Fallen Kingdom Review

Review by seanthechinaman on Saturday, January 12th 2019
Click to play Fallen Kingdom

Fallen Kingdom is a game created by ethan2009

Platforming rarely takes precedence in platformer games. Action, puzzles and even story often come before platforming. This is inherently strange, as the creator is called the "platformer", but its slippery controls make it immediately apparent why platforming is a less favorable focus. So when game creators make the brave departure into platforming focused games, it can be both jarring and refreshing for the player. Fallen Kingdom by Ethan2009 is such an excursion into the wilds of platforming focused games, and an interesting one at that.

The game is introduced through a thug falling directly onto the player. This introduction fails to establish or reflect the gameplay to come. I am not particularly concerned by this, but a more apt introduction would have made the game more cohesive as a whole, and dropping enemies onto players is not a great way to begin a game regardless.

Following this slightly unsavory first impression, the game's glaring gameplay loop is made realized. The first real sequence involves activating a switch, running back, and then jumping up a precarious series of steps. This is a recurring sequence throughout, and its repetition only helps to enhance its flaws. However there is one pleasant break in this gameplay loop, in which the player is leaping across ice, and upon activating the switch, rather than running back, the area is repurposed as a fresh jumping sequence. While this sequence alleviates the mundanity of backtracking through explored land, it still suffers from the same fatal flaws that will be mentioned later in the review.

As much as I dread running back through the level after activating switches, the rationing of space is very well done. The level is really quite a small expanse, but Ethan inflates the map past its capacity through all of the ways the player will retrace their steps. Even so, most of this inflation felt more bloated than necessary, as if he was fattening the game's time up intentionally, making the player run back through the level for no reason whatsoever. There are many ways to flavor backtracking, areas can be repurposed creatively and impactfully, but in Fallen Kingdom this never really happens.

When the player isn't backtracking, they will be jumping up the same set of floating platforms in different areas of the level. All of these platforming sequences are largely similar, but even if they were diverse and creative, the punishment for failure is still far too excessive. I do not endorse unforgiving traps in games, and such unforgiving punishment for a fall is no exception. Early into the game, players can die just by missing a jump in a simple step sequence. Punishing the player to this degree for an easily made mistake encourages slower play, which is easily the least enjoyable method of play in platformers. This instance can be excused as it is so early into the game, but later in the game these harsh punishments are passed out just as generously, and will force the player to restart the entire game.

Restarting the game was tedious for me, as I have already stated, the sequences are largely alike, so going back into them over and over again only reinforced my resentment. There is a lot of potential in platforming focused games, even the first game acclaimed for its focus on platforming (Jump by Thrash56) had more variety than Fallen Kingdom. Some imaginative use of hazards would have elevated my thoughts on the game greatly, so I was disappointed by the dull design.

All of this is tied together by a fairly normal Sploder story. Your king has been stolen by invading outlaws and you must seek him beneath the ruins of his fallen kingdom before you are slaughtered by invaders. The story adds a sense of urgency to the gameplay, which clashes with the unforgiving punishments that encourage a careful and strategic way of play.

This game definitely deserved its feature, as it represents Ethan2009's potential as a game creator. Please note that I have only passed through two thirds of the game, so this review does not wholly analyse Fallen Kingdom. While I did have many qualms with its design, it is still very much worth your time.

(this review was an entry in my now defunct New Review Queue series, in which I reviewed requested games from Sploder members on the Community Forums)