“Man is the most intelligent of the animals – and the most silly.”
“The following is a contributor post by the One-Winged Mage.”
One thing you should know about me is that I love when a game doesn’t take itself seriously. I love it even more when the game gives players the freedom to break its own mechanics should the player decide to go off the beaten path. So imagine my happiness when I discovered that Human Fall Flat, a 3D physics puzzle platformer, made its way onto the Nintendo Switch.
In this game you play as Bob, a humanoid creature that resembles a simplistic doll that is seemingly attempting to mimic human-like movements. You’re literally dropped into areas and tasked simply with finding the exit. The starting few areas are small and simple, designed to teach you the mechanics and the way you should approach puzzles. The levels then become huge exploration-rich playgrounds centered on a particular theme, such as construction or medieval.
The character moves sluggishly and awkwardly throughout the levels, so it may feel clumsy at first. Of course, this is all intentional and only adds to the quirky nature of the game. Your only two available actions are walking and grabbing objects. Your left and right arms are independently mapped to the shoulder buttons as sometimes you might want to grab two objects at a time or maneuver through more complex platforms. If you fall off the stage, which happens very often, you just land right back down to the last checkpoint so you can immediately try again.
You’ll scratch your head trying to figure out how to cross a wide chasm or escape an enclosed space using the few objects that are provided. Luckily, playing in co-op mode makes some of the puzzles a bit easier. Playing this game co-op doesn’t change anything about the levels themselves, however. All the puzzles can be solved by a single player but having a second set of helping hands certainly eases the trickier sections. Truth be told, I’ve never even tried playing this game solo; the idea doesn’t appeal to me.
What does interest me is manipulating the game’s physics and finding alternate solutions to the game’s many puzzles. This is where the co-op shines brightly; I played the entire game with my brother. Build a makeshift seesaw out of a box and long plank, stand on one side of the seesaw and have the other player drop a heavy object on the other side and see your character fly up in the air. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes I could clearly see the solution is but decided to try another way just for fun.
The best part of playing the levels is being able to explore and make discoveries. While most hard to reach areas only lead to dead ends, you could also find shortcuts that completely skip to the next puzzle. There was one puzzle in particular that my brother and I were stuck on for a long time until we ended up accidentally finding a secret tunnel that brought us to the next area. We also wasted many hours away just experimenting with the physics like it was our own private playground.
Recent free updates to Human Fall Flat have given me a reason to return the game as they added an entirely new level called ‘Dark’. It is a nighttime horror-themed level and was everything I hoped it would be, which just left me wanting more. Surprisingly, the developers have also added an up to 8-player online mode and additional costumes. I sincerely hope the updates keep coming.
Now, please enjoy this video of highlights I made full of random moments while playing with my brother:
The art style here is very simplistic. All the surfaces are a solid color and have no texture to them. The characters are fully customizable and it’s the only thing giving the characters any personality, otherwise they are just plain white blobs. There is, however, a sort of majestic beauty when you first step into a level and you see all the towering contraptions in the distance that you will get to play with eventually as you make your way through the levels. There is charm to be found in its simplicity.
This is a quiet game. In the beginning of a level, and at vital points throughout the level, you hear wonderful piano or orchestrated scores that last a few minutes. For most of the game though all you get is just plain silence, with very little atmospheric sounds. The characters are voiceless, and even the thud of when you fall to the floor sounds a bit flat (pun intended?).
It’s a bit worrisome when you need a tutorial just to figure out how to pick up an object, but the controls are designed in a way that allows you freedom to manipulate objects however you’d like. Though it may be a bit clunky, attempting to pick up a key and sticking it in the keyhole the right way is part of the challenge and fun.
The physics feel right and become fun to manipulate and experiment with once you get used to it. You may run into a few glitches though luckily none that break the game. If anything, seeing an object glitch with the environment will only add to the laughter. The game starts out simple enough, but soon you’ll be operating heavy equipment and vehicles in surprising ways.
If you play this game by yourself, you’ll play it for the puzzles. If you play it with a buddy in couch co-op, you’ll play it for the fun, laughs and completely unpredictable moments that you encounter. I got excited every single time I booted up the game because I knew I would have a blast. Even replaying levels has appeal. Even though you will know how to solve the puzzles by that point, there’s still the freedom of experimentation to have fun with.
This game was made for two players, so imagine my surprise when the developers added 8-player online support. Attempting to solve some of these puzzles with 7 other players is an insane, but hysterical, undertaking. The thing is that since the game was made with two players in mind, the glitches become even more commonplace and hectic. A lift for two will suddenly have half a dozen players hanging off of it trying to ride it. I found the sight hilarious, but understand that it may frustrate others.
If you do jump into a full game, play it for the experience without worrying about actually completing the levels. You may also run into lag that renders the game unplayable, depending on who’s hosting. If this is the case, simply exit the match and find another one. As of the time of writing, there are still a good amount of people playing, so there are plenty of online rooms to choose from.
The following image gallery showcases some of the insanely hectic moments that I experienced while playing with a full 8-player roster:
As I previously stated, the first couple of levels are designed as tutorial levels and they are a necessity. Although there are few actions to perform by your character, it does take getting used to. The camera dictates where your arms are pointing towards so you’re constantly manipulating both triggers as well as both joysticks. An example: to climb a ledge you must first hold both arms forward, then when you jump towards the ledge you must point the camera down so that the movement of the arms going down lifts your character up, and you have to let go at the right moment to keep the momentum of climbing. Once you do get used to the controls it does become second nature and you’ll be performing tasks with relative ease.
Thanks to the freedom and unpredictability of the world, there’s plenty of fun to be had even after completion. I consistently find myself laughing out loud every time I boot up this game. As long as you’re not playing it for the puzzles, this is one game you’ll keep coming back to. The main game is a pretty good length as well. Depending on how fast you solve the puzzles it could take around 10 – 15 hours.
For me, there was never a dull moment in this game. Even during the parts where I got stuck with no idea how to proceed, I was still able to have fun playing with the physics. There were even a few times that my brother and I would find a shortcut and accidentally skip a section and we would go back just to solve the puzzle the “right” way because it’s just so entertaining.
Aggregated Score: 7.3
The One-Winged Mage, aka Kalas, may have been born with only one wing, but fear not for he has found a wonderful community of friends to share his love of games through Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.
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Categories: Game Review