Club-hopping around a future Cold War Berlin in All Walls Must Fall is weird, but fun
It is the year 2089 and a Cold War Berlin is still divided. Catastrophe strikes one night when a rogue nuclear attack hits. With no clear suspects, both sides of Berlin rev up their time machines to send agents back into the past to uncover the truth. You are Agent Kai, an East German STASIS veteran. You have one night to club-hop across Berlin and prevent it. Welcome to All Walls Must Fall.
This Early Access title is undeniably bizarre, but that’s not unfamiliar territory for indie developer inbetweengames. The folks there are former Yager Development staff, best known for Specs Op: The Line; they were working on the currently MIA Dead Island 2 before that was passed onto Sumo Digital.
All Walls Must Fall is an isometric, roguelike tactics game with RPG elements. Though it borrows a lot of systems from other games, it combines them seamlessly in clever ways. Traversing around is a bit like XCOM with familiar cover icons abound.
There’s a neat contrast between your character model and the rest of the world. NPCs are faceless marionette-like models partying the night away, while your character is a gruff old cardboard cutout akin to Paper Mario’s style. It gives it a distinct visual identity. Environmental variety does need work; the layout of each club changes in new playthroughs, but each mission looks like they take place in the same locations.
Time only moves when Kai is on the move. Thus, the combat in All Walls Must Fall reminded me more of Superhot’s key feature if it played out from a XCOM perspective.
Battles involve exchanging shots at one another with firearms. The key distinction is that the game will give a warning if you’ll sustain damage from carrying out your next action. Expect to be ducking and weaving through gunfire as you plot out a course to safely counterattack. Combat wraps up in a Superhot-esque fashion as well! It rewinds the encounter and plays it out in real-time to see how much of a badass you were.
Being a time traveler has its quirks too. You’re able to manipulate time through a few ways, but your main ability is an undo skill. This gives Kai the power to undo his previous action. If he sustains damage or suffers a fatal shot, rewinding it will save his life and your campaign run. Undoing comes at a cost though. Much of your actions in All Walls Must Fall cost a certain amount of resources.
The resource system is simple to understand; a resource gauge not only dictates whether you can use your undo ability, but also gives you a vast array of options. Deactivate security cameras and tinkering with drone terminals to serve you gives safer options to carry out missions. Locked doors can be forcefully opened, but doing so will aggro nearby hostiles immediately. Hacking them open allows you to negotiate with hostiles inside them instead.
Several foes in All Walls Must Fall can be dealt with in a nonviolent fashion. Butter them up Deus Ex style with the right responses. Few meters depicting an enemy’s mood give you a visual cue on whether you’re steering the conversation in the right direction. This mechanic is a bit rudimentary at the moment; there’s only a limited amount of conversation types and responses, so I found it quite easy to bypass combat whenever I could. Still, there are a few hilarious “conversations” - especially the ones that involve dancing.
The campaign is structurally nonlinear. After a brief tutorial mission, several other missions open up across a Berlin overworld map. East Berlin is the only accessible part upon its Early Access debut. You earn cash proportional to your mission performance. A shop sells some more time-related skills and weapon slots to deck out Kai with more heat.
All Walls Must Fall is an intriguing work-in-progress. I appreciate that it mixes several elements from other games in an unconventional manner. It does needs a lot more polishing on its presentation and UI, but it’s early days for it of course. I did find it off-putting that NPCs didn’t react to gunfights happening around them. Still, the foundation for All Walls Must Fall is absolutely impressive. There is a lot of potential to be had and I truly hope it gets there.
As for future plans, the developers have stated that they plan to add two more playable characters for the next story acts. West Berlin will eventually be added as well. I’ve enjoyed my time with All Walls Must Fall so far and I’m looking forward to seeing all that it has to offer.