The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
As a lifelong fan of difficult platformers, I consider Super Mario Galaxy to be one of my favorite games of all time. That said, there’s one stage that I can’t stand. Luigi’s Purple Coins tasks Mario with collecting 100 coins on top of a floating, 2D model of his brother. The catch is, the floor constantly disappears below you as you step on tiles. This proves to be more stressful than fun, and it’s one of my least favorite stages in Mario history. Imagine that stage for the duration of an entire game, and you have an idea of what Do Not Fall is like.[Exercise]
Taking control of a rabbit that lives in a vending machine, your task is to collect keys in an effort to reach the end of each level. Falling floors are an omnipresent threat, but bulls, birds, and spiked balls are frequent obstacles. A time limit encourages you to move briskly, but the main threat is always falling to your death.
The action is viewed from an angled top-down perspective that isn’t conducive to fast-paced, difficult platforming. Great platformers make you mad at yourself when you die, but Do Not Fall often has you (rightfully) blaming the game for your failures. Dash jumps are necessary for long chasms, but many jumps can be overshot because gauging the ability’s distance or a platform’s height is difficult.
If you’re a sucker for punishment, the game features a decent amount of collectibles. Each stage has a few difficult screws to shoot for, and standard bolts can be traded for upgrades like an increased pool of lives. I can’t imagine taking the time to hunt down all of the screws, bolts, and individual level rankings; simply reaching the end of difficult stages left me with a feeling of relief rather than accomplishment. The thought is never “That was awesome!” It’s usually “I’m glad I never have to do that again.” The same sentiment holds true for its small assortment of multiplayer minigames, each of which features the same floor-dropping gimmick.
When done right, difficult platforming can be one of my favorite genres. However, it requires pitch-perfect controls, well-balanced difficulty, and a focus on skill. Do Not Fall isn’t broken in any fundamental way, but it does everything just wrong enough to be a mediocre experience.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.