Beat-em-up titles on the iOS are kind of hit or miss. Very few have really nailed the gameplay, mechanics, controls and action needed to keep fans of the genre satisfied, but those that have did an amazing job. Mutant Fridge Mayhem, Combo Crew and Best Park In The Universe are a few that stand out above the majority of the failings in the AppStore. And now, we’re pretty close to adding another to that incredibly small list; Oddity’s new post-apocalyptic brawler, Fallen World.
You take control of a cybernetic ninja who’s been tasked with protecting another cyborg that can take down and dismantle the machine army. Yes, it is a little Matrix-y, but for fans of the cyberpunk genre, that is hardly something that’s considered ‘bad’.
Starting off, the tutorial does a great job of quickly and easily understandably explaining everything you’ll need to know about the game. Movement is controlled by tapping where you want to move to while attacking is done automatically by running into enemies. While this might sound like a turn off for beat-em-up and brawler fans, and believe me, it was kind of a turn off at the beginning of the game, but once you get further along [for me, it was when I hit stage 5], the controls really do wind up fitting the game, and having a brawler/beat-em-up that isn’t centered around button mashing is a refreshing addition to the genre. Along with the tap to move and auto attack controls, you’re also given 3 icons along the bottom right side of the screen. The first places a soldier and the second places a ‘Torrent Gun’ both of which are placed where you‘re standing at the time and both of which will help you to attack the onslaught of enemy waves. The third icon is your Wind Blast power. Your Wind Blast does a little bit of damage to the enemies, but its primary use is to clear the area of enemies, giving you a second to breathe.
In each stage, you’ll need to fight off wave after wave of enemies that are split up into 3 phases. You’ll face off against machines and other cyborgs, each offering up a different type of attack. While this doesn’t really play into any sort of strategy as different weapons are not required to take out different enemies, it does help to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. While there are some enemies that will stand back and attack your soldiers and guns, placing them all over the stages is pretty much what you’ll wind up doing while you run back and forth, replacing downed allies and trying to take out enemies before they reach the center of the stage where the young cyborg you need to protect is housed in a protective shield. Beating down enemies will earn you ‘Purity’, which is used to place soldiers, guns and use your wind power. Whenever you earn enough Purity to activate one of these, the icons light up at the bottom of the screen and a little blue orb will start to orbit around your body. You’re only able to have 3 Purity orbs available at once though, so using them as soon as they appear is a good idea. However, also keeping one around so that you can use your wind attack if things get too hectic around the cyborg you’re protecting. As you progress throughout the game, enemies get more abundant as well as stronger. Luckily, you’ll also be getting stronger as you make your way through the game by spending earned experience points on upgrades and other special abilities.
You’ll earn experience in-game by defeating enemies, but will also get a nice little chunk of experience if you can successfully complete each stage. These experience points can be spent in the upgrade shop to make your attack stronger, increase the number of enemies you can hit at one time or increase your movement speed. You’re also able to upgrade your soldiers, guns and wind attack as well as the center cyborg’s special missile strike that triggers automatically, her shield strength and the amount of ‘Purity’ which is earned each time an enemy is taken out. You’re also able to re-play previously beaten levels in case you get stuck and need some extra experience to level up a bit, which is always a nice addition to a game like this, especially given the gaming platform and audience.
The environments do change as you make your way throughout the game which does keep it visually appealing. However, each area is the same size and shape (square) and do not have any sort of environmental hazards or structures that you’ll need to avoid while running around the ‘arena‘. The graphics and animations are solid and very well presented, with the brighter items like your sword, Purity orbs, fire and more standing out against the dark backdrops and atmospheres. The physics work well in conjunction with the controls, though at first, getting comfortable with your character running around like he’s kind of on ice is something that might take a while. Once, or if, you do get comfortable with it, it’s more like controlling a floating character instead of a running one. Tightening up the running physics would probably make the game feel better, but it’s not something that really takes too much away or distracts from the gameplay as a whole.
GameCenter is not supported and there are no in-game achievements or leaderboards. There’s no time limits or actual scoring system, but if these were added, as well as GC and leader boards (along with achievements, of course), it could definitely add quite a bit of replay value, difficulty and drive to the gameplay. While we’re bringing up the negatives here, there’s also no auto-rotate for the screen and the game displays ‘up-side-down’ (making you hold your device with the home button on the left side instead of the right). You can turn the music and sound effects on and off separately, and there is an option to clear your saved data, but aside from that, there’s no difficulty settings and no added control options. Priced at $2.99 and being Universal, it does seem a bit bare. However, within the brawler genre on the iOS, this isn’t really a rare thing and the polish and addictive gameplay does help to draw your attention away from it’s shortcomings enough to justify the reasonable price-point. Hopefully more will be added to Fallen World, as it shows an incredible amount of promise and could very well stand out as one of the better titles within the genre. A few little additions would go a very long way here. But as-is, it’s still a game that’s worth recommending.