Shedding Light In the Darkness of Iris.Fall

Puzzling through the fight between light and darkness

There is something captivating about the nature of light and darkness. At an earlier age, we grow cautious of the unknown hide behind the veil of night. That is the realm of uncertainties and obscurities, where the imagination invents things to fear. However while darkness, for a time, can hide light, a small flicker of luminescence can push back the void just a little further and reveals what is, reducing boogeymen to their impotent forms. Light always reveals what is true and what the shadows would fight to hide… but we will ever be the same once we truly see what the light illuminates? That, my friends, is the essence of the game we will be discussing today. This is our review of Iris.Fall.

Iris.Fall comes to us from Chinese developer NEXT Studio. Dubbed as a gothic horror puzzlers, this artistic adventure uses a mainly monochromatic palette with sparse color for accents. It rounded out by a mix of cell shading and the quirky design of the game which draws on themes of light and darkness.

In Iris.Fall, you will follow the adventures of a young girl name Iris as she awakens from a nightmare, foreshadowing the events that are about to take place as she follows her cat into a derelict theatre on a stormy night. As she enters the theatre, Iris finds a magical tome which allows her to move between the light and darkness of the rooms she is exploring. With this tome, Iris will use shadows to bridge otherwise impassable chasms and use light to expose what is hidden in the darkness. 

The controls are fairly simple with Iris.Fall. You move around the map using WASD keys and click on objects to interact with them. Because of the nature of the color palette, NEXT Studio uses small white dots to mark items that can be interacted with and icons which will appear next to objects that can be manipulated. You also have an inventory which you can store items within for later use. 

Like most puzzlers, Iris.Fall teaches you the main puzzling mechanics of the game: playing with light and shadows to manipulate each room, releasing your pathway forward. Puzzles begin simple and progress into more and more difficult ones. Some puzzles require you to use the shadows to build bridges which others use the light to blot out what lurks in the shadows. Some puzzles have environmental clues, but not every one is so easily dispatched. Iris.Fall does make you work for solutions.

While there is no text or narration, the story of Iris.Fall is told through the journey. You will get glimpses of the past through pictures and cutscenes of Iris’ memories. This will allow the player’s observations to inform them as to what is happening around Iris in this weird world. For those of you wondering about longevity, it took me around five hours to complete the story. I want to talk about that for a moment without revealing too many spoilers.

Iris.Fall handles the light and darkness motif very well by using the environments it creates to tell the story it tells. As I said in the introduction, light always truth, however, just because truth is revealed does not always mean it is accepted. Iris.Fall uses this concept in a pretty ominous way. What does the light reveal once it falls on the theatre, the mysterious tome, and on Iris herself? Can those truths be accepted and what are their implications? That… I will leave you to discover.

Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.

COMPARE TO: Gorogoa, Inked, Light Fall

Iris.Fall is an artsy puzzler that uses its environment to tell a weird and occasionally unnerving story. Using light and darkness for everything from telling that story to puzzlings, this is a game worth checking out. There is little to critique, other than some minor pathing issues and a small bug experience by accidentally skipping a puzzle. If you are looking for a puzzle-solving adventure that will keep you on your toes, Iris.Fall is well worth your time.
  • Thoughtful puzzling using light and shadow 
  • The artsy aesthetic creates a bizarre but fitting setting for the story
  • Non-narrative storytelling makes the game accessible to more audiences
  • Satisfying in its five hour length
  • Some of the pathing feels odd
  • One puzzle glitched, but a restart fixed the issue
Written by
Born in the heyday of mullets and the El Camino to a tech-foward family, Damien (a.k.a. Dame, PastorDame) quickly embraced the reality that “normal” is just a setting on a dryer. Damien is a pastor by trade and loves talking with anyone who is interested about life, God, and video games (in no particular order) - so, much so, that he and fellow MMORPG/GameSpace writer Matt Keith (Nexfury) create a podcast dedicated to that conversation. At the end of the day, Damien is a guy who loves his wife, his Mini Schnoodle, and crafting gourmet bowls of Mac N’ Cheese.

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