Human Fall Flat is a physics-based puzzler from No Brakes Games. The gamer controls Bob as he attempts to solve the puzzles that crowd his mysterious dreams, and controlling Bob proves to be quite a challenge. The developer hopes the crazy antics that can result from trying to get Bob to do what you wish will be the biggest part of the game's entertainment, but do they succeed?
Welcome to Bob's world.
If you've watched any of the trailers put out in the game's lead-up to release, youll be familiar with the story of poor Bob, who is plagued by dreams of falling. As you fall into the surreal world of dreams with him, you take control of him and help him solve the puzzles in dreamland. If, however, you haven't seen any of those videos then you'll have no idea about Bob, and this can make for the first unpleasantness in the game. When the game begins, there's no opening video/sequence to explain Bob's predicament; you're simply dropped into the first dream sequence, so you see this little marshmallow body dropping through space to land with a painful crunch. What's disturbing here is that Bob moves very much like a wobbly toddler, so parents like myself can find it horrifying to watch him sail through the air and crunch so often like a baby being dropped on concrete. Non-parents probably won't notice this.
This horror doesn't last long, however, because it doesn't take long to learn to hate Bob, ceasing to think of him as an unfortunate babe and more the rag doll from hell. The media for this game makes the point that Bob is not a superhero, that he can only do what a normal human can do, but this isn't really true. Most humans can jump higher than two inches off the ground. Most humans don't stick to anything they accidentally bump with their hands. Most humans can carry an item from Point A to Point B without having their arms twisted into knots. Bob doesn't act like a human; he acts like a bag of jello with legs, and controlling jello gets old pretty quickly.
Scattered throughout the game are remotes — small yellow and red boxes — that give precise instructions in a humorous way to help you learn to control Bob. Knowing how to control him doesn't make it easy or fun, though. The controls aren't difficult to manage, but Bob's reactions are frustrating. Climbing is a good example.
Lots of climbing is required.
Bob's hands are controlled by the left and right triggers. To climb, you first look up with the right stick then hold both triggers so that Bob raises his arms. You must walk (left stick) in this position to what you wish to climb, lay your hands on top then look down (right stick) to force the arms to push Bob upward. If you're climbing many structures in a row, you rinse and repeat. Keep in mind that Bob's hands will stick to anything they touch, so if you raise your arms too close to a wall then they'll stick. Then you have to drop your hands, back up, raise your arms, then reposition yourself again to climb.
The puzzles you work through become increasingly difficult as you work your way through the game's eight levels. The ultimate goal on each level is to reach the door to the next level. A nice variety of puzzles stands in your way, things as simple as dragging a box onto a button to open a door, to manipulating box cars, wrecking balls, and vehicles. The puzzles are interesting; that's not the issue. Again, the problem is Bob. Figuring out the puzzle and getting Bob to do what you want him to do to solve the problem is the issue. It's an exercise in frustration.
The game does do some things well and the game's clean art style suits the title. Most areas are filled with neutral shades and geometric shapes with bright splashes of primary colors thrown in as accents. You can choose to keep Bob's default Pillsbury dough boy look, or you can customize him with different outfits to add your own flair.
Dump those speakers.
The achievements in the game are not difficult. Achievements are earned for completing each level, for doing a speed run of the entire game, of accumulating jumps, kilometers traveled, climbed, ridden in a dumpster, etc. The remainder of the achievements are specific tasks, such as standing on the statue's head in the "Mansion" level, throwing the speakers out the window in "Mountain," or lighting up the lighthouse in "Water." With 47 total achievements, about half fall into the latter category. Once a level has been completed, it can be re-visited at any time, so it's easy to go back and pick them up once a level is complete. Keep in mind that if you start a new game at any time, all progress is erased, and you have to begin again. Like the puzzles, the achievements offer a nice variety of challenging and easy, and would make for a fairly easy completion were you not dealing with a jello man.
SummaryHuman Fall Flat is a physics-based puzzler with a pleasant sense of humor, a cute main character, nice puzzles, and clean, inviting environs, but all of these positives bite the dust when the basic mechanic of the game makes you gnash your teeth with frustration. Controlling Bob is like trying to get ooze to stand at attention. He flips and flops around until you'll jump off a ledge just to end the pain. The items he handles flip and flop around in the much the same way. Once you get the hang of the basic controls then you can get the job done, but it isn't fun and isn't that the whole point? It isn't Bob that falls flat here so much as the game itself.
- Cute little character
- Variety of puzzles
- Nice art and sense of humor
- Clunky controls
- Frustration even in simple tasks
- It's just not fun
EthicsThe reviewer spent five hours getting 18 of the game's 47 achievements, and restrained herself from throwing the controller through the television only by the cost of a new television. An Xbox One download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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