Review – Human: Fall Flat
Human: Fall Flat is a delightfully charming game that will keep you hooked from beginning to end with its goofy physics, puzzles, and simple bare-bones look. Unfortunately, one of the game’s strengths can oftentimes become its main weakness. While the physics and inebriated player controls can lead to some very funny and at times rewarding moments, it can also become very frustrating when you try to do any intricate actions.
You play as Bob, a plain and simple man with a body like Baymax from Big Hero 6 but with less features. While Bob’s default look is just a white blob with limbs, you can customize his clothes and a few accessories. Unlike Baymax, Bob seems to have a drinking problem or he has Benjamin Button disease, either way he controls like a child who is just learning how to use its limbs. These controls are deliberate due to the fact that Bob is completely governed by the game’s physics system. The slightest flick of the joystick can cause Bob to start stumbling in that direction, which is funny and cute in open areas but can get frustrating once you need to do some finer movements.
The controls are simple, but due to Bob’s lack of finer motor skills and having to control each action separately, they have quite a learning curve. Using the LT and RT buttons will have Bob grab onto anything that is within his reach with either his left or right hand using the related input. The right stick controls the body orientation and where Bob will reach his arms and A is to jump. That is essentially all the controls are, but it’s the puzzles and environment that will make these simple controls difficult. For example, to climb on a ledge you’ll have to hold up on the Right Stick to reach your arms up, jump to the ledge, press and hold both LT and RT to grab the ledge, hold down on the Right Stick to pull yourself up the ledge and then time the release of your hands (left and right triggers) at the peak of the ledge to finish the climb.
While these inputs work the majority of the time, there are some issues. Having to use the Right Stick to hold your hands up before a jump will cause the camera to also pan up and in some scenarios makes it so you can’t see the floor to time your jump. There were also a few times where Bob would not grab onto some things or ledges, which caused some seriously frustrating moments. Another problem with Bob’s limbs being controlled by the physics system is that oftentimes he will get an arm stuck behind his back or head. While it’s amusing the first couple times you grab the back of your head and push it down, it soon becomes another annoyance on top of the puzzles.
Speaking of the puzzles, and without getting into spoiler territory, I will say the majority of them are well done and rewarding when you nail the execution or you end up accidentally stumbling through it. Each level is unique with its own set of puzzles that fit the theme of the level well. The levels gradually get harder, but it’s in the later levels where the flaws start showing. Some sections last longer than they should and require some precise movements that are very difficult to do with drunk Bob. That being said, I never felt the puzzles were unfair or overly difficult. Also, if things get too tough you can always have a friend jump on in with you and help you with full co-op though the entire game. Co-op can also lead to some more very funny moments messing around with each other using the physics system.
Each level is also laid out well, offering multiple ways to accomplish your goal. There are even shortcuts and alternate paths to find that can make replaying it worthwhile. The achievements are also fun to get, requiring you to actually search through and explore each level for these hidden alternate paths or have you try and solve puzzles in different ways.
The graphics are very simple. I already explained Bob’s featureless form, but that also applies to environment details. No surface of Human: Fall Flat has any textures. Everything is flat, but it works for the overall design of the game. While there are no textures, everything is colored nicely and shaded properly. Not to mention the simple look is actually relaxing. Sound design isn’t very good, however. There are a couple of nice, playful tunes to stumble around with, but world and item sound effects aren’t great. The vehicles are the real culprit, showing off some really low quality sound effects.
Overall Human: Fall Flat is a very fun and unique puzzle game that requires a bit of patience to get used to the controls and physics controlled rules, but when you pull off a chain of actions and pass a puzzle perfectly or even by accident it is very rewarding. It’s charming and fun and it will have you laugh and curse in equal measure. And while some of the later levels will test you and make you want to rage quit, these frustrating moments never last long and are followed by another greatly enjoyable moment. With some decent replay value and having full co-op support, Human: Fall Flat is definitely worth the asking price.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Human: Fall Flat is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4