August 24, 2018

Flipping Death - Review

One of the earliest games announced for Switch is finally, but has the long wait been worth it, or is this game dead or arrival?

In Flipping Death, you play as Penny a young lady with a penchant for the dramatic and a slightly over enthusiastic obsession with Halloween and upon being fired from her job for those reason, she did work at a mortuary though, she and her boyfriend Elliot go for a drive, only to crash the car. In crashing they were attempting to avoid some creature that almost hit them, but as they crash near a cemetery, Penny considers it good luck, as she thinks it is a great place and while playing around inside of a mausoleum, she falls through the ground and dies. But this is where her story really begins, after quickly discovering this fact, she meets Death, who mistakenly assumes Penny is the Temp he requested, dumps his scythe on her and bails for a much-needed vacation.

As Penny begins to help out the ghost of a woman who was murdered, she soon learns that while she is playing Death, her body is running around the world causing a little havoc and she is determined to help get her body back. In order to do that though, she needs to solve the problems of the ghosts that are hanging around town, some of them just want to have one final wish before they move on, others just want a little help with something, but each of them are crazy. There is the old boat captain, who was killed by his wife, after she found out he named his boat ‘Secret Mistress’ after his not-so-secret mistress, so while he stands on the dock with an anchor in his head, all he wants is to see his boat painted and to then set sail. Then there is Vera, a witch who has spent the past 400 years or so, with her head on fire, after being burned alive as a witch and while she is quite helpful, she tends to forget things after a bit, due to her head being on fire.

Each chapter of the game has a single goal, but it is achieving that goal where the fun and frustrations come into play, the game mostly takes place in the world of Flatwood Peaks and as a small town, they have a variety of places, Fire House, Hospital, Paint Factory and so on, each location has an Otherside version as well, but it is not the locations that are important, more so the people in them. In order to get help from Vera in one of the later chapters, you need to put her fire out and there is only a single fireman in town, but he is also alive, so you need to kill him, but he loves scary movies, so you need to find away to really scare him, let me just say that doing so involves a girl with a strong biting reflex and a man in a santa costume.

For every goal you are given, there is a single way to solving it, but it is discovering where to being that can be a pain, whilst you can use the games in built hint system, which presents you with an image to highlight the action, you still need to locate the person or object you need and that is where the game struggles. Flatwood Peaks is an interesting town, lots of hills, perhaps the most dangerous road ever and more, but the layout is horrid. Attempting to navigate from one end to the other, requires you to climb up to the top of a mountain, just to go down the other side, while in the world of the living, this is short-cutted by some bizarre looking Wonka-vators, but when in Otherside, you are required to jump and climb your way around. The game does allow you to warp to a single person or ghost you have met in that chapter, but you can’t warp a living person around, so moving is still on you. The other issue with the map is that the world shifts, with some areas like the junkyard only appearing when needed, but all of the signs still point to it, so you not only have to deal with a bizarrely constructed town, but one were things get blocked off at will.

One element that the town does help sell is the visuals, the diorama style is a really fun and unique way to view the game, you will notice it more when driving, your car zips to and fro, pushing away from the camera at times as well. While the city is built on a more regular 2d plain, there are still those same diorama elements to enjoy. Enter a building and the image zooms in, as if you were removing the front of it and then could only see inside it. When you flip to Otherside, yes the entire world flips, but you get a chance to see the backside of things, but rather than just being bland nothings, for every element in the real world, there is a monster face to match in Otherside. The diorama effect also translates to the characters you can possess, which shows when you take control, giving a more puppet feeling, but it also allows for some issues.

Because the people you control, or dog even, behave like puppets on a string, anyone who has ever used a puppet will tell you that strings get twisted and that effect happens here. There were multiple times where the character I was controlling would have an arm pass through their body, or their head would move into their body, whilst attempting to turn, it was a strange effect to be sure. The other thing that you will notice a lot, is the disconnect between the characters arms and head to their body, when you get a close up, you can see a clear break between the two, something which once you notice, you will never be able to un-see.

One aspect that I did really enjoy was the audio, the character of Penny sounded real, not only when she was being enthusiastic about things, but her general mannerisms all sounded authentic. The rest of the world, not so much, while seeing a cop who becomes and elite hacker when he sleeps is funny, the whole big cop, no confidence element is not knew, in fact more of the people are just built upon the stereo types we all know. The captain of a ship should be a grizzled old man, complete with some form of love to his ship and we get that, and while the performance is good, something to break conventions would have been nice.

The other part of the audio that I loved was the music, as the game is a puzzle one, you could spend a lot of time just trying to work out a single part of a puzzle and at no point did the music ever grate my ears. Each of the melodies was nicely performed, to the point that I had paused the game for a bit, to make dinner and even after cooking it and eating it, the same piece of music was playing on the pause menu and it never bothered me at all.

Flipping Death is a great game, it has an eclectic cast of characters and while most of them fit into some generic architypes, some blow past that. With a quirky world and even quirkier possession mechanic, fun is sure thing, but with some witty writing to top it off, the entire thing feels great, so much so that even the town could stop me from visiting the world again, if a sequel was made.

Review copy provided by Zoink Games

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