Human Fall Flat is a little indie game that not many know about. Released not too long ago on console by No Brake Games, Human Fall Flat has players taking control of a white faceless human blob named Bob (no seriously, his name is just Bob) who must find his way to the end of each level utilizing the entire environment to make sure that happens. “Simplicity” is the term I’d like to best describe game as, plus it has charm in abundance. While it may be simple, that doesn’t mean the game is easy.
When beginning the game, I saw comparisons of the indie hit, The Stanley Parable, which is basically the video game version of an existential crisis. Why am I still playing this? What is supposed to be the purpose of all this? I kept asking myself these questions the more I delved into Human Fall Flat. I had numerous instances of the game feeling absolutely pointless, but yet I was so intrigued and wanted to continue moving forward. The levels are essentially just plain, as is the character. The level design may look plain, but yet expertly crafted as the entire game is one environmental puzzle after the next.
The game begins from the menu and straight into the levels as Bob free falls into the sky, eventually landing on the very first level. As I moved my camera around my avatar, I noticed a door. From here I had to eventually find a way up to the door, making my way to the next area. I stated before how this game is simple, but that is only in the game’s objective. There’s only one simple mission – progress from level to level. The end goal of an area can be as simple as getting to a door that I could plainly see ahead of me, however, finding my way to that door often proved difficult and I had to rely on the environmental objects and clues to assist me. The actions going forward consists of simple tasks, such as moving a board to make a walking platform or moving a box in order to boost myself up.
While those tasks may seem trivial, it is the controls that cause it to be purposely frustrating. In order to grab objects or climb walls like Spider-Man, the player must use R2 to take control of their right arm and L2 for their left hand (right and left triggers on a Xbox One controller). Once control is taken, the right analog stick must be pushed up or down depending the direction the player wants to move their arms. If that sounds awkward or weird, that’s because it is. This is not a con against the game, as this was part of the design choice.
Human Fall Flat really works aesthetically, as the art style of each area is plain, just like Bob. Sections and objects around the environment typically stay plain with little to no detail etched in. If a crane is yellow, don’t expect to see scratches or dents in it, as it will just be plain yellow. It’s blocky, but once again, its a part of the aesthetic and tone of the game.
The real star in Human Fall Flat is the physics. Like the controls, the physics in the game are awkward, just like physics in real life. Objects in real life don’t just land perfectly where one wants to, the same goes for Human Fall Flat. Using the awkward arm controls, I had to move objects where I wanted them to go, while making sure the placement was perfect. There’s not really much to explain in how the physics work, only that they are showcased in a realistic manner. While the physics are an impressive feature, it is the physics that makes the game challenging. As the game progresses throughout it’s five or so hours, the tasks start to get a little more complicated, while still maintaining the simple nature of the game. I also appreciated the learning curve at which the game presents. The difficulty of each level moved up at a consistent rate, where I was able to take little things I learned from previous areas and apply them in new and innovative ways. The game does a good job of making the player overthink situations. I had instances where I took 10 steps when I only needed to take 3 as the solution was usually right in front of me.
Human Fall Flat is a lot like life itself. It’s awkward, odd, and never how one imagines it to be. The controls aren’t within the norm of other third person controls and the game plays out realistically based on the physics. Things are never supposed to go how one expects. The design choices in the art style must also not be mistaken for laziness. While it looks plain, it’s meant to be a normal life where the player is just doing what they’re expected to do. Am I looking too much into this? I don’t think so.
Human Fall Flat sets out to be a charming little indie title, but also has its own artistic view. Like any piece of art, its open to interpretation. What I got out of this title might not be what the developers had envisioned, but that is the beauty of it. With it’s innovative and clever controls, this simple and charming, yet complicated little gem is definitely worth the $15.
For more information on Human Fall Flat, check out the official website. A PS4 code was provided for this review.