Play Test: After The Fall

Recently, we broke the news that one of the more elusive Quake total conversions, After The Fall, was finally being ported to the Dreamcast after years in the wilderness. The reasons for this were numerous and included technical limitations related to the Dreamcast's RAM, amongst others. A talented programmer called Pip Nayler stepped forward to resurrect the game however, and we have been lucky enough to sample the fruits of his labour.

If you want to know more about After The Fall's history, please check out our previous article here, but for this play test we'll be focussing on the current build Pip was kind enough to let us experience. First things first - this is still pretty early and as such there are a few rough edges. Also, it's running on Mankrip's Makaqu engine, so it doesn't look like a first party, official Dreamcast game. However, if you can look past the low resolution, occasionally low frame rate and the stock Quake sound effects and gameplay elements, what you'll discover in After The Fall is a very enjoyable and pretty engaging first person shooter.
From the off, you'll feel acquainted with the set up if you're a Quake veteran. After The Fall offers you a familiar hub level that acts as a way to select which difficulty you'd like to play. It's probably worth stating at this point that choosing 'easy' is your best bet initially, as the game is brutally difficult from the off - not that this is a bad thing...just don't accidentally chose the 'nightmare' option by pressing the button by the slipgate!

As mentioned, the Quake engine origins of After The Fall are pretty clear to see, with architecture blatantly taking cues from id's original blueprint. That said, After The Fall does take things to some fairly unorthodox places almost out of the gate...

After blasting through a strange military complex of sorts, you'll soon find yourself traversing the streets of some unnamed metropolis, wandering through hotel lobbies and bars, blasting enemies. Having a gunfight in a hotel corridors and rooms, before bursting out into the lobby is certainly something I haven't experienced before, especially as an (almost) exclusive console gamer who is unfamiliar with the total conversion scene. A quick ride on the subway later and you'll be capping yet more enemies in underground complexes that show off the kind of architecture I used to be envious of when I would look at magazine screens of PC Quake back in the day.
Everything runs pretty smoothly for the most part, although there is the odd hiccup when sound effects are loaded. This doesn't really detract from the gameplay and Pip assures us this will be ironed out as development progresses. Likewise, some of the loading times can be a little lengthy, but again this will likely be rectified for the final release. There's a decent amount of variation in enemy types, with lizardy, humanoid, animalistic and robotic enemies all present in the demo.

Controls are very sharp, with joypad controls feeling perfectly reactive - movement is mapped to the face buttons; aim to the analogue stick and jump and fire to the left and right triggers respectively. There's also the option to play with a mouse and keyboard if that's more your bag (and you have said peripherals lying about). There are also some nice added extra commands mapped to the d-pad, such as a zoomed aim - all the better for shooting you with, grandmech.
From what we've seen and experienced so far, After The Fall is a game you should be looking forward to for the Dreamcast. It's a single player first person shooter that brings some fairly interesting puzzles, destructible environments, new locations and trigger happy gun play to the platform and that should be applauded. That the game will eventually be released totally free of charge - along with printable box art - can only be commended.
Pip has given us some pointers of what we can expect from the full releases of After The Fall, and these include online multiplayer (both co-op and deathmatch) dependent on Shuouma's online enabled build of Makaqu. Other improvements, such as reworked 'mission end' screens and a fully re-written backstory are planned for future iterations. There are also several bugged maps and section of levels that have been completely removed, so as to bring up the overall quality of the original After The Fall total conversion that was originally released for the PC.
Naturally, we'll endeavour to keep you up to speed with further developments and we thank Pip Nayler for offering us the opportunity to sample this early preview build of the Dreamcast's next first person shooter. There's clearly work to be done on After The Fall, but this is very encouraging and releasing it as a full game for the grand price of nothing makes it an enticing and interesting project.

What do you think? Are you excited for a new FPS on the Dreamcast? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or in our Facebook group. Oh, and be sure to follow Pip Nayler on Twitter for updates.

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FlorreW said...

I am really happy to see Pip making this happen. Forst of, old quake is a fantastic game, and making this mod available on the freaking Dreamcast is just Siiiiiick :) It looks good Pip, keep the good work up *thumbs up from sweden*

Pip Nayler said...

Thank you so much Florian. I sincerely appreciate that, and it's positive opinions such as yours as to why I want to put in the time and effort to make something special for the community. Cheers!

Pip Nayler said...

I also want to thank Tom for putting together such a fantastic preview of the game. The writing, the screenshots, and the video of this piece are all of the highest quality. I'm thrilled!

Jj said...

Looks really nice! Thank you for taking your time in doing this.

Pip Nayler said...

Thanks Jj, I really appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

when will this be released

Anthony817 said...

Agh! I am fashionably a few days late I see! Wow looking awesome! Can't wait for the final release! I can see we have something special here for sure! Keep it up Pip we are rooting for you!