Physics – a strange and complex science.
That’s probably why my attention was sent elsewhere back in my school days. The first physics lesson I truly remember paying attention to was the one I received in primary school – the lesson on gravity, one which I picked up on quickly after it was applied to my carefree attitude that one time I was hanging upside down on the monkey bars in the playground. Since that point, I’ve paid slightly closer attention to the laws of physics.
So much so in fact, that when I heard the next puzzler coming to Xbox One was to be a physics based puzzler. I got a little excited. I know it’s not going to be another of those mindbogglingly difficult experiences that requires the IQ of Einstein to enjoy, but rather one that requires some common sense and a bit of luck. Human: Fall Flat is that latest title, but will it live up to my easy expectations, or will it turn out to be another let down in 2017’s puzzler genre?
Let me tell you about Bob. Bob is the character you take control of in Human: Fall Flat. Bob is a human, a simple, albeit gooey-looking, human. Whether that’s from too many nights of beer and pizza we’ll never know, but if you’re expecting a miracle man, don’t. He’s no hero, he has no superpowers, he’s just your regular, every-day, kind of gooey-looking guy, who’s also a builder.
Your goal is to guide Bob through his dreams – dreams filled with puzzles, dangers, and surprises. Bob’s dreams are built on his daily experiences and hopes, and for the most part they are simplistic every-day things.
The challenge in Human: Fall Flat doesn’t essentially come from the puzzles provided throughout the game. After all, with enough thought, most of the puzzles are rather easy when compared to other titles in the genre. The challenge here is just how you navigate the puzzles. As I mentioned before, you control Bob, but this is no easy task as you don’t just control Bob, but also his individual limbs. To get things done, you will need to master control of each of Bob’s hilariously awkward limbs and put them to work completing tasks such as pulling, pushing, climbing, grabbing, moving and much more. Whilst this may not sound like the most challenging of things to achieve, anyone who has had the experience of playing through the popular indie hit Octodad will understand just how challenging being in control of more than just simple movement can be.
Early levels aren’t too pressing, keeping things simple with a few levers to pull and some boxes to push to different locations in order to complete the puzzle and unlock the next area. Getting to the next area gives a nice nod to the title as you simply fall through the sky to each level, landing in whatever crumpled heap your body decides to fall in, making for some amusing crash landings. As with other puzzlers though, things begin to ramp up in difficulty quite quickly thereafter. Whilst you’ll still need to simply reach the end of each level by navigating various buttons, levers and obstacles, later levels require you to mix the use of various objects together. For example, to zipline down to my next area in one level I was required to hold a metal pole with a hook on top, place it onto the zipline and then slide down. In a game in which holding various different objects can prove challenging, this was a puzzle all in itself. And if you think that’s hard, wait until you try to climb whilst holding objects. The mere climbing alone is a challenge in which you need to jump and lift both arms perfectly. Something I failed to do many times.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all quite as wondrous as it seems, as even though the gameplay retains the classic and humorous touch from start to finish, some of the levels have objects included that don’t really present a reason to be there. Many you will find can be picked up, but with some proving useless when it comes to that level’s puzzle, it makes you wonder why the developers didn’t simply put the time creating them into making each of the stages a little more colourful, as most of the world is bright white.
Human: Fall Flat isn’t just a single player game either. Those of you who have a friend close by can enjoy the delights of Human: Fall Flat with some local co-op multiplayer, and playing this game in co-op may just be some of the most fun you will ever have.
The basic premise is the same. In fact, the only difference is that it throws you and a friend in, which makes for absolute carnage when you both try to complete tasks together. My time with the game found me stuck to my co-op partner and being dragged through levels, rather than putting up with the usual wobble that Bob does as he wiggles to each new area.
Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for my prior knowledge of there even being a co-op mode available, I could very well have played the entire game without knowing. One exceptionally poor design choice was to leave any form of co-op menu out of the game, or indeed any instructions on how to get to activate it. Instead the only way of finding co-op is to turn on a second controller and press A. This is a real shame as co-op is by far the best way to play this awesome puzzler, and having such a great feature seemingly hidden away doesn’t really make much sense at all.
Overall and Human: Fall Flat may not have much in the way of any story or real purpose, other than simple puzzle solving, but the gameplay does offer hours of fun and hilarious moments in which you will sit in awe at just how well the physics mechanics work. Whilst it may not have much in the way of replay value, the creative ways in which you choose to make your way to the end bring enough variation to keep things interesting throughout.
Human: Fall Flat is certainly one of the better puzzlers to arrive on console and though it’s a real shame to see a lack of attention being shown to the co-op offering, that mode in itself may just be some of the best local multiplayer fun available on Xbox One.