Game: Iris. Fall
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Genre: Puzzle Adventure Game
Reviewed on PS4
In Iris. Fall, you control a young girl who’s introduced while she’s having a nightmare involving, among other things, a strange black cat, and when she wakes up, she sees the apparent same black cat having intruded into her room. She gives chase and ends up in a strange house, where she has to solve puzzles to proceed forward and solve the mystery behind her dreams.
You are immediately introduced to your unique ability to move through shadows, which will help you solve this game’s many puzzles. The game is a sequence of puzzles, occasionally interrupted by cutscenes with no real context to them. By interacting with a particular book on the floor, you can move towards shadows cast in the background. This will allow you to move along them and pick up items you need to solve these puzzles. While these are not the only kind of puzzles the game offers, many of them do come down to finding a way to connect shadows so you can proceed to the next puzzle. This mechanic is quite well implemented by itself, though, as mentioned, not all puzzles involve you using this shadow power.
When you’re not using magic books to travel through shadows, the game more often than not throws traditional puzzles at you, such as connecting paths in switchboards or turning sections of what’s a giant Rubiks cube. These are a bit hit and miss, though, as they occasionally clash with the game’s overall theme and feel not organic. Fortunately, none of the game’s puzzles are so obtuse that you can’t figure out the solution on your own eventually. You would think this should be obvious for any puzzle game, but it can be relatively easy for developers to overindulge themselves in intricate puzzle designs. Nothing is sadder for a puzzle game experience when it’s so frustrating it forces you to go online for the solution rather than experience the enjoyment of solving it yourself. So I’m pleased that Iris. Fall has the right balance of challenge and fun to keep you engaged in solving these puzzles yourself.
Aesthetically the game is presented in a cel-shaded hand-drawn style with a mostly black, gray, and white color palette, which is quite fitting for the shadow ability theme and, in particular, to accentuate light sources shining on objects which cast the shadows in turn. The art style is quite simple but effective, though a specific section, later on, stands out as a creative, unique, and beautifully looking environment. The music is mostly minimalistic, only there to set the mood but not distracting. The story is mostly told through still images, and it may not be immediately apparent what’s going on. You are expected to piece it together on your own based on the cutscenes and subtle hints in the environment. It took me a second playthrough to fully grasp it myself.
The game is relatively short, though, so going through it again isn’t incredibly time-consuming (it’s also easy platinum if you are a trophy hunter). It mostly ran without any lags though I noticed some bugs here and there that may get you stuck occasionally. Reloading a checkpoint was the way to remedy this in every case, and fortunately, I didn’t lose a lot of time since the game autosaves frequently.
In conclusion, if you’re into environmental puzzle games, Iris. Fall will offer you a few hours of enjoyment. It doesn’t particularly stand out aside from a few interesting environments, but it’s compelling enough with its shadow traveling mechanics and the mood it sets. As mentioned, it is short though.