All Walls Must Fall, a tactical strategy game by Inbetween Games that takes place in the gay clubbing scene of a Germany where the Cold War never ended and the Berlin Wall still stands, came out in Early Access on Steam yesterday. So, I decided to check it out and see what it was all about.

The game begins with an exposition of the universe of All Walls Must Fall. The year is 2089, and for 150, the Soviet Union and the West have engaged in time travel espionage, sending agents back in time to predict their enemy’s plans at every move. But when a rogue nuclear strike threatens the world, both sides of the conflict send their agents back to stop it from happening.

As I begin the campaign, the first thing I notice is the way time progresses in the game: every movement and every action synchronizes with a dark, electronic soundtrack that suits the setting and recombines loops to keep the music dynamic and themed to the goings-on in the game. It’s aesthetically very reminiscent of Crypt of the Necrodancer in this way, and it makes everything you do in the game feel like a perfectly-orchestrated action scene a-la Edgar Wright minus the comedy.

I’m tasked with eliminating the owner of a gay club I’m stood before, and despite my character’s questions as to why this must be done, I’m met with no answers except, “Trust me he has it coming.” So, I walk to the bouncer at the door, and with some flirtation I work my way into the lobby.

Well, not the first time around. I initially piss off the bouncer and he pulls his gun out on me. This is where I make use of the time manipulation mechanic of All Walls Must Fall: reversing time to just before I initiate conversation with the bouncer, and my second attempt is where I succeed.

 

In the lobby I find a coat checker, and a large metal detector scanning the inner-entrance. This is a problem, as I have a gun hidden on my person and I need to get into the club with it to complete my mission. I have a number of options: shoot the coat checker, hack the metal detector, or, the option that I choose, which is to guilt the coat checker into turning off the metal detector to let me through with my metal arm.

The clubs in All Walls Must Fall are procedurally-generated, so I’m met with a sprawling network of smoking lounges, bars, and dance floor rooms that are unique to other people’s experiences. And in all of this, I need to find a locked room where my target is hiding, and take him out. But I need to be mindful of my time resource, which depletes with every movement and action I take, and is used to reverse time.

After searching the whole building, I stumble across a locked door, and I’m presented with a choice to either hack the door or force it open. I opt to go guns blazing, and force the door down, where I see two men; a guard, and my target. I enter combat.

In combat, rather than freely roaming, each of my turns become meticulously planned. I confirm each movement, each shot, warned every time an action I take might lead to me taking damage. I fire off a pot shot at the guard near the door, and duck around the corner for cover just in time to miss a stray bullet. From my position, I peek into the doorway to take an aimed shot, risking exposure but making the attack more effective.

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Not moments later, I find myself taking damage. Turning the camera around I see another guard firing at me. I dodge his next attack, and fire off a pot shot in his direction, re-positioning myself in cover and firing off more shots to take him down. I turn my attention back to my target, firing off an aimed shot and at last killing him. But another guard sneaks up on me, and I perish.

Thankfully, I still have some time resource left, and reverse time to before I get killed, change my tactic to avoid the new guard’s shot, and take him down. I’m then graced with a real-time replay of the combat encounter, all synchronized to the beat of the music. I traverse back through the club, get in my car, and make a hasty exit.

All Walls Must Fall is a well-weaved fusion of a lot of really great mechanics and design elements from other really good games that I enjoy, and it has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Inbetween Games has in store for it, because I’ve what I’ve experienced so far is some of the most fun I’ve had in a game this year thus far.

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