Human: Fall Flat Review
Platform games haven't changed much and typically only triple-A franchises are the successors. Anytime there is a developer willing to challenge the triple-A giants I welcome it like a breath of fresh air. Triple-A platforms have a formula they stick with and rarely deviate from. Stick with what works right? Well, not all the time, eventually gameplay does get stale and boring. No Brake Games developer has tossed their hat into the ring and in a very odd way. A breath of fresh air like I said? Not so much.
Human: Fall Flat is all about Bob and his dreams. We all have a reoccurring nightmare or fear of something in our dreams and for Bob it is falling. I'm no expert, but in most people's dreams they tend to be simplistic, but meaningful and sometimes familiar. Bob's dreams are driven by the fear of constantly falling, although every once in a while he gets stopped by an environment he must wander through. Each environment is filled with very simplistic objects such as boxes, trees, buildings, ropes, mountains, doors, etc. And by simplistic I mean that every object is flat and not textured. Appearing to be simplistic doesn't necessarily mean they are or act simplistic. Almost every object in the game Bob can interact with has a set of physics associated. They react a certain way depending on their intended use. Some of the physics make complete sense while others are wildly characteristic and harder to control or manipulate. The use of all objects varies, too. Sometimes you will use a box to trigger a switch to open a door or to push up against a wall and use it to climb to higher ground. Another time you may use a catapult to throw a rock or, heck, even yourself across a gap in the floor or to smash a window. The one bonus to all of this is that each environment is an open world. Most of the time there is a specific objective that is to be met and can only be met a certain way but as the game progresses more freedom and interpretation is given to the player to decide how to complete the objective. Basically if you see something and think it can be moved, more than likely it can. There are endless possibilities for a solution and all that is required is your imagination and determination. Once a level is complete thinking you have brought Bob's fear to an end, another begins. Bob's fear comes full circle and seems as though he may be in some sort of purgatory.
The overall objectives in each level are very simple however the objects are not the only thing that has crazy physics applied to them, so does Bob. Imagine you have had a long night of partying and may have drunk a little too much. Can barely stand up and walk in a straight line, right? That is exactly how Bob is, a drunk and near uncontrollable character with the superhuman strength to pick up almost anything he can get hids hands on. Seriously, when you try and make him walk in a straight line it makes you question if you may have just had a stroke. What's worse, when you are trying to interact with an object something as simple as flicking a switch on a door takes full concentration. Not only to just walk up to the switch but to use the correct button. Each arm is independent of each other, the left trigger for the left arm/hand and right trigger for the right arm/hand which totally makes sense but there is a massive delay in reaction and you have to be within a certain proximity of the object to properly grasp it. Once you FINALLY have a hold of something the other tricky part is figuring out the physics of that object and balancing not ounly your own controls but the response of the object itself while also holding on to the proper trigger to maintain a hold on it. The most frustrating experience for me was when I had to crank a wheel on a catapult to tighten the arm before releasing a rock into a wall. I had to stick out at arm and either grasp a spoke and turn it or put my arm between spokes and push the crank. But no, sometimes my arm would grab the catapult and move it or I would completely miss and have to let go of the trigger and start over. This may seem like a simple process but there is at least a second or two delay before Bob reacts to your controller input, stupid drunk. Another frustrating aspect of the game that seems to be a significant part of every level is climbing. Most games you just run up to a ladder or wall and press a single button to interact and watch an animation of your character climbing or at most you must press up on an analog stick. Not in Human: Fall Flat, you have to run with both of your arms held high, hope to jump high and far enough to reach a ledge, and while hold on to such ledge tilt your camera in such a way that you are essentially lifting Bob up on top of the ledge. When executing this it makes Bob feel like he weighs 500 pounds and is so slow. Sometimes both of your hands may not land on the ledge and guess what, you are stuck and might as well start over again. Time after time there were many foul words that came out of my mouth when just trying to reach the next ledge on a jumping puzzle to just fall and have to start over. Aha! The fear of falling, I get jokes. Overall the control mechanism is terrible and very difficult to master. Just when you thought you got the hang of how things work there will be another objective that makes you feel like you need to learn how to walk again.
It may seem as though you are playing Bob's dream but from my perspective it felt like I was experiencing a real-life nightmare. Each level felt like a grind and every time they just got larger and more intricate. Not too many games also defeat my spirit but Human: Fall Flat did just that. When talking about it with my coworkers they asked if there was co-op. There is however I wasn't fortunate enough to share the delights of this game with someone else. I can see though where it might be easier to share the load of frustration but also team together to complete certain puzzles. I however wouldn't submit any of my friends to such torture.
Final Rating: 50% - One thing is certain, they got the title right.