Human Fall Flat is a puzzle-based game that has already released on consoles but is now available for the PC. Joining the party relatively late, I tinkered with the game, and the following selection of words are my thoughts.
Physics-based games with ragdoll mechanics make me chuckle, but I also find them infuriating when you can’t perform simple tasks like walk in a straight line, or ricochet off an object like jelly being thrown at a trampoline. A double-edged sword?
Human Fall Flat, from No Brakes Games and Curve Digital, ticks both boxes to some degree. The first is a funny slapstick-esque puzzle/platformer where it feels like your character is made from a mattress, but the other part is the climbing and jumping aspects which are erratic, to say the least.
Human Fall Flat Review
As you’re a regular to Vulgar Knight, you’ll already know a bit about me. I don’t like visual novels much, seldom play online multiplayer and like walks in the park. The second one is relevant as you can play Human Fall Flat with friends or strangers alike.
For me, it was a solo affair. Sure, I had a play online, but local would have been better for me, but it wasn’t an option – lockdown and what-not. So, this review is based on the solo campaign and bits and bobs rather than the online element. If you want to know how that plays, erm, play the game with some friends…?
When it comes to being on your lonesome, you’re faced with many puzzles to solve using your flabby limbs that not only lack opposable thumbs but fingers too. You’ll be expected to push and pull objects, hit buttons and jump across seemingly small but tricky chasms to reach the other side.
There’s no story as such, but each stage ends with walking through a door and falling flat on your face in the next area. It’s in the title. You can’t die, there are no time limits per se, and you can rinse and repeat each section without restriction until you move to the next area.
Rags To Riches
Human Fall Flat falls into the same category as Gang Beasts when it comes to controls and movement. While Gang Beasts lacked in solo endeavours but excelled at multiplayer modes, Human Fall Flat caters for Billy-No-Mates with some decent challenges.
The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, as you can imagine, and though it has the objective of walking through the next doorway to the next puzzle, you’re free to experiment. It’s like the Crystal Maze but without teammates shouting at you and no time limit.
Sure, there’s no timer, but you do have to act quickly in some areas as you will move an object that picks up momentum and you need to grab or leap off it; otherwise, you start again. It’s not the end of the world, but where precision is required, it’s not easy to apply.
Playing with the mouse and keyboard, I found the jumping mechanic to be difficult at best. With the left and right mouse buttons, you will operate the left and right arms independently, and they stick to surfaces like a greasy teenager until you let go.
Jump, Magic, Jump
With this Spider-Man grip, you can hold onto dear life with some moving objects, but let go, and you’ve probably had it. When it comes to jumping, other than the stubby-legged hop you can perform with the spacebar, you have to jump then grip an edge then pull yourself up.
On paper, this makes sense, but in practice, it’s hard to use the mouse to look in the direction you’re going while jumping and grabbing at the same time, drag the mouse down then letting go to pull yourself up.
The expectations from Human Fall Flat is similar to my wife; ‘of course, you can do more than one thing at once!?’ Nope. With the gamer gene, I can perform several actions in sequence, but for some reason, controlling my character was just so clumsy. The intent of the game perhaps, but equally, it generates a fine level of frustration that you know what to do, you just can’t do it.
As for the actual Human Fall Flat gameplay? It’s very good, and I mostly enjoyed my time playing it. The mistakes were often funny ones, and while I didn’t play many online games, I showcased to my eldest, and we had a blast taking turns – laughing at one another when we would almost purposely let go of a rope mid-swing.
Let Me Slip Into Something More Comfortable
I’m impressed that this is only the 100th time that I’ve compared this to Gang Beasts, but Human Fall Flat had the edge over the customisation options (at least compared to the PS4 version) as there’s a wealth of costumes but also a free paint mode where you can change colours of various clothing and write offensive words like ‘bum’ on your t-shirt. I may or may not have done this.
If you’re a fan of minimalism as much as I am, you’ll appreciate the design of this game. There are no textures to the modelling, but that works in its favour. Characters are faceless but the contours and animation of their wobbly bits (family-friendly) and the fabrics, if you opted for them, are excellent.
Equally, the level design is often simple, but devilishly simple. There will be times when the solution is so obvious, but the execution is off. That’s probably a mixture of the player, but also the sometimes frustrating gameplay mechanics. There are hints in the game, and they genuinely do help.
One point worth mentioning is this isn’t a free-for-all as such and level-based. Compared to Gang Beasts, stages are broader and more of an obstacle course than a sandbox of fisticuffs. For this reason, as there’s an objective, this makes Human Fall Flat a little trickier: in Gang Beasts you have to beat the other players, for Human Fall Flat you need to solve a common goal and reach the door…
If you can persevere with the frustrating physics elements, Human Fall Flat features an array of quality puzzles for the solo gamer and an equal amount of fun, if not more when playing with friends. Like Gang Beasts (200th time), it got progressively better when played with someone else. Laughing at others misfortune in a light-hearted gaming environment is a lot of fun.
Human Fall Flat
If you liked the idea of Gang Beasts but wanted something you could play by yourself, Human Fall Flat is the perfect alternative. That said, it also has a very strong multiplayer option, making it the better of the two.
- Unique physics gameplay.
- A lot of fun when it goes your way.
- Caters for solo and multiplayer, but better with an audience.
- Frustrating response to controls (nature of physics games).
- Minimalist aesthetic won't be everyone's cup o' tea.
- Some platforming sections are a pig to deal with.