After playing All Walls Must Fall for more than was probably necessary- perhaps even considered healthy- I believe I can finally say I’ve found my favourite game of November. For anyone who is a fan of the XCOM franchise, action – tactics games…even bearded time travellers who like to get down in hip-hop and happening German nightclubs, this is the game for you.
What’s That Smell?
All Walls Must Fall is an isometric action – tactics game brought to us by German developers Inbetweengames. It’s kind of like an isometric, strategy SUPERHOT, with a dash of XCOM and a hefty helping of Crypt of the Necrodancer.
Players take the reins of Kai, an agent who undertakes various missions throughout the nightclubs of a futuristic Berlin. Kai himself, well, he feels like that kid in school who was too cool for anything, looked away from nuclear explosions, wore leather in the middle of summer…you know the guy. Well, Kai is…well…like Riddick with a beard, bionic arm and a whole lot of sass.
Welcome to the Nightclub
Throughout each level, players generate time, which is stored in the bar at the bottom right of the screen.
Time is used to, well…undo the bad things. Say you’ve entered into a gunfight and taken a hit, players can rewind time and find another safe area to get to. Perhaps you’ve made a mistake during a dialogue sequence and you want to go back…time is money! It is also generated by exploring the level, defeating enemies and completing dialogues.
This mechanic was by far what made the game for me. After you get the hang of how to generate it and effectively dodge and take down enemies, you begin to feel like the Flash… except you’re a burly – bearded dude with guns. At the end of fight sequences, time goes back to when the conflict began and you get to see it all play out in real time. Again, it got to me and I felt like a total badass…yes, I am admitting that, but it’s what the game brought out of me!
Throughout each mission, you’ll be assigned different tasks such as gathering information; retrieving an item or assassinate a target. As the developers state, “the game features procedural generation” and “each playthrough will be different”. Well, from a player standpoint this is great! All Walls Must Fall features replayability and not only this, it also fits into the lore behind the game. A continuing Cold War era, where time travelling agents try to outmaneuver one another, so as you change the past and go back. Well, things have obviously changed and these are surely some devs who know how to handle paradoxes!
Lair of the Kai
At the end of each level, players return to the map screen. It kind of had a Payday vibe to it where you could choose which mission you wanted next, although there was no real indication as to what the mission would involve from the map screen. On this screen, however, there was also a shop. Players use the time that they have accumulated from levels as a sort of currency to upgrade Kai and also get new weapons for him. I stuck to a two pistol – gun slinging Kai because…well he has a beard and I went for the Max Payne theme. There are nightclubs and a whole lot of flirting… I had to!
After a couple of missions, you’ll soon find yourself having acquired most of the upgrades, so I do hope the developers also expand on this a little further. More weapons, new abilities, that sort of thing- maybe even cosmetic upgrades for Kai?
Legend of the Dialogue
Dialogue encounters are also pretty interesting, even if a little nude and crude at times. Some missions in All Walls Must Fall require Kai to speak with people in the nightclub to gather information. Actually, most missions also involve it just to get into the door and past the coat hanger man (this isn’t the correct term, but it doesn’t matter where he is now… how dare he try to disarm a veteran!).
Dialogues revolve around responses and how the player picks on what the NPC’s vibe is. You can avoid confrontations and gunfights by getting respectful, flirty or scared outcomes from dialogue and well… annoy them if you go the other way. More often than not, though, I was either being swooned or attempting to swoon some patron of the bar to get information. I don’t know was it my Irish charm or just something the developers have focused the dialogues towards. But that’s how it went. A really interesting part of dialogues though was the use of the undo mechanic. If you provoked a negative response, as long as you had time in the meter, you could undo your last choice and choose something else. Something we’d all wish for in certain games… I’m looking at you Witcher 3!
Where the Music At?
Another key thing I thought I’d briefly mention about All Walls Must Fall is the soundtrack. Inbetweengames have made use of some killer artists with this game, including; Jukio Kallio (Nuclear Throne), Ben Prunty (FTL, Darkside Detective) and Mona Mur (Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days). Now with a line-up like this, you can almost feel the vibe from the nightclubs in the game… I told you it was hip – hop and happening, even Kai likes to boogie at times.
Lament of a Player
Now before it seems like I’ve taken on work as part of their marketing team with all this praise. I have to point out a few things wrong with the game. Firstly, on one particular level there was a drone I encountered; whenever I killed it and finished combat, it would crash the game. I did send a number of error reports, as this happened about 3 times before I decided to just sprint through the mission. Another issue I have is more of a picky nature. I noticed that depending on how Kai stands, the bionic arm will change when he shoots at a certain angle. All of a sudden, his right arm would be bionic and then a moment later it would be his left. This may be a bug, but it was something I noticed.
This is It
All Walls Must Fall for me was a very interesting game. I will point out that it is in early access at the moment and it will only take you a few hours to clear the missions. However, there are also daily missions which allow players to compete with one another across the globe. I feel that this is a great addition as it’s something like in The Binding of Isaac, where I can just chill and play the daily challenge and compare my score.
Overall, I feel like this will be on my top contender’s list for favourite indie game of the year. There are some excellent mechanics, a great soundtrack, and good background lore. What I would like to see in the future, however, are the issues I pointed out fixed, a bit more added to the store, and more variety added to levels (enemies, new areas).