Game review: Flipping Death is a charming comedy platformer
The makers of Stick It To The Man return with a new journey that brings LucasArts fashion comedy and puzzle-solving to trendy gaming.
Sequels are so prevalent now in video that needing to clarify what a Game is about has change into virtually pointless. COD however with Battle Royale or Assassin’s Creed however in Ancient Greece is normally as difficult as something ever must get, however with Flipping Death, and a fairly excessive proportion of indie , issues change into harder. This is a follow-up to developer Zoink’s 2013 hit Stick It To The Man and although there are many similarities it’s not a sequel and has a completely different premise. And that alone we find immediately impressive.
Flipping Death certainly uses a similar graphical style to Stick It To The Man, but even more extravagantly detailed – to the point where it’s genuinely one of the best-looking games we’ve seen all year. The stylised 2D graphics are absolutely gorgeous and presented with such verve and confidence you’d swear this actually was a big budget game.
What’s even better though is that the visuals are used with purpose, to illustrate the peculiar position that heroine Penny finds herself in. Unceremoniously killed in the prologue, via her own misadventure, a mix-up in the land of the dead ends up with her covering for the Grim Reaper while he goes on holiday. At which point hilarity genuinely does ensue…
Flipping Death is essentially a mix between 2D platformer and something that vaguely resembles an old school LucasArts adventure game. Which is to say that it’s focused around actual puzzles and not purely Telltale Games style dialogue. Penny takes to her new role surprisingly well and immediately starts trying to help out all the lost souls, who are unable to move on until their unresolved business in the living world is taken care of.
This is where the game’s key gameplay gimmick (and its name) comes into play, as Penny is able to move between the two worlds at will by possessing a living person. When she does so the whole screen flips around 180 degrees, like something out of Paper Mario, and the dark gloomy world of the dead is suddenly replaced by the much more vibrant world of the living.
It’s a great effect on a purely visual level but it also sets up a classic light/dark world mechanic where what you do in one affects the other. Often you’re just trying to clear the way in terms of platforming, but you also constantly have to go back and forth for inventory-based puzzles – finding objects and then trying to locate the person that can help you use them.
In the land of the dead Penny can use her (well, Death’s) scythe to get around fairly easily, by throwing it at a ledge and teleporting towards it. In the real world though she’s limited to the physical abilities of whoever she’s possessing, although that can include animals as well – which leads to much amusement when dropping guano bombs as a seagull.
We’re trying to paint as positive a picture of the game as we can here but in truth we don’t think this quite lives up to the standards of its predecessor. Although they’re certainly more involved than any comparable modern title, the puzzles are much simpler than anything in an actual LucasArts game. Plus, the characters are constantly giving away obvious clues even if you don’t look at the visual ‘hints’, which only just stop short of being complete solutions.
A lot of the time there’s really not any doubt about where you need to go or what you need to do, and although at least it’s not very difficult the platforming is slow and clunky and not very fun. The game as a whole is enjoyable, but a lot of the specific details and mechanics feel disappointingly underdeveloped.
The biggest disappointment for us though, is the script. Both games are by comic book writer Ryan North, whose Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has always been a GameCentral favourite. Unfortunately though this is not one of his better efforts and it’s not nearly as funny as Stick It To The Man. There are some good lines, and the voice-acting is once again excellent, but a lot of the time it feels rather strained – as if it needed a couple of extra drafts to reach its full potential.
The whole game feels like that though and so rather than the comedy classic that it might have been it’s more an amusing but quickly forgettable one. Zoink are clearly a talented studio though and we hope they give this general style of game a third try, because even if this isn’t quite as good as the first one it’s still flipping great.
In Short: A slight disappointment after the surprise hit of Stick It To The Man, but still one of the best modern day equivalents to LucasArts style comedy and puzzling.
Pros: Fantastic 2D graphics and a great spin (literally) on the light/dark world mechanic. Amusing characters and great voiceovers.
Cons: The puzzles lack complexity and the platforming is very basic. The script is never quite as funny as it seems it should be.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Release Date: 7th August 2018
Age Rating: 12