Reviews// Human Fall Flat

Posted 15 Dec 2017 10:41 by
Take one look at Human Fall Flat and you'll not only understand what it is, but you'll have a pretty good idea about whether you'll like it or not.

It has the look of a classic Steam game that your mate forces you to sit and play while he sits grinning from ear to ear, staring at your face intensely while he questions why you're not overjoyed with the whole experience.

He tries to give you a nudge down the giggle slide into Good Game Town with a forced chuckle but the pressure of trying to be polite coupled with the overriding pain of not being in the mood leaves you focusing on anything but what's happening on the screen in front of you. You put down the pad, and say "Yeah that's great, fancy a game of PES?"

It think it's largely due to the stripped down visuals. You'll know instantly that this isn't a big budget release. You'll know that it was made by a couple of developers who had an idea but not the team or trucks full of cash to fully pull it off. You adjust your expectations accordingly and hope that there's still a bright spark laying somewhere in the game to make it worth your time.

It's great when an indie title lands. For some reason connecting with a lower budget game can be more powerful than it is for a AAA one, despite the lack of shine and gloss that costs millions to achieve. You start to root for the little guy, recommend it more. You become a fan of what it represents more than the game itself.

Human Fall Flat has something about it. Not a spark as such but a warm glow. It's a physics-based puzzle game on paper but slapstick comedy is always at the heart of it.

You control a floppy podgy human as it fumbles around environments that flow in the sky, solving basic puzzles by gripping on to things. You control each hand with the trigger buttons and move them up and down with the right stick in order to lift, push and pull objects and obstacles in order to continue along a linear path.

The laughs come from its Mount Your Friends- and Octodad-style mishaps along the way. You'll know what you need to do to progress the moment you walk into a puzzle room, but achieving that is a whole other matter. Simply jumping from one platform to the next can lead to your little dude dangling over an infinite drop by one hand if your timing is out, trying to carry large object and position them correctly can be even funnier.

The whole game settles into this constant flow of asking you to do stuff that it knows you'll struggle to achieve. From jumping in wheely bins and riding them down a ramp to controlling a catapult and hurling rocks at a breakable wall. The levels seem to be more design to mess with you than they are to challenge your puzzle-solving skills.

Because of this though, sometimes everything can fall apart. As the game increases the challenge of controlling the main character's actions the game's progression slows down. Soon enough the laughter is broken up with periods of intense frustration as you fall to your doom landing back at the previous checkpoint.

In truth, it's part of the appeal. When you do get stuck the satisfaction when everything goes right intensifies but the longer you play the more this happens and soon enough I was more interested in just messing about with the physics than focusing on what I was meant to be doing.

The jewel in Human Fall Flat's crown sits with its co-op mode. If you found one guy staggering around and clinging on to things funny then that's multiplied with a second chucked in. My co-op partner was my three-year-old son. Taking a break from our usual jaunt across the kingdoms of Mario Odyssey, I stuck this on to see how he'd react to it. Before long with were both laughing as we watched each other's side of the screen and although we weren't actually getting anywhere in the game it was an enjoyable experience and one that we've returned to several times since.

With this being just as fun to watch people play as it is to control yourself it's no wonder that this was a hit on Twitch when it was originally released on Steam back in July 2016. It's the sort of game that you'd think would benefit with a port to the Switch but in truth it's doesn't fit with the console as well as other indie ports on the e-shop.

The main issue is down with how the game controls. The majority of you play time will be spent holding down both the ZL and ZR buttons, which in handheld mode can be pretty painful. There's also a touch of slowdown here and there that's a tad unforgivable considering how basic everything looks.

The biggest disappointment is that co-op isn't compatible with single joy cons. You can't just break each side of the console off and enjoy a quick blast with a mate. It's understandable considering that both sticks are essential to play, but when a game like this is brought to the switch but lacks taking advantage of anything the console has to offer, it's a bit of a let down.

A strange one then, and a game that won't appeal to everyone. There's enough here to make a purchase worthwhile but not enough to have you telling all your mates that they're missing out by not playing it, and certainly if you're looking for indie games that are boosted by what this
great console has to offer there are far better games to get than this.

Pros:
+ Funny
+ Funnier in Co-op

Cons:
- Frustrating at times

SPOnG Score: 6/10

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