Human Fall Flat: review

  • Format: Switch (version reviewed), PC, Xbox One, PS4
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Curve Digital
  • Developer: No Brakes Games
  • Players: 1-2 (1-8 on PC)
  • Site: http://www.nobrakesgames.com/human/
  • Game code provided by PR

Human Fall Flat is but one of many physics based puzzle games that you’ve probably already heard of; mostly because it’s been out on other platforms for quite a while now. It’s made its way onto the Switch but without anything new tailor-made for the format. It still makes use of the ability to play with two players on one screen, including in tabletop mode, but you won’t see any motion control gimmicks.

You play as Bob, a plump plasticine-like man who wobbles around, as his body isn’t quite as solid as it should be. And while he is plump, that’s not the reason he wobbles. His arms, spine, and legs are very gelatinous in nature and don’t really conform to what humans are used to. This means you’ll often see Bob with his arms wrenched over his shoulder, or legs flapping about like a jellyfish as he hasn’t quite stood up properly but somehow manages to walk relatively normally. And that’s the joke. Bob is a chubby blob-man who can’t be hurt. So wouldn’t it be fun to see him get smacked about and fall around as he tries to leave his sterile nightmare?

Urrrgh. That’s what it started to feel like after the first few levels. It’s not that we had seen everything that was on offer, but muddling through the purposefully awkward controls feels like a lot of effort and is quite draining. Okay, ‘awkward’ isn’t the best description because the controls are intuitive. The difficulty lies in actually getting things to do what you want them to with Bob.

Both arms can be controlled independently, with the left and right triggers. Once you’re controlling an arm, regardless of whether or not Bob has his sticky mitts on anything, his arms will follow the camera. So, look up and his arms will follow; look left and they’ll swing left, etc. He’ll contort in all sorts of ways as you try to do even the most mundane of interactions; like pulling levers or opening doors.

It also means that the vast majority of the time is spent swinging Bob’s arms around, making him look like a Zombie, a member of the Alt Right, or a massive baby. Mixed with his shuffling wobbling walk, it makes for an amusing but not game-carrying sight.

Wielding objects can vary from easy (like moving rocks) to ‘desperately flailing about with an oar as you try to row a boat’. The latter is meant to be funny, but it just makes us tired and wanting to stop. The increasingly unwieldy items you have to use to solve puzzles are less than fun to use. It’s not just the trying to get long poles to do what you want, but things like driving vehicles is a difficult yet interesting surprise… the first time. Remembering how much effort it was to maneuver one that first time made any subsequent encounters make us immediately think “oh, not again” and let out a tiny weary sigh.

Much like the majority of the physics-based puzzle games out there, it tends to rely heavily on the physics doing all the entertaining. This means that there are lots of easy to moderate difficulty puzzles to solve, but instead of trying to use your head to work out the solution and deftly solving the puzzle, you’re usually able to see exactly what you need to do – but have to struggle to get it done.

There are still some fun puzzles in there that even we, with such hard and unloving hearts, enjoyed. It just feels like you’re fighting the controls more than trying to work out any puzzles. It doesn’t help that falling off the map on some of the more difficult puzzles will reset all the objects back to a previous position. Sometimes that undoes a lot of hard work, and simply wears you down.

Unhelpfully, some of the larger objects are prone to getting caught in other objects, which certainly didn’t make any of the puzzles easier. Also, the resetting of checkpoints doesn’t put things back exactly in the right place. We had to reset a checkpoint a few times to get an oar to appear somewhere that was accessible, rather than so close to the nearby boat knocking it out of reach was inevitable.

It’s very much a game for a particular audience. We like puzzle games usually, and some levels here are alright; but the whole funny physics schtick isn’t for us. If it’s for you then, oh boy, you’re gonna have a swell time – especially with friends. But for us, it was an often gruelling task to play through after the first few levels, with few moments that we genuinely enjoyed.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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