Since its announcement during a Nindie’s showcase last year, Flipping Death has been building up quite a lot of excitement, but with Zoink Games reputations of quirky puzzlers with a rather charming art style, that’s not really a surprise. I’m pleased to say that all the excitement that was build up around Flipping Death is well justified. Seamlessly switching between the living and the dead while trying to help ghosts move on to the afterlife not only provided an enjoyable adventure, but also a genuinely funny one.
The game follows the rather unfortunate happenings of Penny, a young girl who has fallen through a mausoleum and found herself in the land of the dead. Not only is Penny now dead but she’s also been mistaken as a temp replacement for Death, who has decided to take a long overdue holiday. If all this sound pretty crazy, well, that’s because it is, and it’s this level of eccentric storytelling that is the fuel for Flipping Deaths hilarious but meaningful story.
Playing as Penny you have the ability to possess the living and but doing so the whole the 2D worlds will instantly switch between the dead and the living, with it is a wonderful transition you’ll never get bored of seeing. By taking control of a living person you’ll able to use them to access areas unavailable to the underworld and utilise their unique skill to help you overcome whatever well-designed puzzle stands in your way.
These quirky members of the public range from the normal to the downright stupid, but despite how bizarre they may be, they all play a key part in helping Penny fulfil her role as Deaths temp. My favourite of the townsfolk had to be Pokeman, a grown man dressed in a superhero costume with the power to poke anything, but who knew poking would be a key mechanic in Flipping Death.
Every time you possess an unsuspecting member of Penny’s hometown they’ll react in an often hilarious manner – either through their actions or dialogue. The puzzle gameplay literally revolves around these members of the town and the different abilities they each offer, which fits in very well with the overall direction of Flipping Death. For example, early in the game, you’ll need to open a tin of paint, rather than finding an item to open the paint you’ll need to think about which person would have a piece of equipment to open the paint. This approach to the puzzles provides the perfect foundation for logical thinking, resulting in the solution often feeling natural and not hidden behind an over-complicated solution.
What’s better to this approach in the ever-evolving feel of the townsfolk. The story is broken up into chapter and every new chapter requires you to unlock the ability to possess the townsfolk again, but they’re mostly the same townsfolk, despite the odd new addition every now an then. By stick with mostly the same cast the whole way through it allows you to become accustomed to what each character offers, so you’re never left scratching your head for too long.
Now, if you’re thinking that surely this approach makes the puzzles easy to solve in Flipping Death then you would be mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking the complexity of games like the Witness, but more like well-designed point & click adventures, where everything that’s meant to work simply does work.
The only exception to this is with some of the playable characters physics. Firstly, due to the almost comedic movement of all the characters, including Penny, jumping can feel a little inconsistent. This is most noticeable when in the underworld as there are several platforming challenges to routes you’ll need to take, and when you fall from the top to only have to start over again it can get a little frustrating. Even more noticeable than that is the physics on some of the characters abilities. For example, there was a moment when I had to move a log into a furnace but the hitboxes of the player and the log were almost ignoring each other, which made me question if I was going about the solution in the right way. This happened several times throughout my 6-hour playthrough, most of the time adding to the comedic nature of Flipping Death but other times providing an annoying hinderance on progressing in the game.
One of the most iconic thing to Flipping Death is it’s weird and wonderful art style, which almost comes across like a picture book. The visual presentation of the game really helps feed the overall wackiness on offer and go hand in hand with both the eccentric townsfolk and the bizarre Penny herself.
Flipping Death is a weird, wacky and wonderful puzzle game to lose yourself in. The unique, storybook-esk visuals work perfectly with the array of eccentric characters you’ll meet while trying to help the ghosts of the underworld. Some of the puzzles do suffer from physics-based imperfections and can lead to some frustration, but more often than not you’ll be laughing about how your character tripped over a log rather than pushing it.