Review – Iris.Fall (Xbox One)

Iris.Fall is a puzzle and adventure game from the NExT studio released in December 2018. Somehow that escaped my attention at the time, which is odd because that’s the kind of game that usually gets my attention. Now that it’s finally coming out on consoles, it’s gaining popularity. What better way to get to the bottom of this?

The story of Iris.Fall is not very exciting, but I will try to explain it as best I can. You play the role of Iris, who after waking up from a disturbing dream follows a black cat into the theater. She then embarks on a strange journey through increasingly surreal levels, solving puzzles with her mind and manipulating the medium with light and shadows. The more she ventures, the more the truths about herself become known.

I used to dream of being in many books, but not like this.

Iris.Fall is a puzzle game with a nice selection of challenges that Iris has to face. While there are some traditional puzzles to solve, such as the Rubik’s Cube at one point, many areas alternate between the normal world and the shadowy world. Objects moving in the normal world change the shadows we can see in the rooms. She can then move from this world to the realm of shadows and vice versa, interacting with the books she finds in each area. If there is an object she can’t reach in the normal world, she can instead try using shadows to create a ramp to that object. The play of light and shadow made me think of projection: At first light. But unlike this game, this is not the only mechanism used.

The shadow puppets reach a whole new level.

There is a very good selection of puzzles, and no two are alike. Most are incredibly simple, which is not necessarily a disruptive factor. Sometimes this can make for a more enjoyable experience and provide accessibility for casual players. However, there are some puzzles in Iris.Fall that are really difficult and whose solutions are unclear. Regular players who are not members (like me) will probably need to find advice on how to solve these puzzles. Unfortunately, the rhythm of the game can sometimes be affected.

It’s a shame that this game suffers from rhythmic issues due to the difficulty of the spikes, because the atmosphere is wonderfully creepy. Iris. Autumn is listed as a horror game, but that’s not the case here at all. It’s dark and full of disturbing imagery, but it’s definitely not a horror game. Think of the encounter between Alice in Wonderland and Geppetto’s workshop.

Enter the sinister puppet show!

The stop is littered with dozens of puppets, giant gearboxes and spiral staircases. Overall, this game offers a strong sense of unease and a dark and twisted tone. All of this is made possible by some of the greatest artistic designs I’ve seen in a long time. It has a simply amazing handmade artistic style. My only issue is that the photocopies are not as beautiful as the images in the game. Fortunately, there aren’t many to distract from the rest of the game.

The sound design is also very well done. There is no voice in Iris.Fall, but the sound effects are pretty effective. The soundtrack is legitimately haunting and unsettling, even if it’s not particularly catchy. You may not have the tunes in your head after you stop playing, but you will feel their dark and strange effects throughout the game. And in the end, that’s the most important factor.

The handyman won’t handle this.

Iris.Fall may not innovate in terms of gameplay, but what it brings to the table, it does well. There will be some rhythmic issues due to severe spikes in the difficulty of some of his puzzles, but for the most part he offers an enjoyable (albeit short) experience. This is another point worth mentioning, this game can easily be completed in about three or four hours. Some may think the $20 price is too high for such a short game, but I assure you it’s worth it.

Iris. Fall is absolutely stunning with her handmade artwork. Surprisingly, the few cutscenes present in the game are not as beautiful as the game graphics. This game mainly consists of various puzzles, most of which are incredibly simple. Although there are a few that are so set up that you’ll probably have to pass on them. Iris’ movement is a little slow at times.
There is no voice acting, but the music is haunting and fits the tone of the game. Although I enjoyed my time with Iris.Fall suffers from rhythmic issues due to the uneven difficulty of the puzzles. It is also very short and can easily be completed in three or four hours.
Last block: 7,5

Iris.Fall is available now for PC, Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.

Tested on Xbox Series X.

A copy of Iris.Fall was provided by the publisher.


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