Reviewing Human: Fall Flat has proven to be exceptionally challenging for one reason, and one reason only.
Could the reason be that it’s a bad premise for a game? Not at all. In fact, if anything, I find it to be quite the opposite. A physics-based three-dimensional puzzle-platformer (YOU get a hyphen, YOU get a hyphen, EVERYBODY GETS A HYPHEN!), Fall Flat could almost be described a reverse Grow Home, in which the goal isn’t to scale your way to the highest heights, but to find a way to the exit of each level – an exit which just so happens to involve a fairly precipitous drop to the next level. As a fan of Grow Home, I appreciated those similarities, no matter how small they actually are.
Could the reason be that the game’s ambience is lacking? Again, no. In fact, Fall Flat looks utterly charming, with every locale’s structures having a cartoonish chunkiness which – combined with the bright, open airiness of its spaces and the minimal nature of its soundtrack – gives it all an almost-welcoming feel. At times when the game could be considered somewhat frustrating, there was something oddly calming about the game’s look and ambience that kept me from chewing my controller.
Could the reason be that there’s just not enough game there to review? Well, it’s certainly not a long game, but not every game has to be, and Fall Flat’s brevity was actually refreshing to me, containing just the right amount to play through without overstaying its welcome through artificial elongating of its playtime. There are a ton of puzzle games out there that could have done with similar levels of constraint.
Could the reason be then that it’s just not a very good game? Absolutely, categorically not. As I become ever more jaded and world-weary, I live for the occasional pleasant surprise – a breath of fresh air, if you will – and Human: Fall Flat falls (no pun intended, honest) squarely into that description. By combining simplicity and open-endedness to create many of the game’s puzzles, Tomas Sakalauskas has created a game that offers replayability as you experiment with different ways to navigate the obstacles you face.
To give an early example, you find yourself locked in the court of a castle with two platforms – one scaleable, one not – and an archway through which cannot escape, due to the large vertical iron bars blocking your path. However, the key to it all is the one item you have at your disposal – a long wooden pole. With that pole, a number of options for escape open up. I counted at least three different solutions – one of precision, one of invention and one of leverage and brute force (just in case you’re wondering, I chose the latter. I’m a 38-year-old fat man).
The physics model allows for similar clever manipulation of the environment and the items within it throughout, and that level of freedom within such a small section was fun to mess around with. Also, completing a section one way – whilst knowing I could have done it in another – made me feel pretty smart at times. I’m easily amused these days.
To play Devil’s advocate for a minute, the game’s not perfect by any means. For all of its great examples of experimentation, there are also times where there is only one solution to complete a section and the actions needed to do so can be infuriatingly precise. The checkpointing can also be an issue, particularly on later levels, where your position may reset, but the position of items you need to traverse or complete a section doesn’t, often leaving you having to restart the level – obviously, this is pretty frustrating.
However, those are fairly minor misgivings which can hopefully be patched, and Human: Fall Flat represents an extremely enjoyable few hours which is well worth your time. Thoroughly recommended.
Oh, I almost forgot! The actual reason that this review was so challenging was that I decided to write it without mentioning its similarity to Gang Beasts…
Aw, son of a…
Human: Fall Flat
- Physics are spot-on
- Most sections offer replayability
- Possibly the best end-game credits ever. No, really.
- Can sometimes be frustratingly imprecise
- Checkpointing is less than ideal
- Can someone explain the purpose of the ragdoll button?