Impression: Fall Of Porcupine – Overworked and Underpaid

Fall of Porcupine is a unique exploration of a broken medical system which explores the difficult work-life balance of those working in healthcare. I have so far completed the first act of the game, and feel I have gotten a good grip on the mechanics and controls for an impression of Fall of Porcupine so far. However, I am currently unable to complete Fall of Porcupine due to encountering a glitch.

Developed by Critical Rabbit, Fall of Porcupine follows Finley, a new medical resident at St. Ursula’s hospital, as he gets to grips with his new job in internal medicine, befriends colleagues, and goes about learning the secrets of his new home in the town of Porcupine. After a workplace injury, Finley is able to take three days off work before going back. It is clear from the start of Fall of Porcupine that he is not fully healed as he is plagued with nightmares which rest on the line between reality and imagination. Despite this, the busy nature of the hospital and constant influx of patients means Finley can’t take off the time he needs, being thrown back into his new job while still struggling.

Finley is having weird dreams
Finley is having weird dreams after his head injury

Fall of Porcupine is a narrative-driven game with mini-games interspersed between story elements. The mini-games are all creatively inserted into the story: from finding the correct pill dosage for a patient to organising blood samples and even playing a board game in a bar with some colleagues. At no point did it feel like I was being forced into an activity that didn’t fit in with the story. Some of these mini-games are easier than others, in part due to the limited number of keys that control them. One in particular requires the player to hold down a series of keys which can become challenging as they are all quite close together. Others are more challenging due to a puzzle aspect and the amount of thought that needs to be put into them, though none are so difficult that they are easy to fail. Some of these puzzles, particularly the ones which take place when caring for patients, are graded which adds to the desire to do well.

blood sorting mini game
One of the mini games asks players to help sort blood samples

Fall of Porcupine is beautifully illustrated and all of the characters have a charming yet unique look to them. They are each presented as different animals which adds a more whimsical element to the gameplay considering that the topic itself is quite difficult to digest.

While many people are of the opinion that gaming and politics do not mix, Fall of Porcupine captures the struggles that many doctors are facing across the world: Limited staffing, long hours and constantly demanding work meet a genuine desire to help people and a work culture that suggests that you should put others first and yourself second. 

Hospital workers queing in the cafeteria
Hospital workers represented by different animals queing in the cafeteria

While I am thoroughly enjoying Fall of the Porcupine so far, I have unfortunately encountered a bug that has left me struggling to move on. For some reason, all of the dialogue is now in German which I do not speak. I am hoping to finish playing as soon as the bug is fixed and can’t wait to find out more about the secrets in the story.

Despite the fact that I have not yet been able to experience the whole game, it is a lot of fun so far and has left me thinking about the wider message outside of my gameplay time. Based on what I have seen so far, it is definitely worth checking out Fall of Porcupine.

Megan is playing Fall of Porcupine on PC with a code provided by the developer. Fall of Porcupine is also available on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

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