Puzzle games come in many shapes and sizes; from the ever popular Portal to the browser days of Parking Maniac. Everywhere in between lie games that don’t really have one particular defining aspect other than the fact that you must solve a problem in-game. This always confused me; aren’t all games made so that the player has to solve a problem? Whether it be shooting a million aliens in the face or jumping on moving platforms, games always have a definitive problem that needs to be solved by the player. So what makes puzzle games different? Well, it’s the adventure in between those problems. It’s how you get from point A to point B and learning about how the things you’re solving all connect and diverge from each other. Human: Fall Flat may not be a mastermind at doing this perfectly, but it remained true to its genre throughout the whole experience.
A sprint from the start, NoBrakesGame’s Human: Fall Flat takes no time to explain its world or what you’re doing in it. Instead, it spits out philosophy along with its opening tutorial to set the mood. You’re a human, and quite frankly you move just like one. You walk your spaghetti-like body around multiple stages to guide things where they need to go. The first levels were all about buttons and the use of your hands. The second group of levels are all about dragging train cars. The next levels about elevators, but you get my point. It’s very obvious from the beginning that Human: Fall Flat is teaching you the many rules and tools of the game, so that later you can put all of these together to solve massive puzzles. The only problem: These puzzles take too long for what they are.
Negotiating in a three-dimensional space can be rough at times. Often slow moving characters and objects halt progress or complicate it in agonizing ways. Add the physics of our main character and all of a sudden the puzzles in Human: Fall Flat are so slow they often lag behind your quickness in understanding the puzzle. This creates a “I know what to do, I just have to do it” scenario, leaving you to mindlessly do menial tasks to get the job done. It’s not quick, it’s not precise, and when the aforementioned happens, you often get long stretches of time wasting in between the smart puzzle design. Part of this is due to the weighty shifts of our main character but also due to the fact that most objects feel extremely taxing. There’s no arguing the interest I had in the physics themselves, laughing every time my character fell from great heights or stumbled on obstructions in the way. But this stuff only entertained me for the first half of Human: Fall Flat, the other half made me considerably more impatient with the game’s means of solving each puzzle.
Human: Fall Flat was a game I really wanted to like. Its simple art design and humorously written narrator put a spin on the gameplay that made it have just enough personality to pull me in. That personality reaches through even the later parts of the game and at least made it easy to see what was waiting behind the next door. The witty remarks left by the narrator always matched what was going on in-game and gave me something to think about while I was moving train cars and pressing buttons. Meanwhile, different fantasy-like environments inspired me to keep moving on to the next areas. It wasn’t exploration, no where near it, but seeing the different worlds in Human: Fall Flat left me in a dream-like trance as those menial tasks kept me busy. It was beautiful and even more convenient than ever on the Switch (of course). Popping into the world to solve a puzzle wasn’t too hard to do in the middle of a line or on a car ride. While it could’ve worked better with shorter, more bitesized puzzles, the game is home on the Switch.
Other than these main points, Human: Fall Flat doesn’t really do anything too extravagant. Apart from the physics of our character (which in and of themselves aren’t completely fresh either), it actually has no innovation for games in general or the puzzle genre specifically. It does its job; it makes the player knowledgeable in its many nuances before turning them loose to a myriad of puzzles based on those nuances. It makes for a decent ride into another world, which can often have you doing some chores to end up where it wants you to end up: the end of the game. It all adds to a decent, unprovocative, quick puzzle game that doesn’t really do anything aside from making you solve puzzles at a slow pace. Its art is even noticeably mediocre. There are points of interest, sure, but the package as a whole never really inspired some part of me that other puzzle games haven’t before. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend Human: Fall Flat unless you’re really into puzzle games and really want a new one.
Publisher: Curve Digital
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 7th December 2017