Game Info:

Developed By: NEXT Studios
Published By: NEXT Studios
Released: December 7, 2018
Available On: Windows
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: single-player
Price: $14.99

Thank you NEXT Studios for sending us a review code!

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” An English idiom that is commonly said to refer to art—or pieces that have artistic value. It is a pretty interesting idiom because art can have many different meanings and can be interpreted in multiple ways. There are many people who can view a portrait of a field of flowers as something of a surface beauty, but other people may see it as the results of cooperation and hard work. I’m sure this is what Chinese developer, NEXT Studios had in mind when creating their game Iris.Fall.

Iris.Fall is a very interesting puzzle-adventure game that has the player control a girl named Iris, who follows a mysterious cat into an abandoned theater. The first noticeable aspect of Iris.Fall is that there are no exchanges of dialogue whatsoever, so the game’s narrative is portrayed through its visuals. The second thing is that the color scheme is mostly in black and white, except for parts near the beginning and the end. As Iris scales up the tower to follow this elusive cat, she starts to learn more about herself and that finding this tower wasn’t just a mere coincidence.

Many of the puzzles utilize the environment, namely light and shadows. Iris (for an unexplained reason) can traverse through the world of shadows by these peculiar books laying on the ground. Interacting with the environment by inserting and removing objects can change how the shadows are placed in the background, which is used to reach the next area. The interaction and environmental-based aspects remind me of a lot of point-and-click adventure games. It is rather fitting seeing as the game is entirely controlled by keyboard and mouse (or gamepad). There are some more traditional puzzles within (like a puzzle resembling a rubix cube), although they start to appear more towards the middle. Some of these puzzles are very simple and only require the observation of your surroundings—taking mere seconds to complete. Others will require more thought and may take minutes to complete. Out of all the puzzles, only two of them really stumped me but I was able to complete both of them without a guide.


Strong Points: Impressive visuals and atmosphere; interesting puzzles with a good amount of them not being too hard but not too easy either
Weak Points: Final set of puzzles are a bit weaker than the rest; narrative can be a bit confusing; movement is a bit sluggish
Moral Warnings: Some supernatural aspects due to the whole traversing through shadows

Visually, Iris.Fall is very impressive. The graphical style is cel-shading, with specific lighting to make the characters and scenery look like it came straight out of the pages of a picture book. I’ve always really liked the style of cel-shading as it makes the visuals age very well with games that used the style decades ago still looking good today. The visuals are further enhanced by the gothic style and monochrome style that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The theater props are very abundant throughout and look very authentic. The combination of light and style make Iris.Fall a very beautiful experience, even if the models themselves aren’t of the highest polygon.

Fitting into the whole theater aspect, the music and sound is absent for a lot of the journey. In many chapters, the only things you’ll hear are the turning of the gears, the steps of Iris, and the falling of dirt and dust when these unused relics are given life once again. The sounds are genuine, as they are created with real tools and instruments. I feel the absence of music in many areas strengthens the atmosphere as Iris is exploring this unknown theater, giving off a sense of uneasiness. When music is active, it takes the theater inspiration and uses string, piano, and soft percussion instruments. Most of the soundtrack is soft and simple, but when some scenes get more hectic, so does the music, with the number of instruments and usage of said instruments increasing in intensity.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 97%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Iris.Fall does have issues here and there. Even though the controls are very simple, Iris feels sluggish to move. She doesn’t start immediately moving as she has a bit of a delay. She also gets stuck on props you feel that she wouldn’t. On the contrary, puzzles are responsive. Going back to the first statement I made, the complete absence of any form of narrative in a way does harm it. Without going into too many spoilers, the narrative is strange, with the ending being confusing. I do, however, feel that this was done on purpose by NEXT Studios. With pictures and art being seen in different ways, the developers wanted people to come to their own conclusions about this adventure. I feel that my viewpoint of this is supported as when I looked through discussion about certain aspects, people saw reoccurring imagery such as the cat and a shadow bat through a different lens. Some saw the cat as a metaphor, due to Iris.Fall parallels to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Others saw the cat as a manifestation of “truth.” Many people have many different views on what the story is about and comparing your viewpoint to others is exciting, even if it doesn’t always work out as “intended.”

As Iris.Fall has no violence, the lack of dialogue means there are no crude words seen or uttered, and Iris herself has a very conservative appearance meaning no sexual content. The only questionable moral concerns are the supernatural aspects, and just like with the story, it’s all how you decipher it. It’s hard to say whether traversing the shadow world is magic or not. I feel that it is generally safe, but that’s only how I see it.

Being a puzzle game with an average length of two to four hours—depending on how good you are with puzzles, Iris.Fall doesn’t have much replay value beyond getting achievements you have missed. With amazing visuals and mostly clever puzzles that utilize a unique aspect, it is an experience that can satisfy most puzzle fans. The ending puzzles do have that “let's just get this over with” feel and are a bit weaker than the puzzles that predate it and the movement can feel stilted in parts, but the flaws are fairly minor when compared to the strengths. The experience may not be a lengthy one but if you were captured by the atmosphere and design, you’ll enjoy Iris.Fall.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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