All Walls Must Fall is a title that I’m pretty excited for. After playing an alpha build of Inbetweengames (former Spec Ops: The Line and Dead Island 2 devs) upcoming isometric tactics game, I’m left with feelings of intrigue and enthusiasm, along with a slight hint of shame on my end.
The first few minutes I spent playing the demo of All Walls Must Fall weren’t the brightest moments in my personal gaming history. The game began with showing me an explosion wiping out the city of Berlin in the year 2089, an event I’m tasked with preventing. In order to accomplish this, I was given control over a time travelling secret agent, leaping back and forth to different points in time of a single night. After being ordered to kill a target inside of a night club, it was only a few seconds until things went awry. Shortly after taking control of my character, I offended the bouncer of the club I was meant to infiltrate and was gunned down before I even set foot in the door I busted open.
Luckily, the game allowed me to undo the mistakes I made, giving me a second chance after my embarrassing death. Movement in All Walls Must Fall is all handled by clicking where you want to go and watching your character move along the grid based map. This made the game feel more like a turn-based strategy game, similar to Fire Emblem or The Banner Saga.
Setting myself back up at the start of the mission, I tried taking things a bit slower this time. Rather than barging into the club, I spoke to the bouncer sitting outside. All Walls Must Fall features complex dialogue trees with three possible positive results and three negatives. My conversation with the bouncer didn’t go all that well, triggering what I recognized as my first real experience with the game’s combat. It’s similar to the PC title, SUPERHOT. Time pauses as you enter combat, allowing you to observe enemy placement as well as the direction of incoming enemy attacks, giving you the option to adjust your movements and attacks accordingly. This is a system where time is always on the player’s side as the enemies aren’t given the same ability to freely move out of the way of incoming fire. After defeating all adversaries involved in the battle, the game replays through the fight from start to finish without pause, letting you review your actions in real-time. Another neat feature that I hadn’t noticed right away was tied to the game’s music. The movements your character makes along with any shots fired by you or your enemies all tie into the game’s background music, adding to it. This is a feature generally only found in music games such as Rez or DubWars.
Clearing my way past the first wave of guards, I proceeded to make my way through the club, checking every room for my target. The interior behind locked doors remains hidden until the door is opened, encouraging exploration. I did have a slight problem with finding these locked doors. The club itself is relatively dark and every room behind a locked door is completely blacked out, including the door itself excluding a small strip of glowing light. The first time I encountered one, it took me a few seconds before realizing that I was standing in front of a door at all.
After about a minute of searching, I found the room where my target was located and a shootout began between him with his guards, and myself. Even with the ability to see the shots coming at me, I was killed again after only taking out one guard. It was at this moment that I learned brute force isn’t the way to go about this. All Walls Must Fall is a tactics game first and foremost meaning there is no one way to handle a situation. Rather than rushing back into the room guns blazing once again, I managed to draw everyone out of the back room and onto the crowded dance floor. As the enemy searched around the room for me, I picked off my target and began making my escape, the guards alerted by the shots fired. I loved knowing that I cleared the game’s objective my own way, using no hints or suggestions from the game itself. Everything would’ve been much cleaner had I noticed the extra set of guards approaching from the opposite direction, resulting in me being surrounded as I was making my way to the mission’s exit point. Still, I managed to finish the task, just not unscathed as I hoped.
Players are given the chance to visit the game’s shop in-between missions through a menu screen, selecting from a variety of purchasable weapons as well as a way to carry multiple weapons on missions. I wasn’t actually able to test any of these other firearms out since though I didn’t have enough in-game currency by the end of the first mission.
The second mission in All Walls Must Fall began nearly exactly as the first did, but I had a different objective. Rather than trying to kill my target, I was to try to recruit them instead. When the mission first loaded, the idea of having to do everything again didn’t sound all that appealing. This time didn’t go like the first though. I knew exactly how to get by the club’s bouncer, saying all the right things that I learned from my previous failures. I wasn’t able to do the same thing with the second set, however, triggering the newly placed security system, resulting in a number of deaths. Unfortunately, my time with the game came to an end when I reached my objective but was unable to interact with him due to what I assume is a bug.
All Walls Must Fall helped to show me just how bad I can be at tactical games sometimes but even in my short time of playing, I was starting to understand the different ways that I could’ve used to make things easier on myself. What I find so great about this game though is that it doesn’t force me to change the way I play. Instead, the game encourages players through its level design to try to think of a different way. Even with the alpha, I know there a number of different things I could’ve tried that would’ve altered my experience with All Walls Must Fall and I can’t wait to see everything the full game has to offer.