Could This Be The Fall Of Porcupine?

Help Finley manage the work/life balance as an intern doctor at St. Ursula's Hospital in Fall of Porcupine.

The worst part about Fall of Porcupine isn’t the challenge of work/life balance, the stress of taking care of patients, or the somewhat filler-like platforming sections. It’s the fact that, at the time of writing, it isn’t compatible with the Steam Deck

Oh, how I wish I could storm the corridors of St. Ursula’s Hospital, start fights at the local dive bar, or have surreal, lucid dreams involving houseplants while on the sofa, in the bath, or a hospital bed being attended to by young Finley as I dropped the Steam Deck in the tepid water.

Why the big deal? Why does it matter whether you can play Fall of Porcupine on the go? Am I being lazy? No. Critical Rabbit and Assemble Entertainment’s title is simply a wholesome affair, which you might want to snuggle up to with a big chunk of whirring plastic, illuminating the bedroom ceiling with silhouettes of a pigeon.

Fall of Porcupine
Source: Steam

Fall of Porcupine Review – PC

In the game, you play an intern named Finley, shadowing senior staff and being allocated a register of patients to complete your daily ’rounds’, so Finley can become a junior doctor in due course. Just as long as they complete a heap of mini-games relevant to saving patients and others for bits ‘n pieces.

Fall of Porcupine may moonlight as a hospital sim, but in reality, and despite the anthropomorphic animals, it’s a very human tale. As one might imagine, not everyone who goes to a hospital comes back out better, and it’s your job to process that while balancing a life outside of the hospital, too. Keyword, folks: resilience.

Not that this is a full-on management sim or sandbox where you can run around with a scalpel, sell pharmaceuticals on the side, or skive off your shift when you feel like it, but it does feel like a lived-in world going through the cycles that many of us experience every day. Get up, go to work, sleep, repeat. Insert fun somewhere. Perhaps you can talk to the locals between shifts?

Fall of Porcupine Review - It's a hoot
It’s a hoot! Source: Steam

Far From Prickly

Look at the Steam page or watch the trailer further down, and you’ll see that Fall of Porcupine is a lovely-looking game. It wooed (cooed?) me back during the Prologue, and it’s even better in full. Beautiful illustrations, a soulful colour palette, and a suitable musical score make this bubbling with goodness. Hold the puke, really – I love the presentation.

It isn’t a talkie, so you have to read the dialogue exchanges, even choosing some from a tree, when mingling with colleagues and the community. These exchanges work well, building character and making everything feel so lovely and all, but then the clouds come into sight and pee on the parade a tad.

First of all, Fall of Porcupine is on rails. Irrespective of scores in the long list of mini-games, they don’t affect the story, and you’re continually pushed in one direction. Finley’s interactions and their experiences may mirror your own and be somewhat relatable, regardless of your profession, background or even if you’re a bird or not. However, some of these mini-games stray from the narrative, as does the platforming.

Don’t Pigeonhole Into A Genre

On reflection, I didn’t get the platforming in the demo, let alone the full game. Yes, it’s nice strolling through town and jumping over stuff when doing a monotonous strut, but I’d rather be grounded and have this play out like a point and click or modified one. It’s neither a point and click, nor a puzzle game, but it has all those elements. The story could carry it, but it’s interrupted by some roaming and – you guessed it, mini-games.

But fellow suckers for story and character development will be interested in how this plays out, and going full circle, Fall of Porcupine is wholesome. That’s one of those overused buzzwords (that and cosy), and I find it’s the wrong choice. While the game is emotionally charged, I found a lot of comfort with the storytelling and feels it portrayed.

The game could be fairly compared to Night In The Woods, aesthetically and with some themes, but I was never a fan. For me, it’s more like a blend of Old Man’s JourneyRainswept, and all those classic Amiga games that were simple in execution but the ones you played more than anything. It’s nothing like The Jetsons, but something about it reminds me of that game. Damn. That’s in writing forever. Don’t quote me on it.

Verdict

Fall of Porcupine won’t be for everyone. It won’t fast-track that PhD you’re after (nor will ChatGPT), nor will it satisfy your demanding open-world needs as it’s not that type of game. But, if you take it at face value, you might take something away to help you with your own work/life balance. It’s relatable, and some gorgeous visuals duly support it.