Quick thoughts on All Walls Must Fall, a time-bending Strategy game that presents a new take on XCOM
A smörgåsbord of different gameplay elements come together.
All Walls Must Fall is many different things, which makes sense given its innate desire to inherently be different. A time and reality-bending Tactical RPG that takes place on the same night, putting the German Gay Club scene at the forefront is not a game you often see come around. So in that sense, it’s nice to actually have something authentically different to play, even though its systems are heavily inspired by games that came before. But then again, every game is inspired by another, so All Walls Must Fall is no different in that regard.
It’s just a relief that the combination of game systems it tackles mix together for a palatable experience that challenges the mind and efficiently uses its limited resources to keep things from getting stale. Music is a big part of All Walls Must Fall (hence the clubs), and your protagonist moves statically to the rhythm of its synth/techno beats, echoing shades of Crypt of the NecroDancer. But with each movement you make, so too do the enemies around you, which is where All Walls Must Fall presents its spin on the Strategy genre.
Your character can only take three hits from enemy gunfire before it's game over and you’re forced to start over from the beginning. This decision lends a heavy amount of emphasis on maintaining your health as there is no way for you to regain any that you’ve lost, so making use of your ability to go back in time and undo any unnecessary recklessness is paramount to your success.
There will be times in All Walls Must Fall when you are bouncing back and forth trying to evade enemy gunfire while looking for your opening to fire back. Obviously, it helps to take cover, but it is destructible, preventing you from camping in any one place and adds a whole other layer of emergent gameplay opportunities. Walls can come crashing down on you (hence the name of the game), adding new paths for the enemy to close in on you, or, if you’re quick, new ways for you to flank them.
There are also hackable elements in the environment, including security systems and drones, the latter of which can also add new layers to the combat. For instance, there was one mission I was on where I had to steal a statue and escape. Taking the figure, drew the ire of a small army of guards, which would have gunned me down for a quick Game Over. The drone was able to cover my escape and thin out their numbers before succumbing to a fiery end, giving me the opportunity to reload, get to cover and fight off the remaining guards. It’s this sort of unplanned emergent gameplay that can make All Walls Must Fall a real thrill.
It should also be noted that story-wise, All Walls Must Fall barely makes a lick of sense, though it appears to be intentional. All you know is that a catastrophe is about to befall Berlin, and you are sent ten hours into the past to try and stop it. There’s a time traveler that you talk to and who gives you missions, but who they are and what their motivations may be are foggy at best. Granted, it’s easy to ignore the story given the procedurally generated nature of the game, and if you just focus on the gameplay alone, you’ll enjoy the game just fine.