Fall of Porcupine is a delightful narrative adventure game on the Nintendo Switch that takes players on an odd little journey through the town of Porcupine. With anthropomorphic animal characters, charming graphics, and immersive gameplay it fits snugly into the ‘cozy’ game category and feels so at home on the Switch. Despite this, Fall of Porcupine is a thought-provoking exploration of themes such as loss and the challenges of modern healthcare. It never shy’s away from heavy conversation topics.
A Simple Visit
The gameplay in Fall of Porcupine feels ideal for the Nintendo Switch and revolves around exploration, conversation and solving puzzles to help care for the patients of St.Ursula’s hospital, Porcupine’s residents and your new friends. As you navigate the town and its hospital, you’ll engage in conversations with endearing anthropomorphic animal characters, unraveling their stories and uncovering their needs. Sometimes you might be asked to take a walk with a pal before ending up in an impromptu basketball game. Other times you’re asked to dress a patient’s wounds or prescribe medication. These are the puzzles you encounter which are cleverly integrated into the gameplay, requiring you to think creatively and use your problem-solving skills to assist. The simplicity of the gameplay design allows for a relaxing and enjoyable experience. A perfect cozy adventure.
Looking Pretty Healthy to Me
The graphics in Fall of Porcupine are adorable and easy on the eye, effectively using the autumnal aesthetic. The town of Porcupine is beautifully rendered, with vibrant colours, falling leaves, and welcoming interiors. The attention to detail in the character design adds depth to each animal’s personality, making them feel relatable and endearing. Whether it’s strolling through the streets of the town, exploring St. Ursula hospital, or wandering the woods with a pal, the visuals create a warm and inviting atmosphere that immerses players in the world of Porcupine. It’s an interesting contrast when I consider the overarching themes being touched on in Fall of Porcupine. It can be a really tragic and challenging game in places but it never really made me feel uncomfortable in its presentation. It has a story to tell and wants you to enjoy the almost handcrafted aesthetic of its world along the way.
Where’s the Stethoscope?
The sound design in Fall of Porcupine complements the graphical approach and atmosphere of the game. The soundtrack features a lovely selection of melodies that perfectly match the game’s themes and overall vibe. Each track is soothing and pleasant and helped pull me into the often tranquil environment of the town.
However, the game lacks any voice acting whatsoever. It’s not uncommon for indy games like this but it really could have brought the characters to life even more. While this omission doesn’t detract significantly from the experience, it would have been a welcome addition to fully engage players with the narrative. Players who find themselves enjoying visual novels and text-heavy narrative games will have a great time here but for the rest of us, there’s a lot of on-screen text to get through. I struggled with this at times but l I feel it’s unfair to judge the game too harshly on this point alone.
Tell the Doctor What’s Happening
The narrative in Fall of Porcupine shines as the game’s strongest aspect as it tackles themes of death and loss. The game doesn’t shy away from addressing the complex challenges of modern healthcare, shedding light on the pressures it puts on individuals and communities. It’s a challenging subject but not one the game ever turns its back on. Through poignant storytelling and well-developed characters, Fall of Porcupine raises important questions about empathy, compassion, and the human experience.
There are so many different routes Fall of Porcupine takes to try and broach the topic. From bizarre dream sequences, adventures with characters through cemetery forests and even the simplest of conversations at an old ladies’ hospital bedside. This is where the game excels. It’s wonderfully executed and in the interest of dodging spoiler territory, I’ll leave it there.
How Long Has It Been Like That?
Fall of Porcupine performs well technically, with a stable frame rate and minimal crashes. It’s been stable from the moment I first installed it the day after launch. Occasional bugs and glitches can hamper the experience from time to time but these issues are relatively minor and don’t significantly impact gameplay, but they can be slightly frustrating.
An example of this was going into the accessibility settings to try and turn on what I thought was a ‘tips’ type option. Whatever the setting did, it did it in a totally different language despite my playing in English. Add that to the fact that I didn’t understand what to do in a particular puzzle. There was no ‘hints’ option and no clear way to back out of said puzzle so my only option was to close the game, make a cup of coffee and come back later.
Some of this felt like it was a bit of a gameplay trap the developers hadn’t considered. Some felt like it was caused by an odd little bug. I imagine the reality is somewhere between the two.
Fall of Porcupine is a captivating autumnal adventure that successfully combines adorable characters, cozy gameplay, and a thought-provoking narrative. Its simple yet engaging gameplay design encourages exploration, dialogue, and puzzle-solving, which together make a genuinely pleasant and fun time.
The graphics beautifully capture the autumn aesthetic, and the sound design complements the visuals effectively. Voice acting would have added another layer of immersion for me, although this might not be a consideration for others.
The narrative stands out as the game’s strongest point, touching on important themes with depth and sensitivity and using some fantastic character work to get us there. Fall of Porcupine is a must-play for those seeking a charming and contemplative adventure on the Nintendo Switch and sits as yet another indy gem for the Switch library.
My recommendation is to snuggle up, dim the lights and play handheld.
You can buy Fall of Porcupine on the Nintendo eShop
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.