“I hate this tiny drunken baby-man” was pretty much the only sentence I uttered while playing this game – my flatmate in hysterics as she watched me play. It’s an infuriating, physics based title that gives the player control of a human avatar who seems to have been hitting the bottle a little too hard. The idea is to take your little guy from the start of the game to the end, by only controlling his jumping and using the shoulder buttons of the Switch to represent each hand, which grip objects like the sticky feet of a spider. I hate this game. But, I love it in equal amounts.
Human Fall Flat starts out with very simple instructions; get to the end of an area. It tells you how to jump, how to grip items and then let’s you go and play with the environments, while allowing you complete freedom. I laughed when I first nudged the left analogue stick to observe this faceless being stagger forwards. It was with humour that I first levered myself up onto a ledge by gripping the edge and tilting the camera down so that this odd little dude pulled himself up. I stopped laughing when I had to carry blocks around and stack them up or row a boat using odd combinations of stick wiggling and camera wrangling.
I gasped as my odd approach to exiting a level worked – a locked door was in front of me and I had no clue how to open it. Instead, I climbed the surrounding walls and launched myself over the door which left me successful. This was after I smashed glass platforms with blocks, balanced on a see-saw and swung from a monkey bar to move towards my goal.
This game is not brilliant because of the physics, although they are wonderfully bonkers. It’s brilliant because of moments. At one point, I was faced with a room; barred window, staircase leading to a gap across which was a door to my freedom. All I had was a long pole with a point at one end. It was too short for the gap and kept falling down. I tried wielding it in a pole-vault stance and leaping for glory only to end up falling flat on my face, pardon the pun. It was only then that I became frustrated and decided that I’d shove the pole between the bars of the window in an attempt to bend them and break out. It worked. I smiled, laughed and was happy.
Later in the game I was faced with a brick wall, a trebuchet and a pile of rocks… sounds like a simple solution was already there. But, it didn’t seem that fun to launch rocks when I could launch myself and watch as this almost toddler flailed through the air and skimmed the wall which hindered my progress.
It can be a very difficult game to enjoy as you’re tasked with intriguing puzzles, but they always give way to the joy that comes from solving them and progressing further into the seemingly sprawling world. It can feel a little repetitive at times because of both endless retrying of sections and because of similar puzzle elements. However, with each new area there’s something new to tackle; moving conveyor belts, battery boxes that power doors and even driving dump trucks to ship coal to the furnaces of a power plant.
The only constant is that funny little person at the centre of the screen who, despite best efforts, continues to stagger and wobble, causing odd ripples of laughter which override any real frustrations. It’s a subtle, contemplative game at times. The backing soundtrack is peaceful, which suits the toy-box style of environment. The graphics are sharp, twee and feature just enough detail to establish a narrative, but little enough to let your imagination fill in the blanks.
My time with the game was lengthy and I can’t quite decide if that’s because it’s a long game, because I struggled in sections or if it was just because the route I took was scenic. Regardless, I loved my time with the tiny drunken human… the bastard.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Reviewed/Available – Switch (all of them!)
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