Author's note: review is as spoiler-free as possible. No events or subplots in the game are stated in this review, but certain gameplay mechanics are touched on for sake of information.
Downfall is one of the most morbidly depressing games I've played in recent years, combining both dark humour and an atmosphere that makes your heart palpitate in places, here and there. Gore, as seen in the screenshots, is aplenty, and while it can be a bit too excessive at times - so much so that it becomes overly illusory, rather than having the intended creepy effect - for the most part it manages to deliver a thoroughly spine tingling experience.
The story is also very nicely plotted out, despite a few cliffhangers by the end of the game that are best left to the player's guess. There is plenty of dark humour scattered throughout the game, which gave rise to some laughs. I don't remember a single joke that felt out of place. Interacting with the various characters that you'll meet in the game is a joy, as they have their own distinct personalities. Some you'll feel sorry for, and empathize with, further drawing a sense of connection between the player and the game.
You'll also get to make several choices intermittently that will eventually affect how the game plays out, both mid-game and finale, which I thought was a very cool feature, since it makes the game feel less static and more intriguing.
All the above should have easily credited the game with a 5-star rating. However, the game has some fundamental flaws. To begin with the less severe problem, the puzzles are not bad, and thankfully aren't overwhelmingly frustrating or poorly designed purposefully; however, the lack of objective and direction, especially due to no explanation on the character's part as to why certain objects can't be used with certain world entities, can be quite annoying at times, falling into the "why can't I use object A with object B anyway?" category. These moments are few, but they certainly exist.
Next is the speech. An adventure game not having vocals is forgivable; an adventure game not having vocals and having typos all over the place is not. It might not have been that bad if it was just a one-off thing, but spelling and grammar errors in the game are consistent, even until the end of the game. In fact, the most often misspelled word is probably "propably". It's a shame, because there is much creativity behind the writing. Another issue I took up with the writing is the sporadic use of the "f" word. Used sparingly, it can elicit the appropriate tension and mood; go overboard with it, and it takes off with the suspension of disbelief, at times having the unintended effect of incredulity on the player.
Lastly, there are the crash-to-desktop bugs, which are not frequent enough to cause major frustration, but still make their presence known. Not everyone may encounter this in their playthrough, but having successfully replicated the two CTDs that I experienced, I believe it's not a problem with my game. One CTD actually occurred in one of the multiple endings (the 3rd one, for those who have completed the game), making the game impossible to complete via that ending. I've contacted the developer regarding this issue, but he has yet to reply me since, so I'll have to assume it's an issue with the game.
All in all, did I have fun with Downfall? Yes, I certainly did. I really wanted to give this a perfect score, but the lack of proper testing on the final product is its biggest put-down. It has the potential to step into one of the finest adventure games in recent years - there's just so much to like about it. Unfortunately, there's also a lot to gripe about it. The final score I'd give is 3.5/5, rounded up to 4.