No one ever wants to end up in a hospital, but there are those who dedicate their entire lives to working in them. You’ll get a good sense of what these workers go through by playing Fall of Porcupine by Critical Rabbit. It’s a 2D narrative game about working in a hospital and living in a small town that time forgot. You’ll have time on the job and off the clock to explore and talk to as many residents, colleagues, and patients as possible. You need to try to make the most of your time so you can uncover the full story of the town.
What is Fall of Porcupine?
While there’s no shortage of games set around doctors or hospitals, there’s still room to tell stories of a more personal nature. This is what the writing in Fall of Porcupine attempts to do. You play Finley, a junior doctor who has accepted a residency at St. Ursula’s Hospital in the small town of Porcupine. Being only a few weeks in, Finley is still a stranger in his new home and new place of work. You’ll guide him on a journey that tests him as a doctor, an employee, a friend, and a resident in Porcupine. Depending on what you hear, you may learn things about the town you weren’t expecting.
A Cool, Crisp Fall
The trick to making a small town interesting is making it appear bigger than it seems at first. This is something that Fall of Porcupine does effectively in numerous ways. The main method is via the cast.
Since this is a narrative adventure, dialogue is a big part of the experience and there is much that the citizens of Porcupine have to offer. You have a variety of hospital colleagues to talk with while you’re at work, a lot of citizens to chat with to and from work, and numerous friends to pass the time when you have time to pass. There are so many to meet, but there’s still time to get to know all of them and become part of the community.
It’d be weird to talk about a game where you play a doctor and not talk about the medical aspect of it all. One of your recurring activities is to go to St. Urusula’s (during whatever shift you’re on) and do your rounds. This involves visiting patients in different rooms, talking them up, and providing property treatment.
These are enjoyable mini-games that range from puzzles to reaction challenges, and though they appear simple, they can test you if you’re not paying attention. In the context of being a doctor, any mistake you make really hits you. Then there are humorous and more light-hearted mini-games that cover multiple genres and are a nice break from your time at the hospital.
For the graphic style and overall tone, it’s an interesting mix. The cute animal characters allow for a degree of separation from what’s happening, but it doesn’t lessen the impact of what Finley is experiencing. Characters will get sicker, they’ll fight, argue, and you’ll meet people that simply aren’t happy. As a doctor, you’ll want to help everyone only to realize that you can’t and there are some who don’t want to be helped.
A Prickly Proposition
Work can get hard in the colder seasons, especially for healthcare workers, making it difficult to have a pleasant experience. Fall of Porcupine tries to make things authentic, but falls when it comes to a few parts of the gameplay. What’s most disappointing is that although the game has a somewhat relaxed structure, it’s plagued with many technical issues.
For example, there are times when characters will freeze and slide across the screen without any inputs. Other times, if you quit at certain points, reloading will lock you out of continuing, and the system doesn’t allow for multiple checkpoints to revisit. When it comes to the mini-games, the controls aren’t always the most responsive and you’ll end up making mistakes despite a flawless performance, while others are a bit buggy in general.
The other big issue is that despite being designed as a slow-paced narrative adventure, it’s almost too slow. It takes way too long to get things going and there’s so much running around that you’ll forget that Porcupine is meant to be a small town. It helps when it comes to exploration, but there are some areas that make you think you’re visiting out of order. You can enter a place that has an important character, only to be met with complete silence. On the other hand, mission characters have no sense of memory, and will run through their initial dialogue even after you’ve already talked to them about starting the task.
Put On A Scarf for Fall of Porcupine
Fall of Porcupine is a 2D narrative adventure about a new young doctor working and learning in a small town hospital. It balances charming presentation with the gravity of real-world situations and keeps things varied with numerous mini-game types and a huge cast of characters to meet. However, it needs to tighten the screws on the technical side of things and find ways to pick up the pacing, like removing repetitive dialogue. If you’re looking for a seasonal escape with a health kick, check out Fall of Porcupine.
Fall of Porcupine was played on PC using a code provided by the developers. It’s also available on Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox.