All Walls Must Fall
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre: Simulation, Arcade, RPG, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 20/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
All Walls Must Fall is an isometric tactics game that’s set in an alt-future Berlin. As a time-travelling secret agent, it’s up to you to travel through time to stop a rogue element deploying a nuclear device that destroys Berlin in the future. With only a single night to avert the attack, you’d best get those dancing shoes on…
All Walls Fall is a techno-noir thriller set within an alternative reality where the Cold War didn’t end. The year is 2089 and for the last 150 years, both sides have used advances in time travel to subvert and counter each other’s moves. This stalemate is approaching a turning point as a rogue terrorist element has plans to detonate a nuclear device somewhere within Berlin. With this act of terror on the horizon, both sides scramble to send their agents back in time to not only avert the disaster but also gain an advantage over the other. And this is where you come in…
You play as one of these agents who’s been sent back into the past. The story takes place across various night clubs all set throughout a single night. To aid you on your mission you’re equipped with various weapons and skills which allow your agent to manipulate the world around them. It’s an interesting premise if not entirely original.
Gameplay is played from an isometric viewpoint. Set within various procedurally generated nightclubs you have to deploy a sense of planning as each wrong move eats up precious time – which is a huge factor throughout. As you progress through the game you’re able to upgrade various aspects of your agent. Everything from weapons to armour and even time manipulation skills can be purchased and upgraded. While each mission requires you to think at least two steps ahead, having a strong agent certainly eases the difficulty.
The main bulk of the gameplay has you performing the same mission over and over. From tedious chat-based mini-games to having to interrogate or kill the same target, everything repeats. While All Walls Must Fall boasts procedurally generated levels, they are all night clubs with little to no variation in between. After about 30-minutes of playing you’ve seen pretty much everything that there is – and done everything too. There’s a small variation to how the campaign plays out, but after two or three runs, you’ve seen every story arc.
Time plays a major factor throughout All Walls Must Fall. There is a tonne of brilliant ideas at play which makes the game feel unique but is let down via its execution (more on that later). It was always fun to speed up or slow down time to avoid patrolling guards or to avoid cameras while those around you didn’t have a clue. This however all comes at a price…yes, time!
Much like health and ammo, time is a resource that requires meticulous management. Every move or action costs an amount of time to perform which is then depleted from an overall pool. Perform too many mistakes or even exploring too much can cause you to run out of time. This then makes the game far more challenging as each stage becomes a neon blood bath of guns and bullets.
When it all works the game is very enjoyable. But when it doesn’t (which is quite often) it’s a chaotic and crowded mess. The control scheme is probably the game’s worst enemy. It’s incredibly clunky and poorly explained. I lost count of how many times I clicked on the wrong skill to then have to rewind time to try again – time I wouldn’t get back. The HUD can also be quite cluttered with skills, objectives and the combat display, all crammed onto the Switch’s display. This is one of those rare Switch titles that benefit from playing on a larger screen, but even then it isn’t perfect.
All Walls Must Fall does have its strong points and the visuals are one of them. Graphics are a mix of hand-drawn low poly 2-D images set on a 3-D background. It feels very similar to a board game design with you controlling the various character tokens. While each night club location is eerily similar in design, it’s quite a pleasing aesthetic. The only real visual issue is the aforementioned HUD clutter. As mentioned above, All Walls Must Fall benefits from playing on a larger screen. Naturally, this allows you to see everything in more clarity. But the downside is it also shows the hardware limitations of the Switch. It’s a real shame as the game isn’t something I’d say was a resource hog.
Much like the visuals, the soundtrack is one of the game’s better features. In a bizarre twist, the game is described as a ‘rhythmic-tactical’ game. This doesn’t mean that All Walls Must Fall relies on you to keep rhythm, but music plays a big part in crafting the atmosphere. It all adds an almost Tron Legacy inspired flow to combat as a cool techno beat pulses over the action.
All Walls Must Fall shows a lot of promise. It’s a near-flawless attempt at creating something different from what’s been done before. The tabletop boardgame visuals are a nice touch, and the soundtrack is ace. While the story is a bit of a letdown, there are some strong themes at play. However, what’s good is let down by poor controls and very repetitive gameplay. All Walls Must Fall is a perfect example of a game that needed a few weeks more in the development kitchen. It’s close to being something special, but unfortunately, right now it’s lost in time.
Rapid Reviews Rating
All Walls Must Fall can be purchased from the Nintendo eShop here.
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