Human: Fall Flat

This week’s game is Human: Fall Flat. You play Bob, a drunk ragdoll trying to complete physics puzzles to find his way out of his floating dream environments. Bob starts with humble tasks like walking, climbing stairs, and putting boxes on buttons. He then moves on to greater things like climbing mountains, destroying dams, lighting coal power plants from the inside, and raiding an Aztec temple.

The game starts fun and becomes somewhat less so over time. The early levels have that Portal feel of directed activity. The puzzles are fairly simple, and it is mostly a matter of learning execution. As you go on, the puzzles have less direction, so your main guide is knowing that you want to get out, along with the metagame thoughts of “what does the designer want from me here?”

Playing is mostly fun. Bouncing around with no consequences is freeing. If Bob falls, he just crashes a few steps back. Toss around boxes, play with wires, ram things with boats. Bob is built like a toddler and has similar gross motor skills. This becomes a source of frustration at points, for example in the platformer/parkour level. “Drunk toddler parkour” probably streams well, but it can be frustrating when Bob reaches between his legs instead of straight forward, or he steps off a ledge when you turn to look around. If it happens a few times, that is part of the fun; when it happens repeatedly, you want to smack Bob’s physics engine.

As in my standard adventure game complaint, what you consider intuitive may not match the level designers. You may beat your head against a few walls, and it can be hard to tell whether you are doing the wrong thing or just having trouble executing the move with a drunk ragdoll. I know there are some puzzles I “solved” the wrong way, and a few I circumvented entirely. It made more sense to do X, and it turned out that X skipped a quarter of the level. At one point, I was having trouble with a puzzle, and I thought I would try to strafe-jump around the wall I was trying to get past. Yep, that worked, next puzzle. On two maps, I managed to get on top of the walls, which lets you run past almost everything, and the hard part is trying to figure out in what direction the exit is. I am not sure if I fulfilled or frustrated the game’s intent.

It is a short game, on the order of 5-10 hours based on how you approach the game. There is multiplayer now, so maybe I can try a little more with friends. Drunk Bob party!

: Zubon