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Fallen Aces Is Like Playing A Noir Comic Book

Can't go wrong with a game that lets you hide in a vent

A screenshot from "Fallen Aces:" the player shoots a machine gun at 30s style enemies in an empty nightclub
New Blood

Every time the question “what games are you looking forward to?” comes up on our podcast, I freeze a bit. With the decimation of studios like Eidos Montreal and Arkane Austin, they aren’t making a lot of “Riley games” anymore–i.e., immerse sims, full of vents to hide in and multiple ways to tackle a level. Early access game Fallen Aces isn’t scratching all of those itches for me, but it’s reaching some of them.

Fallen Aces is an episodic noir detective story from New Blood, with one episode out and two more to go. The setup is familiar stuff: you play as a down-on-his-luck detective in a grim city, and someone wants you dead. The cutscenes are told through comic book-style panels, and the rest of the art style reflects that too. Enemies and interactive objects are two-dimensional, an effect that’s weird at first but gives the world a cartoonish, almost whimsical vibe that meshes well with its pulpy dialogue and offsets some of the brutal violence you get up to as you fight your way across the city.

You don’t have to fight, though. In the spirit of the immersive sim, Fallen Aces sets up a situation and lets you figure out how to deal with it, not funnelling you into combat or stealth. In the opening scene, the hotel where you live is overrun by gangsters. You can battle them all, punching and kicking and making use of whatever weapon is at your disposal. Or, you can sneak through vents and over rooftops to escape unscathed. I found myself employing both options, picking off enemies one by one in a shadowy area where enemies were spread out, and in another going to town on everyone with a combination of thrown trash cans and a board with some nails in it.

I’ve seen some players call the combat simplistic, but it kept me on my toes through the number of enemies and weapon durability meaning my favorites would often break during a fight, leaving me to scramble for a backup plan. I used my fists a lot, striking and dodging like a showboating boxer. There’s firearms, but their ammo is limited and takes up your inventory space, making them not my preferred option. For me, fights felt fast-paced and exciting without ever being overly challenging. 

The usual early access caveats apply: while I had a lot of fun in my several hours with the first episode, I’d understand players wanting to wait to see the whole story through, or to see what changes based on player feedback. (However, New Blood writes that the price of the game will go up as more episodes get added.) For me, a quick, personality-filled romp was just my speed, and I’m happy to have finished what the game has on offer and then take a break until there’s more.

Fallen Aces isn’t exactly an immersive sim; another early access detective game with a unique art style and a strong atmosphere, Shadows of Doubt, hits those notes a bit louder for me. But it’s cool that we’ve got at least two very Riley games in the works, and that early access means there’s more to come for them both.

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