Human Fall Flat is a game that need no introduction, if you haven’t watched some of the countless videos on YouTube from content creators and outlets alike, chances are you’ve at least heard of it. Developed by No Bakes Games, Human Fall Flat became an instant sensation when it was released on PC in 2016, and now fans and curious gamers alike can enjoy this physics-based puzzler on Xbox One. You take on the role of Bob as he goes about his business travelling through a wide range of hazardous environments in search of each and every exit. The kicker here however is that trying to control Bob isn’t as straight forward as can be, mostly due to the fact that he handles like a guy who has had one too many beers.
The game actually takes place inside of Bobs mind, where he constantly dreams that he is falling through a collection of unique and distinct environments that you need to help him travel through and ultimately overcome. Human Fall Flat wastes no time at getting you neck deep in the action and from the moment you pick up control of Bob, your first puzzle awaits. Mercifully the experience does hold your hand for the first few levels and gives you a decent understanding of how to play. There’s several tutorials scattered around each complex structure or puzzle, and you can observe them by picking up a remote control and viewing the video footage via an embedded in-game monitor.
Controlling Bob is really fun at first as he handles utterly and completely ridiculously. He wobbles back and forth like a human-formed balloon full of jelly, and regardless as to how tight and accurate the controls are, you’re going to laugh your socks off when you’re trying to nail any one of the initial puzzles within. I say initial because before long, Bob really begins to grind your gears. Irrespective as to how well in-tune the controls are on top of all the helpful tips you’re handed, Bob responds hopelessly. That may well be the selling point of the game, and maybe this gimmick was lost on me soon after the beginning, but I couldn’t quite stretch out the enjoyment I was having for more than a few hours.
You control each one of Bobs hands independently using the left and right triggers. Do note that his hands will stick to absolutely everything they touch. Pressing small buttons or opening doors inward and outward become a second nature, as does the (primarily confusing) ability to climb ledges. What never really sinks in however is how short a height Bob can jump, or how awkward it becomes to pick objects up and push them over waist-high frames or obstacles. I must have spent 10 minutes trying to push a box over the edge of a railing, only to have it constantly fall back onto me because his hands just wouldn’t un-stick and stick fluidly in place to allow me to accurately place his hands underneath the box. It’s moments like this that Bob and his oddities become far less fun and far more annoying.
Puzzles only get harsher for every level that you complete. Gameplay typically consists of starting at point A, and working out countless puzzles before you make your way to point B. You’ll be taking control of wrecking balls to smash down walls, swinging on structures to pull down boxes that you can place on door-opening panels, pushing over objects to create new pathways, and other like-minded brain twisters. The puzzles are never really straight forward and I admittedly sat trying to work out one specific puzzle for well over an hour, so unless you have the IQ of a rocket scientist, chances are you’ll bump into the proverbial brick wall too. The problem isn’t with the puzzles however, but with Bob and getting him to execute your plan effectively rather than constantly face planting and stumbling away.
This may well sing to those die hard puzzle fans out there, but for me it was a little too much to bear. One thing I really want to praise the game for is the design. I’ve already mentioned that the puzzles climb gradually in difficulty, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that this game shines at its brightest when several puzzles make up one larger puzzle. Human: Fall Flat does a wonderful job at putting your IQ to the test, and when you have puzzles that you cannot solve because you need to solve other mini-puzzles first, it really gives you that sense of accomplishment when you finally nail them and proceed forward. It’s just a shame that by the time these puzzles come into view, Bob has already miffed you off.
Visually the game is gorgeous and while I don’t have much to praise the soundtrack for, the sound effects are crisp and well crafted. Human: Fall Flat has a very clean style about it, and even Bob, who is just a white blob-like individual, looks distinct and unique. You can of course customise him with different clothes if you so see fit but I much preferred the standard default Bob. Most of the environments that you will traverse are easy on the eyes and come in all shapes and sizes, often giving off a very colourful mash up of scenery to observe.
You could probably squeeze about five or more hours out of the game before you’ve seen and done everything, and when you take the price point into account, it’s a worthy exchange. One strange and bizarre aspect is that you can indeed play this via local multiplayer co-op, but the developers have chosen to exclude the highlight of this feature from the game or even the main menu. I cant quite understand why they wouldn’t want to relay co-op or at least make users aware that it exists in the game, especially when having a buddy join you is easily the best way to play. If you’re looking for the option, you need to simply hook up a second controller and hit the A button. There’s no online support, but then for something that’s as hidden as the local co-op is, this is to be expected.
Human: Fall Flat is a decent puzzle game that I have no doubt will please any fan of the genre. Those that like to occasionally dabble in the formula however may be disheartened by the gimmick-like functionality of Bob and his awkward movements. It’s interesting and fun at first, but the novelty soon wears off. The game supports local multiplayer (only) co-op, which really makes the game that much more fun, however the option or presence of this aspect has been hidden for reasons unknown. There’s a great collection of intriguing problems to solve from beginning to end, but it’s arguably halfway through before the best puzzles make an appearance. Visually this game is a joy to observe and although the environments are simplistic by design, they’re well crafted, unique and diverse.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.