As the great philosopher of our time, David Brent, once said, “You’ve charmed me”. Human Fall Flat has done exactly that. The game may lack a touch of polish, but that never stopped shoes doing their job. Fall Flat has this amazing ability of being effortlessly casual, whilst still being pleasingly challenging.
So who are you? You are Bob, and your aim is to make your way through each area, ensuring you only fall flat at the right time. Bob is completely customisable, from skin colour to headwear, with a choice of preset outfits. It was not a facility I used, but it was nice to know that if I wanted to, I could.
Real world physics seem present in everything except Bob’s limbs. Bob’s wobbly ways hinder movement speed and replace them with a comical, almost ragdoll, gait.
From a mansion, train crash, construction yard and more, you will find puzzles full of breakables, levers and climbing challenges. (We’ll get back to the climbing later.) The puzzles will slowly teach you what can be broken by what, how far you can jump, and just how much your arms can grip on to. It’s a learning curve, but one that you should welcome.
Climbing can be difficult as it requires you to be a master of your DualShock. You must raise your arms above your head and quickly lower them as you make contact with the ledge. Execute it and you will satisfyingly elevate. Fail and you will fall limply, either in a heap on the floor or off the map. Do the latter, and you will respawn by falling flat at your last checkpoint. My advice is to understand that you will mess up often during the game. It will frustrate and motivate in equal measure.
The art style is similar to Gang Beasts. It is less colourful than that game though, with many tones of white and grey. This offers a minimalist feel which charms and can’t possibly offend.
Each stage starts off very tame, with a few simple presses of some wall mounted buttons and you’re home. They quickly descend into madness, with wrecking balls and smashed glass getting involved. These puzzles are so varied and feature a minimalist tutorial, and they become extremely fun and engaging.
The general idea is simple enough, but the control scheme and mechanics is where Human Fall Flat becomes a harder prospect. Bob’s entire body seems to represent the arm of Harry Potter after a medical visit from Professor Lockhart. (Kudos if you get that reference.) It could be argued that they were designed purely for humour, but I’d rebut that by saying there is nothing wrong with adding entertainment and difficulty.
The game only contains nine dreamlike, sky moated islands. They are each themed, giving the game a fresh look every time. The full-bodied trophy list adds replay value, as does the knowledge that, on the second playthrough, you will have mastered the controls. Well, at least be competent.
The music is calming and, when you’ve missed a jump for the thirtieth time, can be seen as an oasis in the desert of self-induced frustration. The sounds in general can be given no fault, as they are fantastically suitable with a soothing score. Admittedly, there are smatterings of narration that reminds me of The Witness. They are not needed and don’t really add much, so I believe the game would be marginally better without them. However, to say they are game-ruining, would not be true. In all honesty, I mention them only because I was forcing myself to find fault.
Many other reviewers have slated the game, but I see the faults they comment on as part of the charm. Namely, the controls and simple art style. The only thing I wish for is a co-op mode that replicates Portal, in that it includes challenges that can only be completed with two players. The current form simply allows another friend to get involved. This is certainly enjoyable, but now that I have a taste for Human Fall Flat, I want more.
Human Fall Flat is the most wonderfully charismatic puzzler I’ve played for a long time. It was more pleasurable than The Witness and far less frustrating. The only physics puzzler I’ve enjoyed more that I can recall would be Portal 2, which is of course in a league all of its own.