Lets play tricks with the light.
In Iris.Fall, light and shadow are merry, and useful, bedfellows. Silhouettes, moving staircases and malleable puppets form the puzzles of this fragile world, as we try to get our protagonist Iris out of the abandoned theatre she has found herself within.
Scheduled for release at the end of the year, NEXT Studio’s Iris.Fall is an intriguing puzzle adventure. While its backstory is unclear from the short demo we played, all is clearly not well in the strange dollhouse world – and Iris most certainly needs our help.
Our demo begins with Iris waking from a dream shortly before following a black cat into the labyrinth-like chambers of a dilapidated theatre. On a rickety staircase, Iris is met by a strange dusty cloud which passes over her like a ghost. It turns out to be a benign spirit, one that proves quite useful. Once the spirit collides with our protagonist, Iris gains the ability to switch back and forth from the real to the shadow realm. Think Peter Pan, but less jovial.
From here, Iris literally falls into the room that houses our first puzzle. The cat, as cats so often do, has buggered off somewhere, and Iris needs to find a way to follow its progress. However, there is no way for the real Iris to get across to the platform the cat has climbed to. A small illuminated spot on the floor draws our attention and sure enough, when we interact with this beacon of light, Iris becomes a shadow illuminated on the wall.
It’s this mixture of reality and shadow that holds the secret to Iris.Fall’s ingenuity and its sophistication in puzzle mechanics. In the shadow world, we attempt to climb up to the platform, but the silhouetted route is incomplete, and the gap is too far to jump. Back we go to the real world in search of a solution. Sure enough, across the room there’s a useful-looking piece of pipe just waiting to be grabbed on a ledge. You can imagine how this first simple puzzle unfolds from here; grab the pipe, fix it into the right place so it casts its useful shadow and voila! Iris can continue to chase after a cat that frankly doesn’t seem worth the bother.
Not every puzzle we encountered in the demo required switching between the dark world and reality, but the most interesting ones did. The last puzzle in the demo made use of this mechanic particularly well. With a set of stairs that look to be straight out of an optical illusion, Iris is tasked with getting from one side of the room to the other, but she will have to move the staircases in just the right way to achieve it.
This puzzle is reminiscent of one you might find in the Zelda series, with enough challenge that you will feel a sense of achievement at having completed it, yet without any undue frustration attached.
Using a series of orbs to twist and turn the staircases to the right position, the player must get the real Iris to the right position. Once there, the challenge changes to turning the staircases so that the shadow they cast on the wall will allow the silhouetted Iris to get across the last gap. Having to make use of both the real world Iris and her shadowy sister gives the puzzle its intrigue, perfectly balancing all of the game’s mechanics to move forward.
While our experience with the demo was a brief one, Iris.Fall left an impression. Its haunting art style, which makes use of both 2D and 3D artwork, hints at the promising puzzles to come later in the game. Plus, the lateral thinking encouraged by this marriage of 2D and 3D design is always satisfying. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the shadows for this one.
Iris.Fall is slated for release on December 7th – until then you can keep an eye on Steam for more information about this brand-new brain tickler.
Part of our core news team, Kate has been gaming since she could control a mouse. In addition to having a penchant for indie games, Kate had a World of Warcraft account when she was far too young, and has a weakness for any game with ‘RPG’ in the description.