This review was originally created in September 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Fall Fear Fly Redemption is a game born out of a vision of social entrepreneurship, which is the use of start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund, and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. In this case, developer Lobaki partnered with a non-profit to create a VR Academy in an impoverished part of the country, Clarksdale, Mississippi, where underprivileged and under-served high school and community college students could have opportunities to create professional virtual reality projects such as this one.
With such an interesting creation story, it’s no surprise that the game born out of this positive environment is equally fascinating. Although not entirely successful as a game, the overall end result still impresses in many ways.
You start out floating above a vast ocean. When you begin the actual game, you’re placed on the edge of a rocky cliff. Shortly thereafter, and with little warning, you jump. While I didn’t feel particularly connected to or immersed for the jumping part, once you’re in the air and free falling down through a surreal wormhole, or tunnel, of color, time, and space, the feeling of being there is palpable. At the end of this free-fall, you land on a moon, much like our own. It’s here that you can grab the “galaxy bow” and fire celestial arrows at the asteroids and other select objects that encircle you, trying to score the most points in a timed Asteroid Archery challenge. Asteroids that are further away score you more points, but are naturally harder to hit. Once time runs out, you can try again for a better score.
Fall Fear Fly Redemption is meant as a standing, room-scale experience, but can also be played seated if you’re able to maneuver enough and don’t mind missing out on some of the immersion, particularly during the free-fall segment. Otherwise, the most important motion is being able to quickly look around and rotate to hit all of the objects.
Visually, the game looks great, with realistic environments and well-rendered objects. Music and sound effects are similarly well-engineered.
Unfortunately, while the controls are intuitively mapped to the Vive controllers, I found picking up and manipulating the galaxy bow rather cumbersome. The game errs on the side of realism rather than accessibility, which makes working with the bow more frustrating than it should be. I had similar difficulty hitting many of the asteroids and other objects I was targeting, never quite getting the sense I fully understood how the physics engine worked and the path my celestial arrow would actually follow on a consistent basis. I suspect if I kept working with the game, my skills would improve, but it was difficult to keep motivated when each Asteroid Archery challenge was so frustrating.
I like a lot of what the developers of Fall Fear Fly Redemption were going for here. The surreal setting and sense of falling are well-imagined and impressively implemented. I also kind of like the idea of the Asteroid Archery challenge, even though it feels tacked on in a move that I suspect was made so this could be called a “game” rather than an “experience.” Unfortunately, it’s the somewhat poor playability of this game section that lets down the potential of the overall experience.
Ultimately, Fall Fear Fly Redemption never elevates itself beyond the type of experimental social project that it was born out of. It remains something of an unrealized vision. With that said, I would still consider what’s there at least a partial success, and definitely look forward to more releases from this team based on some of the lessons learned with this project.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars.
Fall Fear Fly Redemption is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.