Black The Fall is a puzzle game set-up in a communist dystopian era.
Playing as Black, an obedient factory worker, the player gets one chance to outsmart the oppressive system. But the road to freedom is paved with puzzles, pitfalls and manipulation. A door malfunctions, an opportunity arises. Once out, how does one survive?
Black The Fall started in 2014, as Cristian Diaconescu and Nicoleta Iordanescu’s art project: a black & white stealth-platformer, set-up in an alienated world. The game concept came as a way to illustrate and express rebellion against the mechanisms of a heavily corrupted system, rooted in the decades of communism, Romania has edured.
In the months to follow they discovered there’s so much to show about the communist mentality: distrust, dehumanizing work environment, uniformity. “We chose a puzzle game approach, as this would better illustrate what it means to cope with a restrictive regime. We lived in times where there was no freedom of speech, intellectuals were thrown in prisons and tortured, food was subject to rationing, there was no access to contraception. Access to western culture was minimal. It sounds Orwellian, but unfortunately it happened in real life in most of communist countries. And the worst part is that it’s still happening in some parts of the world.” said Cristian Diaconescu, Creative Director at Sand Sailor Studio. “Also, as we explored this path we realized that the oppressive mechanics apply to the western world today, where a lot of people feel trapped in conforming with a system they don’t believe in. With Black the Fall, we are offering an alternate course of action, where anyone has the chance to outsmart the system and escape it.”
Sand Sailor Studio is an independent game development studio, driven by the mind-puzzling, rather than mind-numbing.
In January 2014 two artists, with basic programming skills, started working on a noir mobile game prototype. This naturally led to asking friends for: feedback, funding, help with programming, you name it.
In a few months the team doubled in size having two programmers join Cristi and Nico on this journey. Sand Sailor Studio started their odyssey by competing for the Square Enix Collective program with the prototype for Black the Fall, where they had a 70%+ YES. This feedback empowered the team to build a successful campaign on KickStarter. Then Sand Sailor Studio won a scholarship with their prototype and took part in Execution Labs‘ accelerator program. “With XL labs, we learned a lot about the industry mechanics and decided to reshape our game, in order to better reflect the concept of escaping an oppressive system; something we are very familiar with” says Cristian Diaconescu, Creative Director at Sand Sailor Studio. “Since then we’ve added more talent to the team, going full steam ahead with a team of nine people working on Black The Fall.”
In 2016 the Sand Sailor studio signed a publishing contract with Square Enix for Black The Fall and was lucky to showcase the game and meet the players around the world at events such as E3, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, Comic Con, EGX, Unite Europe, IndieCade Europe and many more.