By: Matthew Striplen
Everyone loves a good puzzle, but in Human Fall Flat, the hardest one of all is just getting from Point A to Point B without falling over yourself. Get ready to waddle, flop and stumble your way across the world… only to tumble helplessly off a cliff.
Imagine being a drunken astronaut on an ice rink. Now you know exactly what it’s like to control your “human” in this game. Games like these create their interest and challenge by purposefully implementing a bizarre control scheme. The human flops around the world like a wet noodle, and appropriately falls flat on his face whenever dropped from a great height.
In addition, the player controls each arm independently with the left and right mouse buttons. Fumbling around like this is very awkward, but it can also look pretty funny. Like them or not, the developers achieved exactly what they set out to create.
Human Fall Flat takes a very minimalist approach to both the visual and audio presentation. Almost everything in the environment is completely untextured, which can sometimes make the world feel a little empty. This also includes the human, but with one major difference. The player can customize their character with a painting editor or take a photo with your webcam, which can lead to plenty of silliness.
There isn’t much music in Human Fall Flat, but the few tunes that are present are definitely good. The silence again makes the game feel a bit cold and empty, though, so more music or sound effects would have been nice.
Human Fall Flat has a lot in common with games like I am Bread and Octodad, which means that navigating and mastering the strange controls are the main draws to the game. Like these other titles, this game is also a puzzle-platformer.
Most of the tasks that the player must solve are simple, in theory. In practice, not so much, considering human’s arms and legs constantly flail about. Even actions that would normally be very simple, like climbing a ledge, become a difficult, multi-input ordeal.
To illustrate, the player must first raise both arms over their head by aiming the camera up. Then they must approach the wall and the arms will automatically stick to the first thing with which they come into contact. The player then aims the camera down, which pulls the human up the ledge, and then press forward to have your legs push you to safety. However, if you release your arms too early or late, you may end up back where you started.
Each area has a different theme, such as a garden, a factory and a train yard. The differences in environment are very welcome and add some much needed variety to the puzzles.
Due to the simplicity of the puzzles and the high degree of difficulty in performing any action, many will get frustrated. Despite the relative brief amount of time it takes to complete the game, I had to break up play sessions into short chunks to avoid getting burned out or throwing my computer out the window. If you’re able to laugh at your mistakes and the absurdity of your character, more power to you, but most may find the humor short lived.
Like many of these purposefully poor controlling games, it’s pretty easy to get the gist of the experience just by watching. In fact, I might actually recommend watching your favorite Let’s Play YouTuber complete the game, just to save you the frustration of falling off a ledge for the thousandth time.
That being said, the local multiplayer can help lighten the mood a bit. The multiplayer option can only be used with an additional gamepad, which is unfortunate since playing with friends ends up being much more enjoyable than the single-player experience.
Human Fall Flat is a quirky little puzzler with even weirder controls. The character editor adds plenty of potential silliness, but the best way to enjoy this is either with a friend, or by watching someone else, as the humor and craziness wear off much faster when actually playing the game.