Do Not Fall is the sort of game that offers some excellent advice in its title, then tries its darnedest to make sure that you can’t comply. It does so by sending you on a quest to obtain several containers full of various tasty liquids, a task that for some reason you are able to complete by rushing around a slew of appropriately-themed platforms that are hanging in the sky. The setup is interesting but can also be quite frustrating initially.
The colorful but surprisingly dangerous levels in Do Not Fall are viewed from a top-down perspective and typically play out in confined maps built from a bunch of square tiles. Most of those tiles crack and then drop out of sight a short time after you step on them, which means that you either must keep moving or find a rare piece of solid ground if you don't want to plummet into the abyss like so much debris. Most of the fragile footholds that drop out of sight rematerialize a few seconds later. Levels often require you to plan your route carefully, keeping tile behavior firmly in mind so that you don’t corner yourself. For instance, you might be asked to proceed along a series of platforms and collect a key at the far end, then to return along the same approximate path that you first followed to nab a trinket, hopefully without running out of safe places to step in the process.
At first, the constant need to think about where you move next can be intimidating, but you should be able to adapt to it quickly enough. The ease with which you adjust to the style of play required isn’t hurt at all by the fact that you have only a few moves at your disposal, either. Besides being able to move in any of the eight standard directions, you can make long jumps to distant platforms and you can dash. Those are basically all of your options, and they’re all you really need. The dash move is extremely useful because it allows you to destroy various obstacles and enemies, but you aren’t allowed to rely on it; each use immediately empties a meter that needs to refill before you can dash again, and you’d better believe the levels are designed to use that particular handicap against you.
The certainty that you’re only a half-second from falling into the abyss at any point in time never goes away, thanks in part to the perpetual lack of railings. You often must engineer precise leaps along various tiles and you have to be ready for special circumstances on the other end of your jumps, such as a falcon that might dive bomb you if you land on its insignia, or a bull that will rush you if you step on a space marked by hooves. There are numerous hazards throughout each of the seven themed worlds, including killer ladybugs, circling swordfish, and vindictive snowmen. None of the adversaries you face has a threatening demeanor, but all of them are quite adept at knocking you off your perch. The devious Frosty wannabes deserve a special shout out, as they're particularly good at knocking you from moving ledges with well-timed snowball tosses.
Combine the assorted hazards mentioned above with a timer that forces you to remain on the move if you want a good rating on the level--or even if you want to just finish before your time expires, in the later stages--and suddenly you find that Do Not Fall is a demanding experience. In some cases, it can be too difficult for its own good. In one late level, you’re forced to leap along platforms with rolling spikes while gusts of wind blow you to the side. At the same time, falcons will dive you if you stay still for long, and you can't really afford to take a break until you've negotiated an entire series of such ledges. There are a lot of challenges of a similar nature, particularly late in the game. Often, there is a simple enough way to reach a given destination, but you aren't allowed to follow that path because first you need to snag a key that is surrounded by blocks or moving spikes, or maybe you just want a golden bolt that will go toward unlocking the next available world. The developers seem to have delighted in painting a clear picture of the easy way to do things, then throwing you directly in the opposite and more difficult direction.
To that particular end, there also are special challenges associated with each standard level that you can complete if you would like to gain access to a handful of special stages and rewards. Some of those challenges can be quite devious, too. In one area, you might be asked to break every destructible item, even those that are off the beaten path. In another, you could be told to avoid collecting the nuts that serve as in-game currency, or you might need to engage every single angry bull (even though common sense tells you to avoid as many of them as possible). This system provides an unnecessary additional layer of difficulty for those daring gamers who want such a thing, and ensures that only the very best players will have the chance to tackle every last stage.
Fortunately, there is some nice unlockable content available to assist anyone who is having an especially rough time of things. You can purchase upgrades that grant you more attempts at each stage, increase your movement speed, or allow you to amass a larger fortune while gathering fewer nuts. Additionally, you can also purchase alternative characters that you spot in the various worlds, in case you’re tired of playing as just the rabbit. They have different girth and mobility, so that adds some welcome variety and (in keeping with the trend) still more challenge.
Besides a single-player experience that will keep you busy playing and replaying most of the 80 stages, Do Not Fall also offers a variety of modes that you can enjoy with as many as three friends, either locally or online. These modes serve up some unique objectives that are well-suited to competitive play. You can try to score more points than your friend while stepping on the most tiles to mark your territory, by occupying the most bases, by clearing the most gates, or by performing some other action. There don’t seem to be a lot of people playing the game online for now, but you can always create a private lobby and invite your friends.
Do Not Fall's vibrant, charming appearance will most readily appeal to players who aren’t necessarily searching for a challenging experience, and yet that’s precisely what they'll find. If you’ve been looking for a pleasant-looking platformer that isn’t afraid to kick your butt, give this one a shot and you might be surprised how soon you find yourself falling for it.'