Fall of Porcupine is a 2D story-driven adventure developed by Critical Rabbit and published by Assemble Entertainment. The game releases on June 15, 2023, on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch and had a prologue last year as well as being part of the recent LudoNarraCon event. This is a cozy and heartwarming game about a young pigeon named Finley who works at St. Ursula Hospital, giving us a tiny peak into life as a healthcare worker treating patients, and what he gets up to with friends in his downtime.
The first thing that attracted me to the game was the music track playing in the game’s release date trailer. I am dying to know if the song can be downloaded from somewhere as I don’t know the artist or title (nor does Shazam!), but it’s an amazing and chill song. The overall soundtrack for the game is super chill and really does set the mood and tone throughout. It was great background music when walking between locations and figuring out the minigames.
Finley has recently graduated as a doctor and is still new to working at the hospital, but he suffered a workplace accident recently. We start the game where Finley is in a dream-like state that introduces us to the colourful world and how to move and interact as Finley. After this sequence, we can look at his messages to gain a little bit of insight into Finley and his known contacts prior to and during the accident which sets the scene for some of the relationships Finley has in town.
There are all sorts of characters we meet along the way to work at the hospital as Finley runs through town, finding out the bus has broken down. Most of the townsfolk are happy to have a chat to Finley and a little note about them is stored in Finley’s phone notes. The game’s artwork is fantastic with quirky animal character designs and the field of view zooms out slightly as Finley walks over a bridge or near a tree or landmark that we can interact with for a bit of history into Porcupine.
While working at the hospital, we are under the supervision of the strict and hard-as-nails Dr. Krokowski. We report in with her initially as she introduces us to our first patients, and then each shift that Finley’s works has new patient tasks in his phone task list. We only deal with three patients at a time, so it is not overwhelming at all, and after speaking with the patients, we go through several types of minigames where we adjust a patient’s medicine dosage, inject them with a needle, listen to their lungs, and more.
These minigames are mostly simple and test your logic, speed, patience and skill, but can be frustrating at first. There is a written explanation prior to starting each one, but it would have been great to have a small preview video of each new minigame type as you come across them. You read the text and think you are ready, and then it’s more a trial and error until you teach yourself the mechanics. Once you’ve completed each minigame type a couple of times, it does get a lot easier. That was until my first night shift.
Things start happening around the hospital and around town, especially at nighttime. The intensity of some of the minigames increased when on night shift, but it also depended on the urgency of treating particular patients. An incident happens at the hospital and Finley, along with a couple of friends, head to the pub to unwind. Whilst there, they run into a troublesome duo and a classic bar fight kicks off into another fighting minigame.
Other times we catch up with workmates or other townsfolk and other minigames occur, but more importantly we start to delve into some emotional moments for some of the characters. We meet one of our workmates and blow off some steam by shooting some hoops of basketball. Another time we head off into the woods where there is some platforming as we try to repair some stick effigies and uncover a haunting past.
Finley’s adventures (and misadventures) lead to sensitive territory dealing with themes like death, illness, mental health, and grief. Fall of Porcupine sensitively tackles each of these with approachable storylines, relatable characters, and resonating dialogue. It certainly touches the heart strings as you play through each scenario, and Finley’s happenings resonated with the work/life balance we all work towards, and it gave me a reminder to always reach out to your friends and family on a regular basis, and even more so when things feel a little off. I did find that the game didn’t save very often, and I lost some progress early on. Make sure you finish your work at the hospital each shift and get back home before logging out. There is a subtle white icon in the bottom right that indicates a save point, so look out for those.
Overall, Fall of Porcupine is a great game that is heartwarming and relaxing to play that gives us a tiny peak into the life of healthcare workers. The soundtrack is amazing as you help treat patients and help friends and other characters you meet along the way. Some of the situations you face are emotional, but the undertones remind you to look at your own life balance and reach out to friends and family when in need.