PAX East: Human Fall Flat is Essentially Gang Beasts: The Puzzle Game

Gang Beasts will always hold a special place in my heart.

The insane, vector-based blob-brawler from Boneloaf and Double Fine was the title that sold the concept of indie games to some of my most die-hard AAA-only friends. Once they learned about ridiculous games that take risks AAA developers and publishers wouldn’t dream of, there was no looking back. Gang Beasts also takes the cake for the best party game out there, beating out games like Super Smash Bros. and Towerfall: Ascension thanks to its sheer lunacy and stupidity. On top of all of this, Boneloaf’s nonsensical brawler ended up providing perhaps my favorite convention moment of all time, as I had the opportunity to play it on stage against members of Capy Games in front of a roaring crowd at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle during PAX Prime 2014. Of course, this preview is not about Gang Beasts at all, but to understand the wonder that is Human: Fall Flat, it helps to know all about the greatest local multiplayer game that ever lived.

In short, if you were to try and describe Human: Fall Flat in the simplest terms possible, it’s what Gang Beasts would look like as a puzzle game. Players control a gelatinous blob-person whose physics-based movements are inherently difficult to control, with the hopes of maneuvering through a series of rudimentary puzzles. What separates No Brakes Games’ upcoming Jell-O simulator from titles like, say, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, is that it’s actually possible to become proficient at moving your character throughout its environment. Whereas Octodad‘s entertainment value results from essentially being unable to control your character, Human: Fall Flat makes everything a struggle without sacrificing your ability to work your way through a given puzzle. There are certain constants in this particular title that allow you to always feel in control, despite the fact that said control feels as though it could slip away at any moment. From the fact that your character will raise its arms based on the tilt of the camera to the ability to control each arm with their respective triggers, there is never a point in Human: Fall Flat where you feel you can’t do something. The thing is, this doesn’t preclude each puzzle from being really really difficult to complete.

There are certain games that are nearly impossible to put down after grabbing a controller or a mouse. These are inherently the most dangerous titles to play at any convention, especially if you’re a member of the press who is obligated to head to a number of different appointments. I had to physically stop myself from playing more Human: Fall Flat, especially since I was playing it in the middle of a multi-game appointment at the Curve Digital booth. This little bit of inside baseball tells you everything that you need to know about the sheer amount of entertainment value present in Human: Fall Flat, whose initial prototype can be currently be purchased for $9.99. If someone who was at PAX East solely to play as many games as possible had to pull themselves away out of fear of missing future appointments, you know there’s a hook there. Granted, part of this is because of how special Gang Beasts is to me, but the fact that Human: Fall Flat actually feels playable despite its ridiculous physics system is certainly something worth discussing.

All of this praise doesn’t take away from the fact that Human: Fall Flat is going to need a fair amount more content if it hopes to be a title that’s fun for more than just a weekend. While it will never be the type of game that players flock to as a primary title, it appears set to fill the role of the second game that you are playing at any given time. These secondary titles are always great to have in order to wet your palette after blasting through a massive title like Uncharted 4 or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This doesn’t make Human: Fall Flat any less smile-inducing or strangely addictive. It remains to be seen whether or not there’s enough content present in the final release to warrant extended play, but there’s enough of a hook here to keep an eye on this one over the coming months.