Described as a “comical action-platform game,” Do Not Fall takes the classic “disappearing floor” mechanic found in countless platformers and stretches it into an entire game. In theory, this simple mechanic could result in a challenging and fun experience. As it is executed here, it proves to be far more tedious than enjoyable.
Developed by XPEC Entertainment, Do Not Fall has players take on the role of the world’s tiniest rabbit (named Pipi), who lives inside of an extremely unsanitary vending machine — or maybe Pipi is normal sized and the vending machine is actually ginormous. In either case, it’s the player’s job to run through the machine’s 7 hazardous worlds (Mineral Water, Milk, Green Tea, Pineapple Juice, Sparkling Water, Marshmallow Chocolate, and Shave Ice), collect the ingredient at the end of each level, and then shove them down a drain pipe in order to stock the vending machine with beverages tainted by disgusting rabbit feet. Each world contains a total of 11 levels (ten normal levels plus a separate special level), which results in a total of 77 levels. This would be a fairly impressive amount of gameplay, if it wasn’t for the fact that all of the levels are based around a single design mechanic, which wears extremely thin about halfway through the second level.
Any given Do Not Fall level typically plays out in the following manor. Players start by running down a narrow (occasionally branching) path, made of blocks that disappear after you step on them, in search of 1-3 keys so they can unlock a gate at the end of the level. Along the way there will be occasional enemies to dodge, blocks to jump on, and obstacles that can only be destroyed by using a dash move. With the keys in hand, the final gate can be unlocked, at which point Pipi grabs the ingredient for the drink and jumps down the drain pipe. Rinse and repeat…76 more times.
Each world adds a new set of 11 themed levels, but aside from the layout and aesthetics nothing really changes. The birds that fly around in set patterns in one world are ladybugs in the next. In one world you have to use the dash move to destroy boxes, in the next set of levels the boxes have all been replaced by small boulders. Over here there are moving platforms that you have to jump on, over there the platforms have been swapped out for turtles. And on, and on, and on.
There is some replayability built into the main game — players are graded on how much time they took, the number of times they fell, how many bolt screw nuts were collected, etc. — but repetitive nature of the gameplay will likely keep you from going back to improve your score.
The disappearing floor mechanic is nothing new to the platforming genre (probably the two best examples are the Luigi’s Purple Coins levels in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2). When done right, these segments challenge the player’s reflexes by forcing them to think ahead and then move without hesitation from point-to-point to avoid falling. When they are poorly conceived, the challenge quickly becomes an exercise in frustration and/or boredom.
One of the biggest design problems in Do Not Fall is the game’s unmovable camera. While many of the official screenshots show the game being played from a traditional third-person camera angle, the actual title uses a semi-top down (not quite isometric) perspective that cannot be changed. This makes it incredibly hard to tell the differences between platforms that are at different heights, and gauge the distance of certain jumps. Falling when you make a mistake is one thing, but falling because you have a horrible view of the level is frustrating beyond belief.
Another issue that drags down gameplay is that you will often encounter situations where the level design forces you stop and wait for several seconds before continuing on your way. There are many design choices that will slow progress in Do Not Fall, but I found the breakable obstacle placement to be the most frustrating of them all.
The dash move, which is the only way to destroy breakable obstacles, has a rather lengthy cool down timer associated with it. The problem with this is that many levels contain breakable obstacles that are spaced too far apart to destroy with a single dash, but are also close enough together that the ability will not recharge in time if you are just running through the level. The only way to handle these situations is to dash break the first object, then slowly walk from platform to platform (moving just before each one disappears), in order to give your dash the necessary time to recharge. This type of platformer should be about quick reflexes, and it is extremely boring to find yourself repeatedly slowed down to a crawl as you wait for a timer to recharge.
Outside of the single player mode, Do Not Fall also includes six multiplayer games; Soccer, Crown Grabber, A Gold Wind Blows, Step on the Floor, Occupy the Base, and Mark the Territory. Each of the multiplayer games takes the disappearing floor mechanic and combines it with different party-type scoring systems, for both local and online play (I was not able to test out any of the multiplayer games online, as the servers are completely devoid of players). Unfortunately, all of the multiplayer games are extremely dull and it is unlikely that you will find any reason to play them more than once.
One final thing to note about Do Not Fall is that the game’s overall presentation leaves a lot to be desired. The art style (while colorful) feels generic, the characters’ animations are repetitive, and the brief amount of voice acting is more annoying than cute. Nothing about the title’s presentation is overly terrible, but it also doesn’t do the game any favors.
If Do Not Fall was a $0.99 mobile game, it might be worth downloading to play through a couple levels. At $10 though it is impossible to recommend, as there are an almost endless supply of much better alternatives.
This review is based on the PSN exclusive, which was provided to us.
Nothing about Do Not Fall is inherently broken, but there is no single aspect of the highly repetitive game that raises it above the level of mediocrity. Players searching for a fun and exciting platformer are best advised to look elsewhere.