Iris.Fall is a puzzle game, developed and published by NEXT Studio, for the PC. The game is very atmospheric with a monochromatic design but falls short in its delivery as gameplay, puzzles, story and controls, for Iris.Fall will have players pondering their life choices.

Art Style

The art style for Iris.Fall is fantastic. The developers have deployed a monochromatic design with color sparsely plastered across the environments. The subtle use of color gives the player visual clues for navigation and some puzzle solutions. A major downside to the art style of the game are the shadows. With the game brightness and my monitor brightness turned to maximum, essential elements of the game were very difficult to see. Even with the overshadow in the game, it provides a unique atmospheric setting that is only hampered by the story and gameplay.

Puzzles

In Iris.Fall the player controls a young woman who must traverse an old theatre, guided by a black cat. As the cat guides players through the myriad of levels, elements of the level will become obstructed or impassible (even in games, cats are jerks!), which makes navigating to the exit a puzzle to solve. The player will notice books on the ground which will allow players to switch from “light” to “shadow” to better navigate the levels. Certain areas require players to manipulate objects in the game, so their shadows create a work-around for traversing the area. A prime example is the need to manipulate a rotating staircase, so its shadow creates a bridge across a gap, players may then switch to the “shadow” and traverse the gap to reach new areas of the map. This is the same concept for the game Contrast developed by Compulsion Games.

The puzzles in Iris.Fall are elementary at best, as players won’t feel smart from completing them. I would overthink the puzzles since I am used to games such as the Portal franchise or The Talos Principle which, after completing their puzzles, made me think I could take on Albert Einstein in a debate. The puzzles are far too simple, and players won’t feel as though they’ve accomplished anything after solving them. Puzzles include, as previously mentioned, moving objects for shadow navigation, vertically moving platforms to make a bridge and solving oversimplified Rubik’s cubes to match spot-lights with doors.

Story?

The story of Iris.Fall is there, though I have no idea what it is, as nothing is ever explained in the game. Players are treated to silent cinematics that, despite looking nice, will leave them saying to themselves, “well, that happened”. Contrast, the game that clearly inspired Iris.Fall, has a much more interesting story since it actually has a story. According to the Steam page for Iris.Fall the story is as follows:

“After awakening from a dream, Iris follows a black cat into a dilapidated theater, traveling back and forth through a strange labyrinth of light and shadow. As the story unfolds, Iris begins to realize that everything in this theater seems to have some kind of hidden connection to herself.”

https://store.steampowered.com/app/907470/IrisFall/

Controls

Controls in Iris.Fall are a mixed bag of normal functionality and curse, inducing frustration. When in charge of the player character and stage navigation, the controls are predictable and respond accordingly to player input. The only major gripe for controlling the player character is the movement speed, as the game forces players to walk at the pace of an arthritic senior citizen caught in the event horizon of a black hole.

Unfortunately, the controls only get worse when players must solve a myriad of puzzles. The amount of input lag during the puzzle elements of the game will have players thinking of very creative, non-child friendly, phrases. I would push the directional button to select the element of the puzzle I wanted to interact with, then the waiting game would start. Players will inevitably, push the indicated buttons repeatedly, which will cause players to overshoot solutions. I foresee many controllers, keyboards and possibly screens, being broken out of frustration.

When I first ran into the issue, I was yelling quite a lot, as being a game, interaction is the most important aspect of the experience. There is nothing more frustrating in a game than not knowing whether or not your input was recognized. Iris.Fall is plagued with atrocious input lag whether using keyboard and mouse or a gamepad. I am not sure if the latency is a bug or if deliberately included as some of the latency appeared to be tied to the main character interacting with objects while trying to solve puzzles. No matter the reason for the shoddy puzzle controls, it definitely needs to be patched for the sake of players sanity.

Iris.Fall has a decent foundation for its developers to improve upon for a sequel or new IP’s with similar mechanics. The art style is unique and visually striking as it is integrated with gameplay. If the developers fix the colossal level of problems mentioned, most importantly the controls, they have a recipe for success. Iris.Fall takes gameplay cues from Contrast, The Talos Principle and Portal, though it doesn’t quite have the finesse of its competition, making it feel lackluster and somewhat boring in its current execution.

Iris.Fall Review
The Good
  • Artsyle
  • Concept
The Bad
  • Input Latency
  • Simplistic Puzzles
  • Story
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Christopher T
Staff Writer

I'm an old timer that started in 1988 with Tempest at the Disney arcade; in 1989 I was given an NES with Contra and Super Contra, thus sealing my fate forever. I moved onto the Genesis, followed by the original PlayStation, PC (mainly just for DOOM) and the N64. I got a launch day PS2 settling for the PlayStation family of consoles until 2015 when I renewed my interest in the PC world. Outside of gaming, custom PC water cooling and car parts are life.