Fallen Leaf

Fallen Leaf

released on Jul 15, 2024

Fallen Leaf

released on Jul 15, 2024

Fallen Leaf is a retro side-scrolling adventure focused on tight, action-packed level design set in a whimsical world where almost anything goes!

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At this point in time, an 8 bit throwback platformer is a genre that's oversaturated to the point of being groanworthy. Unless you're doing something radically different, you're going to be ignored. I feel like seeing the trailer for this game creates the sort of reaction where your brain just forgets about it in 5 minutes. Sure, it looks competent, but there are so many of those. Even after playing the demo I didn't really expect much.

There are right now very few reviews on Steam for this game, which leads me to believe that people look at this title, don't see anything immediately standing out, and forget it. So this is a call to action: Play Fallen Leaf. It's REALLY GOOD!

The immediate point of comparison here is Shovel Knight: you go through a Mario 3-like map, you collect currency, there are a few locations with friendly NPCs where you can power up slightly. However, I think this game is way better than Shovel Knight (at least Shovel of Hope, the original campaign).

Instead of having a Mega Man structure, the game goes for Mario 3, featuring about 80 unique and memorable levels that are short but sweet, usually no more than 5 minutes. The gameplay within the levels, however, is more reminiscent of Mega Man, as you do have a shooting weapon that you can power up, again, in more of a Mario style, where your power disappears once you get hit.

The gameplay is great and tight, but the levels and the overall world is the star here. You can see how much love was put into every detail: the spritework is fantastic, often featuring way more animation than you'd expect; the dialogue often reflects what character you're playing as; there are tons of enemies around. The game definitely goes for quantity, but it never sacrifices quality in the meantime.

The level theming is fantastic. The first world might lead you to believe that levels are going to be too easy and a little samey, but that couldn't be further from the truth. While Fallen Leaf is on the easier side (I never had to use consumable HP restoring items), it's tense enough so you have to stay on your toes throughout. The levels get really distinct as early as world 2, culminating in world 4: a giant city which sees you travel through highway to the downtown, into the sewer, emerge at the beach, go through the convenience store, and reach the mayor's tower.

There are a few levels that aren't the best due to enemies present being overly tanky (aforementioned sewer is one of two such levels), and for whatever reason respawning off-screen more than any other enemy, but maybe 1% of locations you visit being slightly annoying is a success in my eyes.

​I don't think "more is better" approach always works, however. I think my biggest complaint has to do with subweapons. There are 12 of them, and you can scroll through them Mega Man 7 style, but 12 is simply too much. I'd prefer if you could choose like 5 for quick select instead of going "ok, I need the boomerang, was it backwards or forwards?" You could say the same about playable characters of which there are 10, but you rarely have to switch them on the fly like that, so it works better.

The game is full of surprises, and is charming as hell. NPCs are often very funny, and the main antagonist is a really interesting character for such a game. I think one quest goes on for a bit too long, as it's a trading quest which is required to see the game's true ending, but aside from that every friendly location was a blast to visit.

If you're interested in platformers, I highly recommend this game. It's easily one of the better games I've played this year, and I hope it becomes a classic. While obviously taking inspiration from many sources, Fallen Leaf has a strong identity of its own, and it's an incredible achievement that this game, which took me 10 hours to complete, was made by 3 people.

Great game, solid controls, tons of characters and things to unlock.
Graphics are great.
Very long considering the type of game it is, specially if you go for the 100% unlock.
While the story most of the time doesn't take itself very serious it has its good moments and the comedy is pretty good overall.
My only complain would be it has some stuff that IMHO do not belong in the game, it's there just to pander some specific group, truly doesn't do any harm in the big picture but yeah a bit annoying...

A lot of love has clearly gone into it, but I see no point in playing this apart from wanting to play a megaman clone with a lack of personality