Human: Fall Flat puts you in the shoes of Bob, a play-doh like figure who is tasked with solving a series of tricky physics-based puzzles. There isn’t some huge overarching plot to it all; it’s simplicity at its finest, with Bob simply having to travel across different environments based upon his dreams all whilst pulling, pushing, and pressing everything that appears in front of him. It starts off pretty simple and self explanatory with nothing really testing you too much, but the further you progress through the game the more complicated each enigma becomes.
With its heavy dependence on physics-based puzzling and platforming, you’ll have to perform a lot of Bob’s actions manually. Something that’d be simple in another game isn’t so straightforward here; you have complete manual control over both of Bob’s arms, so menial tasks such as dragging an object around or climbing over an obstacle requires more than the simple press of a button. Thankfully, the control mechanics are perfectly implemented, with each action easily performed by using the analogue sticks and the shoulder buttons.
The thought of having to manually control both arms might seem intimidating but it’s mapped perfectly to the controller, leaving it easy for just about anyone to pick up and play the game with minimal fuss. Don’t get me wrong, some of the more complicated manoeuvres will take some getting used to, but it won’t take you too long before you’re performing acrobatic feats with ease. It really is incredibly accessible, which is ideal seeing as the game doesn’t shy away from introducing puzzles that demand precise movements.
Whilst Human: Fall Flat is technically a puzzle game, it’s not the most mentally testing you’re going to find in the genre. Rather than making you work with your mind, you’re instead tasked with using Bob’s body in a variety of different ways to solve each obstacle that comes your way. It’s not just Bob’s body that you have to use though, but also items in the environment – most of the time it’s fairly obvious what you need to do, but actually using the item in the right way can be the tricky part. Whilst a personal favourite was using a metal bar to help work my way down a zip-wire (which was honestly ingenious when done in a physics-based game), you’ll also be doing things like potching around with electrics wires, blasting around on a catapult, or using an on-rails cart as a moving treadmill whilst holding onto a huge pillar. It’s surprisingly clever in the way that it uses everyday objects in unorthodox ways, demanding you think outside the box a little in order to progress. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never TOO testing, but there’s certainly satisfaction to be found with each eureka moment.
The game isn’t just about puzzle solving though, with each environment found in Human: Fall Flat containing a lot of platforming sections. When you’re initially getting used to the controls they can be a little awkward, especially whilst climbing up hefty cliffs, but it doesn’t take too long to pick up on things. It’s not that there’s any real consequences to suffer if you fail at platforming though – missing a jump and plummeting to your death simply sees you respawn from the point where you fell, alleviating the player of any sense of risk during any of the death-defying jumps. This can take away any real sense of challenge posed upon the player. I mean, when you know you’re not going to ‘lose’, you don’t worry so much at lining every jump up perfectly. It’s hardly the sort of game that you go to in order to feel challenged though – you play Human: Fall Flat for some crazy physics-based fun, and it certainly provides plenty of that.
Human: Fall Flat isn’t really the biggest of games you’ll play, with the whole thing easily beatable in around four hours. It does offer some replayability though in the way that each level can feel like a playground. With the freedom to drag, drop, and throw things around it’s easy to get distracted by things in the environment. It might be something simple like an ‘inaccessible’ area that you’ll see as a challenge to reach through some form of physics manipulation, so there’s certainly a sense of depth that can be found by making your own little tasks. Those who play purely for the puzzles won’t find much to return for though; once you’ve finished them once, there’s nothing that really pulls you back in – well, from a single player perspective anyway…
As with any video game that gives you the freedom to mess around in silly ways, it’s always a million times better when done with another player. Thankfully, Human: Fall Flat includes split-screen co-op play, allowing the player and a friend to blast through some physics-based platforming fun together. There are no changes made to each level’s layout to accommodate for this extra player though, so it makes progression through puzzles a hell of a lot easier with that extra pair of helping hands.
It does make it possible to solve puzzles in more unorthodox ways though – I never got to a point where I broke the game with an extra player, but our unconventional approach to each cleverly designed puzzle did work against what the developer might have intended. It all added to the fun though, and of course, you don’t HAVE to work together. You can go out of your way to cause as much havoc for your co-op partner as possible, which is always a lot of fun in a physics-based game. Playing in co-op is certainly a highly enjoyable way to play Human: Fall Flat and I’d recommend all players try it at least once just to experience the game in a whole different way.
As expected in a physics-based game, there are a few issues that’ll crop up throughout your time in Human: Fall Flat, though nothing so bad that it’ll ruin your experience. It typically boiled down to the camera controls, with it often a little difficult to see what exactly you’re doing. Whilst this isn’t too common a problem, sometimes you need to see a bit further afield than is visible, making it even trickier to solve a few puzzles. There’s also the fact that required objects will sometimes so missing or that Bob will get stuck in the environment, forcing you to quickly reset to a checkpoint in order to progress. The frame rate could also be a little up and down, which was distracting but never unplayable. Again, none of these are game-breaking bugs, but they could be a nuisance whilst playing.
Human: Fall Flat will certainly keep you entertained with its physics-based puzzling and charming gameplay, especially when played with a friend. Whilst I’ll admit it doesn’t really offer anything that’ll blow you away, it offers enough to ensure you’ll be having plenty of fun from start to end.
It’s far from perfect with its bugs and often tricky camera controls, but I’d certainly recommend giving Human: Fall Flat a try. It’s a good way to spend a few hours and with plenty of wacky situations to find yourself in, you’re guaranteed to get plenty of laughs out of it along the way.
Developer: No Brakes Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: 12/05/2017
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), Playstation 4, PC, Mac, Linux