Human: Fall Flat Review
The story goes as follows. You play as a character named Bob (and also his friend in co-op) who happens to randomly drop into many fantasy-like worlds, with the catch of still being under the rules of “real-world physics.” In this adventure, you’ll be going from world to world and solving puzzles with the help and hindrance of the physics and movement, and falling flat through each exit to continue onward.
At the beginning of the game, the narrator also goes on a talk on human ambition and how humans will do instinctive things such as push every button they see and go through every doorway in their path. So there is possibly even a humorous overall message about how we humans act as well, but this is mostly only touched on at the beginning of the game.
The gameplay of Human: Fall Flat mostly revolves around the many silly physics and mechanics that are in the game. To control Bob, you use the left control stick, and to move the camera plus his body and arms around, you use the right control stick while holding out either ZL, ZR, or both depending on which ones you want to stick out and control. While holding out his arms, Bob can grab pretty much every single object he comes across. To bend down, you can also aim the camera down and to reach high you can turn the camera upwards. You also have a small jump you can use as well as a “play dead” ability which lets you completely lose control for a second and fall flat on your face. Bob is a feeble and flimsy character and can be very hard to work with at times. Walking around, for example, is an intriguing task in this game only due to the wonkiness of the physics and movement. The ragdoll-like Bob can make things hard by being so wobbly and falling over in situations where you don’t want him to. With the challenge of these game mechanics, you’ll be climbing over and moving many objects as you adventure through levels and solve many puzzles.
As Human: Fall Flat is one of those games which use wonky physics as an in-game mechanic, this will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether this game is for you or not. Usually, this sort of style can make or break a game, but I thought these physics were implemented just right and created a fascinating and fun experience that wasn’t too frustrating. You may be turned off by them at first, but later on, you’ll realize the real fun of them. Once you begin to master Bob and his movement, you can relate to the game more instead of being frustrated by the hindrances, and also take in the beauty and genius of the level design and puzzles to get into the flow of taking on a world’s challenges. Every puzzle solved is more satisfying just because you worked with it under the circumstances of these sometimes harsh physics.
The levels in this game range from incredibly straightforward and easy to long and complicated. The first levels are mostly tutorial levels and only have minor challenges and underlying themes to help you adjust to the game and learn it well, but the later levels are more challenging and rely on how good you’ve gotten at controlling Bob. These harder levels usually also have much broader themes like a castle and medieval village or a level filled with a vast sea of water and islands. How these stages are typically structured is there will be multiple areas or rooms which you need to solve a puzzle to continue to a new one, which also grants you a checkpoint. Eventually, you’ll find an exit sign which brings you to the ending of a stage. Some of these worlds even have several pathways that you can explore which was a great inclusion that made replaying levels worthwhile, but this could also be overwhelming at times in the more expansive stages where you don’t exactly know which route to take. The levels overall were done well and had a unique contrast between them all, and there was a lot to go back to in most worlds, mostly just to re-experience their fun and ideas.
The puzzles in this game mostly revolve around you using objects/mechanics to your advantage and doing things like pushing a train to the side or finding something to put on a button to open a door. There were many exciting puzzles in this game that used the silly pushing mechanics or swinging mechanics or just straight-up movement and weight experimentation. Some of the level mechanics that I enjoyed the most included the ability to bend bars with a stick, using a catapult, swinging across chasms, using a boulder to make rock bridges, and breaking objects like glass and locks. Solving puzzles in this game is extremely rewarding and satisfying and a captivating part of the entire experience this game delivers.
In the levels, you can also find videotapes which give you tips when you’re stuck or give you an in-depth tutorial on specific controls and techniques at the start of the game. These will be lying around in levels with a vital mechanic to teach you, or they will spawn in after you are stuck on a particular puzzle for a while to give you a tip on how to progress. Some of the techniques they’ll teach are climbing, looking up/down, and grabbing. The technique videos save to the menu after viewing them so in a way these are your only collectibles if you can call them that. The videos were cool little-hidden aspects of levels and were interesting and helpful to listen to while being funny.
One of the most significant selling points of the game, in my opinion, is the two-player local co-op. You can play the entire game with a friend, and this ended up being my favorite way to experience this game. The game is overall more fun and less challenging as a result of this mode. How this style of play impacts the gameplay is now with an additional player, there are many new possibilities on how you play through the stages and solve puzzles, and you can even do things like split up or just have a blast messing with mechanics. The singleplayer is also a pretty good time, but if you can, I highly recommend you invite someone over for this one, or better yet, bring your Switch to them, for an overall more enjoyable experience. Even online multiplayer has been teased for console versions of this game which would also be a very welcome addition to a later update.
How the game does loading is very genius. As Bob is falling into a level, the game will be loading the stage in the background at the same time. Very cool touch and I thought this was a smart idea. As for load times, these were very quick and shocked me how fast I could go from the main menu to a level. Even when you beat a level you’ll just fall for a few seconds and boom, all of a sudden it’s time to get going again. I thought this was pure genius and the fast loading times compliment that. Even dying in this game directly plops Bob out of the sky immediately back into action which is quite hilarious plus fits the theme of this game entirely.
At any time, you can go to the main menu and customize Bob to your liking in the Customize section. This character customizer was limited but regardless there is a lot of fun to be had with it, and you can do a decent amount of styling to Bob. I created some characters such as the Mario Bros. which I thought would be fitting for this Nintendo release, and also a few other misc characters which were entertaining to make. You can pick from a list of different pieces of headwear and bodywear and even customize the colors of a skin/costume. It isn’t the most open customizer but the option to customize at all is a welcome one, and it had just the right amount of accessibility to have some decent fun with it, though quite limited.
The performance of this game was overall excellent. It looked crisp and ran smoothly all around in both modes of play, and there were no noticeable bugs to be found other than maybe how the water would clip through boats or other such minor things. The only real issue I noticed was that the camera in this game could be hard to work with at times, especially in more enclosed areas and even more so in split-screen, but this was mostly fine despite some annoying close-ups that make it hard to see now and then.
The gameplay of Human: Fall Flat was overall an enticing blend of silly physics and clever puzzles, and it shaped up to be a unique type of world based adventure with many details and distractions.
Graphics and audio
The sound design in Human: Fall Flat was an excellent match for the game. The sound effects seem as they should be and are pretty high quality. Hearing Bob smack into the ground at the start of a level couldn’t have been better without the perfect smack sound to accompany it. Other sounds like breaking some glass and walking around work well too, and there isn’t much to complain about in this section.
As for the music, it was humorously epic and complimented the lighthearted nature of everything. The songs were mostly seriously toned ones who usually had massive buildups which were quite funny in some situations. I’m glad they decided to go with this epic sort of approach for such a silly game, and it shaped the game further into a little goofy puzzle experience.
The graphics for this game are a unique minimalistic style that complimented the sort of dreamy feel of everything. It can look quite bland, especially in the early levels, but this is a design choice, and it blends with everything beautifully. The lighting effects and such also made the game look quite polished despite the minimal design. Most levels may seem quite barren and bland, but I see this as a visual style that matches the theme of the game very well. The characters may also be pretty bare, even in customization, but it isn’t a problem, and it matches the idea of the game as well although I wish there was at least some more depth to the character customization.
Overall, Human: Fall Flat is quite a fun, lighthearted adventure and is an excellent addition to the Switch lineup. From the smart level design and satisfying puzzles to the dreamy visuals and enjoyable soundtrack, this game is an experience like no other. It may be a strange one and one that’s out of the norm but if you are looking for something a little light and unique for a change, definitely give this one a try. All of the content and the especially fun co-op mode make this a worthwhile adventure and if you and a friend need something fun to play that is yet another good excuse to pick this game up.
Despite its couple of problems like camera control, overly emptiness, and a limited character customizer, Human is still a phenomenal pickup and play the game on the Nintendo Switch and is perfect for a laugh with your friends. The mechanics may be a bother at first, but once you adjust and abuse the physics, you’re in for a fun ride.