REVIEW: Fallen Angel

In my heart, I was hoping this was some fan-made labor of love starring David Boreanaz as vampire. Wishful thinking, I guess you could say, as in Fallen Angel (80 MSP), you’re a French guy with a ponytail who is not David Boreanaz, taking on various missions in an open-world Paris that’s not bad looking by indie standards. Unfair or not, from the trailer you get the impression you’re in for a Grand Theft Auto-like ride, albeit on foot. This can’t be further from the truth.

The insinuation is you’re an angel, the circumstances surrounding that revelation unknown. Blessed with the ability to see the wishes and dreams of others, you now spend your days and nights bailing out perfect strangers with random acts of kindness, similar to the Nic Cage movie but without Meg Ryan or all the sappy parts.

It starts innocently enough, picking up gifts for people’s kids (turns out everybody’s birthday is today), but quickly goes dark. My question is, if you’re an angel, wouldn’t your moral compass point due north, without waver? Instead, you’re ‘stealing’ one mission, escorting a dealer to a drug sale the next. Hardly God’s plan, if you ask me. Then again it’s been a while since I was in Paris; maybe their idea of what constitutes being a good samaritan has changed.

That moral quandary aside, the gameplay is exhausting and repetitive. One dull Retrieval or Escort scenario after another, which is the good life. Bomb Defusing involves plodding along the city streets for literally minutes at a time. Sound fun? There’s no actual defusing either. It’s like a checkpoint race with an amazingly inadequate timer.

Completing missions levels up your character, which advance the ‘story’ and grant him new, obviously ‘angelic’ abilities, like car-surfing (because that’s never a bad idea). Fighting in Fallen Angel is just as boring and half-assed. You have a strange ‘energy wave’ option and a roundhouse kick at your disposal, neither of which is a pleasure to use. It’s all spam attacks, and all of the enemies shop at the same uniform thrift store, where lime-green is the only color and always in stock.

Guys, serious question: Is it cheaper to buy in bulk?

For being an open city, which would suggest exploration, you’re actually better off staying near the center, where most of the shops are located. Taking missions outside of that central concentration will only lead to long runs / rides, or, even worse, the Escort missions where you’ll have to walk the whole time to avoid separating from your contract. Besides gambling with your experience points at the occasional slot machine, you’re not missing much. The city may be detailed, but it’s all facade. You can’t even visit the Eiffel Tower up close.

I stuck around until I’d gained enough experience for level four (a half hour struggle), which touted the ability to fly. Parisian sightseeing from the air? Sure, I’m in. Though even that potentially cool component is wasted on clunky, limited controls that suck up your energy in a few short flights, forcing you into completing more of the fun-killing side missions to refill your meter. Ugh, no thanks.

The entire goings and happenings of Fallen Angel are brain-softening. It’s a tech demo, piecemealed into an overpriced game. I applaud the open world aspect and the general idea, but everything else about it is beyond lackluster and straight up insulting. No one playtested this other than the developer, I’m certain. If they did, they would have realized there isn’t an ounce of enjoyment here.

.

EDIT 8/27: An update for the game has been applied, the most important tidbits of which are the reduction in price (dropped from 240 MSP to 80 MSP), significantly reducing the amount of XP needed to advance in-game, and improvements to the HUD, animation, and the flight system.

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16 thoughts on “REVIEW: Fallen Angel”

  1. Hey Alex: Moved this to a new reply so the conversation wouldn’t drag on down the page.

    Thanks for taking the criticism well, and not threatening my life. 🙂 I knew about the running and flying faster bits, but they’re just band-aids on a much deeper, serious wound, I think. I am just one opinion though. Lowering the price to 80 MSP would be a positive step, I agree. It’s a more realistic valuation. And if its possible, there is one fix that would help things overall: decrease the amount of XP players need to get for each player level, or increase the XP given for completing missions. Better still, remove the XP penalties that are handed down for failing missions. Those side quests are quite literally the most boring part of the game, and you need to do far too many of them to level up. This would make the game far less of a drag, and allow more people to see the story and ending, which is of course what you’d want.

    1. At this point I agree with you on all the points.
      I’m going to patch it with much less Xp point needed to pass each level and no penalties.
      So someone maybe will see the boss fight 🙂
      Also, lower price, I think it will give a new breath to games selling.
      Thanks Tim!

    2. You’re welcome. Those fixes should do what they can to help, and I’ll probably give the game another go once the patch is done and updated.

    3. Hi Tim,
      the patched game is on marketplace.
      Now it’s 80MSP and just need 3 missions to pass to next level.
      Flying will cost much less angel points. Failing a mission will not decrease xp points.
      Some improvements to HUD and flight systems.
      Some move improvements to car usage animation system.

    4. Wow, you patched it up and got the update passed pretty quickly… I will adjust the price in the review, and make a note of the update within. I’ll see how the rest of this week goes as far as schedule, and try to put in some more time on the game, to see how much it has improved things.

  2. I played it till the end. you finally discover that you are Lucifer, the first fallen Angel. you just got a second chance. In the final leve
    s you have infinite angel pointz. That’s true, it’s a great tech demo.

    1. You got me!
      I’m the Dev 🙂 and I was hoping to make a tech demo!
      I did it in my free time by myself.
      A friend made the music and another one the logo and the paintings for billboards
      I’m looking for a job outside Italy.
      Also, suggestions to patch it and improve it are wellcome 🙂

    2. Ah, that explains it. 😉 I do have to give you credit for building the entire game yourself. That part is impressive. As for suggestions on how to patch & improve? Let’s see, how do I put this?…. I don’t think there’s any way to ‘improve’ the core gameplay without a massive overhaul. You built the game engine well, but anything and everything else pertaining to it is utterly boring. I apologize for the bluntness, but every one of the mission types (up to player level 4, anyway) are dull and repetitive. Since leveling up is the key to advancing the game and plot, it helps if the player would actually want to explore and take on those missions. I can’t see anyone with a pulse sticking around to see it through.

      Again, I don’t think any of that can be fixed with a patch. Ditto for the combat (controls badly) and the flying (too long to take flight, too limited in its control). The open city is nice, but the distances between shops / missions is too big to be on-foot, and riding cars isn’t exactly the answer either. You should have playtested with a group of outside people / non-gamers. It’s just not a good game. While I think you can certainly take lessons from this project and the criticism, you’re better off applying that to a future release. This game is beyond saving, I think, and even worse to potential consumers, with the 240 MSP price point. I’m sorry to get down on you and the game, but in the end, I’m only trying to help you realize its faults and steer others clear of the mess.

    3. Well, what can I say?
      I really like positive criticism!
      Anyway, If you keep RT pressed (as to run) you will fly away really quickly & immediately while moving 🙂

      And IMHO I don’t think the game is a mess beyond saving.

      I’ll take in consideration the focus groups outside Developers as this gives you also a real feedback of what a real player will do.
      Also pricing can be changed on the fly!

  3. Tim makes such an important point – Devs – get playtesting happening, BEFORE you release. Otherwise you are taking the cake out of the oven before its done. I’d say more, but instead I’ll refer to Tim’s final paragraph:

    “The entire goings and happenings of Fallen Angel are brain-softening. It’s a tech demo, piecemealed into an overpriced game. I applaud the open world aspect and the general idea, but everything else about it is beyond lackluster and straight up insulting. No one playtested this other than the developer, I’m certain. If they did, they would have realized there isn’t an ounce of enjoyment here.”

    1. This kind of echoes the sentiments so far, but I think what makes the lack of playtesting even more egregious is that the game -was- so ambitious. An open city, with several working parts, in 3D, -cannot- be easy to accomplish (Daniel knows a bit about that, I think, with his game 🙂 ), and to basically skip the most fundamental part of any game, making it fun and interesting, is just so baffling to me. All that time and effort to craft, and then, blah. Nothing to arouse interest or draw a player in, and what is present is buggy or flawed. Playtesting, especially with those that either don’t play a lot of games, or may not be particularly good, yes, absolutely essential. Ask the questions. Is it fun? What would you change? Would you want to continue playing this after the trial? The ‘cake’ metaphor is perfect here.

    2. Heh, yeah cities are hard. GTA and Saints Row are massive undertakings, and sometimes very late. I give the Devs kudos for attempting it, but in so doing they’ve made a rod for their own back. I’d refer also to Thomas’ point #3 here http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ThomasSteinke/20120731/175044/How_to_make_a_successful_game_on_Xbox_Live_Indie_Games.php:

      #3 Be realistic about what you are making
      “It is funny in a way that these people are repeating a lot of the same folly of the triple-A games industry, where production costs are so high, each title needs to sell more than any other title ever did in history just to break even.”

    3. That’s a great read in general, but definitely hits the nail on the head with what we’re talking about here. A further point, which goes with #3 and #1: Have a clear idea for the gameplay ahead of a working prototype. Fallen Angel seems too much like the engine and city were created, then gameplay missions built around it afterward. It may have been scaled back, but either way, playtesting. Oh, and I like #6: You have to make the demo experience solid. Like Alan said below me— if you’re bored before the trial ends, who would want to purchase the game?

  4. I thought the demo was boring, but it sounds like it actually gets worse from there. How can someone mess up so badly that they manage to make flight in a sandbox city completely devoid of fun?

    1. This is not an exaggeration. To fly, you press X. You literally ascend, straight up, for four or five seconds (your power drains during this). Then you can move, at the same height only, no Superman antics here. To quit, X again, and wait four to five seconds to descend (while power drains, of course) and land. You get maybe two flights out of a full energy bar, depending on where you go. Useful for the Bomb Defusing missions, where you’ll have to cover a lot of ground, but since you’ll defuse 8 to 10 bombs per mission, you’ll be running / riding cars (surprise! also clunky) to defuse the rest. Ridiculous.

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