Independent or smaller developers have found a special place in my gaming heart over the last several years, creating quieter, story-driven experiences with something to say. Critical Rabbit has done just that with Fall of Porcupine.
On the surface, it appears that the game can be primary or simplified, but rest assured, there is a whole lot more going on. While the severe tone of many interactions and conversations may not hit with everyone, I genuinely believe the writing helps elevate an already beautifully looking game and portrays a subject matter and message worth exploring.
Falling Deep Into Porcupine
Fall of Porcupine has you playing as Finley, a pigeon who has begun a residency at a new small-town hospital of St. Ursala’s in Porcupine. Throughout your time with Fall of Porcupine, you’ll get to know your co-workers, bosses, patients, and many townsfolk. Each and everyone looks and speaks in their personality.
The game delves deep into tough subjects like stress, mental health, and the complexities of working within a healthcare system. Don’t let the charming and cozy setting fool you. Finley and the supporting cast find themselves in some actual life circumstances, and I discovered that Fall of Porcupine handled them all incredibly well.
Finley and Friends
Using anthropomorphized characters was a great decision. It allowed the devs to mix and match each character’s unique and charming looks, big and small. I didn’t notice it at first, but this went a long way in my being able to keep track of and care for the ever-expanding cast.
Fall of Porcupine uses most of its 8-10 hour play time in conversations. This is a story-first experience, and it shines in that department. Small mini-games exist between these meaningful interactions where you must treat your patients. They are usually consistent with puzzles on the patient’s chart where you’ll have to prescribe the correct drug dosage, change their dressings, or give a co-worker a hand with a small task. Each is also presented with simple, easy-to-understand instructions, removing any added stress to the game.
Thankfully, if you prefer a more straightforward approach to these puzzles, the game offers an accessibility option that decreases the difficulty. I took this for a quick spin about halfway through Fall of Porcupine and found it to be a significant difference. Not in a bad way, but if you’re looking for a challenge occasionally, stick with the default setting.
A Story Worth Telling
The world has dealt with what was a life-altering experience during the pandemic. No profession had it more complex than the healthcare workers who kept us alive and put their lives on the line. It’s lovely to see that in some of the plotlines of Fall of Porcupine. It’s a game about the people (or animals) and the world they must navigate as individuals, newly formed friends, and colleagues.
The writing is the shining star of the game. Whether you’re talking to patients or friends or having weird dreams filled with talking plants, there is personality and charm at every turn. Each instance allows me to get to know others better, grow as a person (or bird), and make me feel connected to Porcupine and St. Ursala’s on a level I never expected.
Fall of Porcupine was a unique experience. The game quickly snuck up on me and had me welling up with tears, caring for every Porcupine citizen Finley met. There are fun moments; it’s not all waterworks and serious conversations. And that’s one of the reasons why I can highly recommend this game. The interactions and characters all felt real, despite the cartoony art style.
If you’re looking for a great-looking and sounding game with some incredible writing and character development, and one that isn’t 50+ hours long, look no further than Fall of Porcupine.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Switch
Fall of Porcupine creates a personal story that needs to be experienced. If you're looking for a great looking and sounding game that has incredible writing and character development, look no further.