A fun twist of Gang Beasts, puzzles and platforming
Though Christmas may have passed, the holiday sales are yet in full swing. And if one is looking for a nice discount, the best are typically found with the indie titles. If one is looking for a good, cheap title on Steam, Human Fall Flat is a recent title that has my recommendation. It also has ports for PS4 and Xbox One, and just this month debuted on the Switch as well.
Human Fall Flat’s strong suit is its cooperative play. It’s a physics-based puzzler that supports single-person play, but it finds the best realization of its zany worlds in multiplayer. Like the gameplay itself, this can be achieved in different means, with local split screen or eight-player online.
The premise of each stage is this: Controlling what the game describes as “a normal human with no superpowers”, the player is literally airdropped into a dreamscape they must then reach the exit of. There are multiple ways to reach this goal and there are all sorts of contraptions, vehicles and objects to assist in this end. Or just mess around with, if that’s more your thing.
My own personal favorite was the dump truck present in one of the final levels. There were three furnaces that needed fuel and our solution was to fill them with coal. This required driving the dump truck across a narrow, winding road through open space to the top of a mountainous area. Entering the mine, we then filled the truck with coal, taking it back down the perilous road.
The controls of Human Fall Flat are such that even driving a dump truck can be a difficult—and hilarious—task. Aside from the ability to jump, the character’s main tool is the ability to grab and pick up things. This functions in a way similar to Gang Beasts, with each arm acting independently and being used to grab and hold on to things. Human Fall Flat has its own strange twist, however, with actions being influenced by a directional input.
To climb, one grabs a ledge and then looks down, prompting the character to pull himself up. To lift something, one looks up instead. Picking this up can be a little tricky at first, but this is part of the fun of it. If it was easy, one wouldn’t run into funny situations losing control of a speedboat, or obtain that sense of accomplishment when one manages to toss their helpless friend. By the end of the game, I was feeling fairly comfortable with the system.
The main problem I have with the game is how short it is. The base game only includes eight levels, environments that shouldn’t take a focused group of players any longer than twenty minutes to traverse. Human Fall Flat relies upon distraction for most of its substance, the instinctive pull of its players towards messing around.
I was surprised at times by the sheer size of the dreamscapes. One of my favorites included a giant castle, a medieval town, a river and a mountainous area all in one. The large environment took some time to traverse, but I found most of my time spent on tools along the way. A catapult my brother and I used to launch many things (including ourselves) and there were hidden towers we sought and explored.
The greatest part of Human Fall Flat is its no-limits gameplay. Within the system, any solution is both allowed and encouraged. In the case of some later puzzles, my brother and I found (possibly more complicated) means of getting around them. The grappling system is fantastic, and one of the final puzzles we surpassed by devising a way for one player to climb over another, hanging from a wall. The lack of restriction feels great in a game, especially when so many other titles today are quick to impose chafing limits.
Human Fall Flat has seen some updates since its release. An Aztec level was added in an update and it includes traps, rolling boulders and swinging pendulums to avoid. While most of the game’s puzzles aren’t too hard to figure out, I was actually a stumped by this level at times. With the holiday season, Human Fall Flat also released a Christmas multiplayer lobby. These lobbies are themselves more like sandboxes, but they do include puzzles to be solved.
Human Fall Flat includes skins for customization and coloring, and new ones can be unlocked from the multiplayer lobbies. Let’s just say they can be pretty weird.
Overall Score: 8.4 (84%)
Summary: Human Fall Flat is a wonderful multiplayer game. It’s recommended more for the experience than the challenge, and it’s best with a playful group of friends. Find someone who likes to explore and doesn’t mind being run over by freighters and boulders.
- Awesome multiplayer experience
- Huge environments with lots of exploration
- Multiplayer lobbies add to split-screen content
- Many fun vehicles, contraptions and tools
- Great, unique control system
- Encourages creative solutions and play
- Don’t play to speedrun; not a game for the impatient
- Could use some more levels, though meant to be replayed
- Steam version prone to some glitches, namely getting stuck in things