After decades of toil, an old machinist plots his escape from the oppressive grasp of the Communist regime. Through hidden passages, shadow and grief, he struggles. Ingenuity, reflexes and deception are his tools. Along the road, he befriends the most unlikely creature, an abandoned little robot. Could they escape this bleak and deadly world, together?
Black The Fall was born 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 endured.
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 alternative course of action, where anyone has the chance to outsmart the system and escape it."
Sand Sailor Studio is a Bucharest-based independent game development company founded in 2014. Their adventure began with Black The Fall, an atmospheric puzzler which gracefully made it from a successful Kickstarter campaign, through a gaming accelerator and onto a solid collaboration with Square Enix. Now, the fizzy team of nine is determined to bring to light Romania's communism stories, so prepare the PCs and consoles for some dark puzzles and keep an eye out for Black The Fall, second quarter of 2017.
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.
Awards & Nominations
WINNER - Excellence in Game Design, by BIC Award 2016
WINNER - Best Indie Game at Gamescom 2016, by spawn.sk
NOMINEE - Best Indie Game, by Gamescom 2016
NOMINEE - Best Art, by BIC Award 2016
NOMINEE - Best Narrative, by BIC Award 2016
NOMINEE - Best Art, by BIG Festival 2016
Sand Sailor Studio
based in Bucharest, Romania
July 11th, 2017
PC, PS4 & Xbox One
Studio founding date
Press / Business contact
Andreea Vaduva, PR & Marketing Manager
Cristian Diaconescu, Creative Director
Gamepedia Wiki Page
As a piece of self-expression, Black the Fall is therefore more an impressionistic sketch than a historically accurate document.
- Thomas McMullan, alphr.com
Perhaps that's the most inadvertently chilling thing about the game — how quickly the world moves on, and how soon we forget. Then again, that's why humans create things like Black the Fall.
- Elliot Gardner, kotaku.co.uk
Death, followed by success, followed by death, and success, repeated across a series of brain-tickling teasers of macabre design..
- Mike Diver, vice.com
An example of beautiful minimalism in game design.
- Matt Kamen, wired.co.uk
Lovely aesthetic and nails-tough puzzling.
- Jason Schreier, kotaku.com
I have a crush for Black the Fall
- , jeuxvideo.com
Its dystopian, industrial setting is particularly worthy of praise.
-Kris Lipscombe, thesixthaxis.com
I’m in love with the aesthetic.
It’s a remarkable vision of a destroyed world.
- Ben Barrett, rockpapershotgun.com
One of the more striking 2.5D adventures on the horizon.
- Jeffrey Matulef, eurogamer.net '
You are not alone in this world.
- Christian Valentin, pocketgamer.co.uk
The game looks really cool and sounds even cooler.
- Lance Liebl, gamezone.com
Dark and brooding puzzler.
- Dave Cook, vg247.com
It looks stunning visually.
- Rob Morrow, destructoid.com
Cristian Diaconescu, Creative Director
Razvan Dumitrache, Senior Programmer
Adrian Licuriceanu, Senior Programmer
Adrian Cristea, Render Programmer
Nicoleta Iordanescu, Level Designer
Andrei Dragomir, Level Designer
Marius Mustata, Level Designer
Andreea Zamfir, Level Designer
Alexandru Seidiu, Sound Designer
Ewen Sinclair, Music Production
Environments, Music Production
Andreea Vaduva, Community Manager