onto plots quite easily, but even after rewatching the cutscenes again… I still had absolutely no clue what was going on.
Just like when I play through the Kingdom Hearts series… *Ahem!* I’ll see myself out.
How Great Music Can Fall Flat
In terms of music, it’s actually quite interesting. Containing around 10 tracks or so, Iris Fall is definitely on the shorter side of OSTs. Though it does give off those classic Parisian vibes, with heavy use of the accordion and French horn, just like in the Professor Layton series, which I am a big fan of! The thing I found odd was that the music would sometimes be too far in the background of the audio mix, or rather have a distinct lack of music in certain areas entirely.
The music would sometimes be too far in the background of the audio mix, or rather have a distinct lack of music in certain areas entirely.
I normally have the opposite problem with games, where they want to play music in every scene, in every battle, in every possible moment… Sometimes taking away from the feel of a particular scenario. And in my opinion, the lack of apparent music has a similar effect here, except in reverse of course. I thought this aspect was definitely worth mentioning, as it became more and more pronounced, the longer I played.
So, is Iris Fall worth a shot? Well, if you’re looking for an array of unique puzzles in a short but sweet package, then for sure! Even though the quick 3-4 hour length may put off some players, and the overall story can come across as vague at best, it’s still a refreshing palate cleanser that earns top marks in the pure puzzle genre. Iris Fall’s music and visuals really help sell this game’s world and its depth of puzzles should keep you entertained, right up till the credits roll.
Iris Fall contains a great variety of puzzles for a quick 3-4 hour experience. However, it doesn’t allow the player to explore the gorgeous, black & white locales much, or provide a story that’s worth the short time investment. A solid puzzle game overall for those craving some fun brain-teasers.
Game by NExT Studios. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.