‘Music I enjoy persisting on my desktop once I’ve alt-tabbed out’ isn’t at the top of my Official List Of Things I Look For In Games which guides my every professional decision, but I certainly do appreciate it. Playing Fallow’s demo, I’ve left sonambulist Isabelline standing in front of monuments to the families who died to a mysteries ancient danger that swept the Americas, because it’s playing twangly guitar with soft wailing (musical saw, perhaps?) over crickets chirping. The adventure game’s stirring up ace eerie and mournful gothic Americana, you’ll see (and hear).
Fallow’s set in strange world which feels a bit like the Old West, wooden buildings in barren lands, only something is very off. Human brains float inside giant vacuum tubes. The ground is split and “alien” pipes jut out down crevices. It’s odd, empty, and lonely. Your character’s a sonambulist who awakes somewhere new every day, and I’m not entirely clear quite how much of what she’s seeing is real. Either way, we’re told about the curse and damnation upon her family, about the beliefs of the people who lived here, and whispers of what once happened – and might be happening again.
It looks a bit like a Zelda-y or JRPG-y thing from the Game Boy, but is essentially a puzzle-light adventure game. You need to find this to get into that area, combine this with that to get that key to open that door, and so on. As is customary, you’ll pick things up without knowing what they’re used for – rope, a pick, some lodestone – but guessing they’re puzzles items. It is, at least, very forgiving in using the right items automatically in the right combination at the right place.
Fallow has pleasant incidental details, with some parts that seem like they might be puzzle solutions – examining strange writing in a book, for example – but are world-building. I like it. I stopped after realising I’d need to search around to find another item to open another area, but I enjoyed being in its world for 15 minutes. And I’ve had it alt-tabbed for, ooh, maybe an hour now. This song really is lovely. Solo developer Rook cites such fine bands as 16 Horsepower and Jay Munly as musical and tonal influences.
Anyway, Fallow’s demo is over here, and here’s a trailer with some hot banjo: