More Humans, More Mayhem: Hilarious Multiplayer, the game's breakout mode has players laughing out loud. Need a hand getting that boulder on to a catapult, or need someone to break that wall? Online multiplayer for up to 8 players transforms the way Human: Fall Flat is played
Let's all take a moment to appreciate the complexity of our own bodies. From the miles upon miles of our nervous systems to the billions of complex electrical synapses, our brains compute daily. From our ability to recognize a staggeringly uncountable amount of details with our eyes, to the fact that we are the only species in the known universe with enough self-awareness and thirst for knowledge to discover such things about ourselves. Amazing isn’t it?
Now let us take a second moment to reflect on how near impossible our lives would be if we had evolved in a way that stripped us of some of our most relied upon abilities. For example: what if we had no fingers to grip and manoeuvre objects in our hands? What if our spine had developed to be flexible and malleable instead of strong and sturdy? What if our first reaction is to process problem-solving in abstract thought instead of logical thought? Thankfully I can answer these awfully specific questions with the help of Human Fall Flat. The simple answer? I prefer my imperfect body the way it is now thank you.
Stumbling around in this minimalistic world, and getting your sticky stubs all over it, gives you a game experience like no other. Is this a welcome take on the almost buried puzzle platforming genre? Or does it exceed its own vision to its own detriment? Let us squash our adhesive hands together and frolic down this road of discovery together.
What IS Human Fall Flat?
The answer to this question is as simple as it is complicated. Human Fall Flat is not simply a game. It is a journey, an experience, something that simply has no right being as entertaining as it is! This game is as abstract as it is plain. It is a game that manages to take the absolute mundane and warp it into an uphill battle of skill and ingenuity. And it will frustrate you and make you laugh all at the same time. This is intensified tenfold when playing it with your friends, good old couch co-op style or even online.
Human Fall Flat is the game equivalent of trying to unlock your front door for ten minutes after too many shots at the local; standing up too fast after being sat on the toilet for far too long (you should have really curbed that Candy Crush addiction by now, just saying); and having brain freeze after your teacher asks you a question to snap you out of staring into space. All at the same time. Your legs are unresponsive, your motor skills are reduced to motor luck and your brain turns to mush.
The game is a harmonious blend of deliberately awkward platforming, ridiculous puzzle-solving and simplistic design that manages to equal parts relax you in its ambience and drive you bonkers with its puzzles.
Now if I am honest, I have never once in my entire life, needed to think about getting past a padlock, or a gate, or a bridge. In this game, you will be solving a menagerie of puzzles that nobody in their right mind has ever considered a puzzle before. But that is truly where this game shines. The puzzles themselves are often woven into the geometry and architecture of the levels themselves. The challenges themselves can be as effortless as ‘put this box on this pressure plate’.
But with the clunky controls and nature of the game, this effortless little task will often end up being far more comical than you first imagine. We all know how to open a gate or cross a bridge, but I am willing to bet none of us have used a box, a stick, a catapult, or windmill to do so. You need to throw all your everyday knowledge out the window (or climb through it) to progress through the levels in this game.
‘Have a chasm to cross? No problem! Here’s a stick’ is the kind of head-scratching situations you will be presented with. All whilst the developer rolls around in pure belly gripping laughter watching you fall flat on your face time and time again.
Each level has a distinct but simple theme behind it. One is a castle with a windmill. One is mostly water-based. Finally, one is a demolition site. Yawn. All of these themes sound boring and lazy on the surface, but each level offers it’s own little adventure and secrets for those who don’t take the game seriously. Go and explore, see if you can climb up that building, see if there is an alternative path to take. The game presents you with many options and gives you the freedom to enjoy the levels on your own terms. And it feels great when you pop a trophy or achievement just from goofing around. This reaffirms that the game genuinely wants you to just have fun with what it gives you.
Human Fall Flat takes platforming and elevates it to a comedic level. There is a healthy amount of levels to progress through, each with their own unique puzzles to solve (or bypass completely). The game often presents you with little ways in which to ‘cheat’ or tricks you into thinking your cheating, only to find you have been baited into a wild goose chase.
When you start the game, you have the option to customize your character with a variety of different outfits and heads. This adds massively to the game and makes characters easily distinguishable when playing with others and lets you add a bit of personality to the otherwise palette-less game. My favourite set up is the skeleton skin on a pirate with a peg leg, wearing a rubber duck dinky. Because who doesn’t love pirates? Or rubber duckies?
Simply controlling this game can be a puzzle at times. L2 controls your left arm and sticks it to anything and everything you point your stub towards, whilst R2 does the same for your right arm. Of course, this will be the nearest alternative on Xbox and Switch. Great control of both and the camera on the top is needed to master climbing. For a game that offers no other controls besides a jump button (and a ragdoll button for comic moments), it is deceptively deep and frustrating and simple and annoying and easy and aggravating and urgh! Why won’t you just grab this damn stick properly?!
It is clear that Tomas Sakalauskas (the one-man band behind this game) had a lot of fun designing this game. The fun and mystery of the game is present throughout, and the shock factor of ‘is that really how to solve this puzzle’ crops up at an appropriate pace. In each level, there is usually one or two activities that take you out of the puzzle-solving headspace for a while and gives you something fun and silly to play around with. The game has a charming, childish glee to it that you simply cannot help but smile too.
Even after you get so worked up and frustrated with the game, you take a step back and realise you are getting worked up trying to unbeach a speedboat with nothing but sticky fingers and jumping maniacally towards the ocean. Taking the game seriously is literally the only way you will end up not enjoying your time with Human Fall Flat.
The game does an excellent job at making the monotonous both a headache and a joy. Given that there are not dozens of levels, I have tried to refrain from mentioning specific puzzles or late-game level designs to avoid spoilers. But there are plenty of abstract puzzles and situations to solve, getting progressively harder throughout. This makes the fun of the game diminish over time however and the annoyance of it all slowly inflate. There is one simple solution to this, however…
C.S Lewis clearly played this game in early access as ‘Two minds are better than one’ never applied more accurately to anything else ever, in all of history, period.
This game is fun if you are playing it casually on your own, but the best way to experience this game in my opinion, is with a good friend, sharing a TV and just accepting the madness together. I have hardly laughed as much as when my friend ran straight to the top of the lighthouse, and I could not, for the sake of me, simply walk up the spiral staircase to join him. Admittedly the top half is in complete darkness, but the number of times I fell back to the bottom was almost unbearable. My point being, if I were doing it solo, the console would have been ripped from the stand and launched through the window in a fit of pure rage. But playing with a friend alleviated the frustration and turned the same situation into one of pure comical genius.
Is This Game for You?
This is a tricky question to answer. This game boils down to a platforming puzzle game. If you are the kind of person that gets a thrill upon completing sudoku: then yes absolutely give this game a try solo. If you are the kind of person who likes crosswords, but often asks others what they think the answers are: then yes, absolutely give this a game a try co-op. Also, if you are the kind of person that doesn’t even realise there are puzzle books next to your monthly magazine: then yes, absolutely give this game a try in multiplayer and have chaotic fun with a group of others. If you are the kind of person who does not enjoy games: then no, why are you even reading this review?
There's not much to Human Fall Flat. It is simple, minimalistic, does not take itself seriously and it does not try to be something it is not. The game knows what it wants to be and is delivered in a pure and clean fashion. It is fun, engaging, frustrating and definitely one to pull out when you have some friends over.
I love puzzles, I love games, I love Human Fall Flat. All in all, this game is a charming masterpiece of idyllic chaos. Give it a try. And another try. One more try. Try again. You will figure it out eventually.