Human Fall Flat, at first glance, looks a little simple. You play as a featureless, rubber looking thing named Bob, who looks like the offspring of an illicit affair between the Pillsbury doughboy and one of the bouncy green creature things from Flubber. Don’t let this simple looking façade fool you though, as what lies behind the simple textures and bright primary colours is an intuitive physics puzzler that continually managed to surprise me with its variety of puzzles and scenarios that it threw my way.
The setup to Human Fall Flat is a simple one, that essentially boils down to an escape room puzzler – you start in one location and are tasked with working your way to another by solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles that are placed in your way. You control Bob as he wanders around in a drunken wobble with the left stick, and swing the camera about with the right one, but the ingenuity comes in the form of controlling each arm to grab things independently using the shoulder buttons – R2 the right hand and L2 the left (shocker).
By moving the camera about you can direct Bob’s focus so that he can pick up a particular item or pull a switch to set some machine in motion, or jump and grab at ledges before pulling himself up onto it by walking forwards, forcing Bob up like a baby climbing a step. This simple enough setup is one that is easily come to grips with (see what I did there?) but that is used so smartly in its execution that I was genuinely surprised at the variety of situations I found myself in.
The game starts you off easily enough, showing how Bob can grab objects, pushing them and pulling them hither and tither as you see fit, but the puzzles soon ramp up in difficulty with many that can be solved in a variety of ways. The game is designed in such a way that each puzzle often has a variety of solutions in which they can be solved, and half the joy is finding them as you prod and poke your way through each level, looking for shortcuts or exploits that the game actively encourages you to try to find.
The graphics are simple enough to look at but they do manage to add a certain amount of charm to proceedings, their simple coloured shapes used to create a variety of objects that can be interacted with. Bob himself is customisable if you are into that kind of thing, but I was happy enough to leave him in his porcelain like glory, and by the end of the game I did feel a measurable amount of affection towards my plain-looking avatar.
Each level can be taken as a stand alone puzzle, with the overall story (Bob navigating his dreamscape which is largely dominated by his fear of falling, apparently) not necessarily important to proceedings but merely as an excuse to navigate from one random locale to another, which allows the game to visit a variety of places ranging from a medieval castle to a power plant. What truly makes Human Fall Flat stand out is the truly impressive physics engine that binds it all together. Each puzzle utilises this to full effect, from simply pushing and pulling boxes to catapults that need to be cranked before they can be used, levers and switches that can be pulled, vehicles that can be driven – one level even contains a boat that can be rowed around by grabbing an oar with each hand and swinging the camera around smartly enough so that Bob is forced to row – hard to describe but beautiful to behold when you manage to pull it off. Each level seems to contain enough unique puzzles to keep the whole experience feeling fresh as you are funnelled from one scenario to another, and each puzzle manages to hit the mark, making you feel like a full-blown genius for having worked out what you had to do in the first place (and provided you don’t succumb to the devil’s knicker drawer that is YouTube on the trail of some handy hints – seriously, don’t do it as you will rob yourself the joy of solving the puzzles yourself).
I was truly impressed with the time I spent with Human Fall Flat, with my biggest complaint being that it is too short. Each level does tax the brain somewhat and on first attempt they take a little while to overcome, and I did feel a genuine sense of achievement when I managed to best them. Once you are used to the possibilities that the game creates, however, there are certain shortcuts that can be taken, if you look hard enough to find them. If you like puzzlers then that should definitely not put you off, and I have revisited each level a number of times in order to try to beat them in different ways, or even to earn some trophies that I missed on my first playthrough, and the game still manages to impress me.
Not since playing Portal for the first time have I been so taken with a puzzle game, with many solutions coming from a thought that often started along the lines of “I wonder what will happen if I do this,” only to be surprised to find that it actually worked the way I anticipated. If you enjoy games that test your guile and ability to think around a problem as much as your ability to think through it, Human Fall Flat is a must play.
Human Fall Flat PS4 Review
Human Fall Flat is a fantastic physics-based puzzle game that takes a simple concept and executes it perfectly, with a powerful physics engine hiding behind the simple looking façade. Pushing and pulling has never been so much fun.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
*Reviewed on a standard PS4