NEXT Studio’s upcoming puzzle adventure game “Iris.Fall” is as promising as it is intriguing. For example, the game’s demo sure starts off with a big bang. After waking from a dream, Iris is lured by a black cat into a run-down theatre. Quickly after entering, both she and the player discover that the theatre is not all it seems…and neither is Iris.

iris fall the darkness surrounds me

Iris.Fall’s monochrome art style shines through from the very first second that the game kicks-off.

Right off the bat, “Iris.Fall” combines “Alice In Wonderland” with 2013’s “Contrast”, allowing Iris to travel as her shadow through eerie environments backed by haunting music and unnerving ambient sounds. For a puzzle-adventurer, Iris.Fall’s puzzles are easy and its adventures are brief. As the game’s visual effects clearly mark where Iris can travel as a shadow and convenient camera angles guide your eyes to where to explore.

iris fall two super creepy dolls

For most part, the visuals, theme and art style are really nicely done (not to mention creepy).

That’s also why I at times felt like I was following a set of clear directions, instead of having the ability to explore a dilapidated theatre as I wish. Iris.Fall’s gimmick of shadow traveling kept me interested, but I hope that the full release will offer tricker puzzles and deeper exploration.

iris fall tons of creepy chairs

There is a rather interesting “light and shadow” system to be found in “Iris.Fall”. You see,you can switch between two realities by switching between light and shadow (and that concept runs through the whole game, no matter if it’s Iris.Fall’s music, story, puzzles or art).

As short as the Iris.Fall’s demo was (the demo is just 10-minutes long), it’s playtime was stretched out by slow movement and sluggish controls. Iris’s movement has the animations of a run but the speed of a walk. Having an option to sprint would make moving around larger levels less tiresome.

iris fall a handful of lamps

The story of “Iris.Fall” is a rather interesting one, but the presentation and execution of the story end up being limped due to irritating gameplay mechanics (such as delayed controls, for example).

Furthermore, there is a noticeable delay between pressing a key and seeing a reaction brought moment to moment gameplay to a halt…And that makes the simple puzzles more irritating than enjoyable. Dragging items from Iris’ inventory is particularly unnaturally feeling. So if a mouse option is included in the full release, it will make using objects a smoother experience.

iris fall a room full of eyes

There’s a handful of things that annoyed me while playing the demo of “Iris.Fall”, and that includes delayed controls, low skill puzzles and intrusive invisible walls.

Another thing that prevented enjoyable movement at times was the many invisible walls that protect Iris from falls. I mean, sure. The walls is preventing Iris from falling to her death and reduces tension and preventing Iris from dropping down a ledge. However, in the long run, it only pads out gameplay and breaks immersion.

iris fall a big clockwork robot

The demo of “Iris.Fall” only offers about ten minutes of gameplay. So the replayability is pretty much none existing…

Other than that, the tension that I felt because of Iris.Fall’s spooky design, well…It was soon killed off by Iris.Fall’s superfluous design. Nevertheless, despite a few dark spots, “Iris.Fall” still shines through most of its flaws. So I truly hope that its full release will shine just as bright, if not even brighter (only time will tell, but at least “Iris.Fall”is off to a good start).

iris fall a stairway to heaven

“Iris.Fall” is set for a release on the 7th of December this year. So only time will tell if NEXT Studio will be able to sort out all the cons that I have pointed out on time.

As for here and now though (as it stands with the demo of “Iris.Fall”), “Iris.Fall” is in need of a handful of improvements and fine-tunings. So NEXT Studio sure has a lot to prove with the full version of the game. In other words, it would be wise to wait for some reviews to drop in before you pick up the game on its release day (which is on the 7th of December for PC).

+ Spooky art style
+ Interesting shadow mechanic
+ Creepy atmosphere
+ Iris is a really cool protagonist

– Delayed controls
– Low skill puzzles
– Intrusive invisible walls
– The demo is very short

Gameplay: 2/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound and music: 4/5
Controls: 2/5
Story: 4/5
Replay value: 2/5

tgg grade 3 out of 5

Verdict: 3/5
NEXT Studio got something really promising and interesting in the making with their upcoming puzzle/adventure game “Iris.Fall”. However, the demo of “Iris.Fall” does suffer from a handful of flaws. So only time will tell if  NEXT Studio will be able to sort everything out in time for December release of “Iris.Fall”.

Title: Iris.Fall
Developer: NEXT Studio
Format: PC
Genre: Puzzle Adventure
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Release date: 2018-12-07
Difficulty: Easy.
Spent time: + 20 minutes
Average grade internationally: TBD
PEGI age rating: +12
Price: TBD via Steam

Robin Ek – Editor

The review code was provided by NEXT Studio.

Liam Hobbs
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @LiamJHobbs

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