The small team at Endroad has created a game that, while limited in scope, is a ton of fun to play, has a wonderful post-apocalyptic atmosphere, and is charming. In Fallback you play one of the remaining human survivors that long ago retreated deep beneath the surface due to an apocalyptic event. Unfortunately, robots that were created to serve and maintain the below-ground infrastructure have turned against their creators and either killed or imprisoned them. You now need to take one of the first plants found since the descent and return to the surface. This is our Fallback review.
You can tell that the developers have put a lot of effort into their environments as each area looks great and adds to the feel of the post-apocalyptic setting. While the arrangement of how each map interconnects changes after you die and have to pick a new survivor individual area layouts remain the same. At first, I was not sure about this particular design choice, but it allowed me to learn where the various paths forked and what ledges were accessible in each area. It felt great being able to develop muscle memory over different play sessions, eventually knowing reactively where to jump and where the module stations were located in each area.
Gameplay consists of you picking a class and starting your trek from the home base each time to explore The Eden. In total there are 3 regions to explore with progressively different and more difficult enemies. For players who are good to excellent at rogue-like games, you may find your total playtime quite short. I managed to complete Fallback in about 10 hours, and I am about an average to good skill level. The gameplay and animations are smooth and responsive. I do highly recommend playing with a gamepad or other console controller though, I tried with the keyboard controls and found it to be a pain and it somewhat ruined the experience initially. You have a few classes to pick from starting, each having a special ability, health rating, and shield rating. As you defeat each of the region bosses another class unlocks that will randomly come up in the random rotation of 3 options after you die. My two favorite classes so far have been the sapper who deals +50% damage on every third attack and the Biochemist who’s attacks do damage over time that ramps up with the number of charges you inflict on the enemy.
As you explore each region you will go about freeing prisoners and collecting the resource Vesta from defeated enemies. This is another area where Fallback shines as the character build options are quite robust. As you, free prisoners and subsequently die you can spend skill points to unlock passives that stay without throughout the life of your entire game and not just the short lifespan of one survivor. Beyond that, as you progress through the regions there are module stations located in each area. These stations will have a random set of 3 modules available of different rarities, what is available at a station can be upgraded through passive skills, and you can equip up to seven modules at any one time. The modules can give you abilities like stunning an enemy if you hit them from behind for 2 seconds or regaining health as you collect Vesta. With over 50 different modules and the ability to upgrade their ranks, the player has a myriad of build options to tinker with.
My only minor issues with the game are that the total playtime to finish is short, the music could be better but feels appropriate for the game/setting and while repetitive is thankfully low key background fare, and I would like to see some more options/gameplay types to promote replayability.
I found Fallback to be challenging, fun, and charming. The game has a great atmosphere and the gameplay is spot on. With so many options for building out your character as you progress through the different regions, I could see players challenging themselves by trying to complete the game using different classes and builds. Combine all this with a price of $9.99 USD on Steam, if you’re a fan of rogue-like post-apocalyptic games I highly recommend supporting the developer by giving Fallback a try.
A game key was provided for the purpose of review.
COMPARE TO: Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, RAD