Review | 7/27/2016 at 8:00 AM

Human: Fall Flat Co-Op Review

Cooperative goofing off.

Ah, hello there, human! Welcome to the world! If you see anything you'd like to do, please feel free to give it a try. Oh, you want to push buttons? Go right ahead. Opening doors? Yeah, you can do that too, I guess. Throwing rocks through windows, bending bars with levers, crashing through walls with catapults? Um, maybe we should talk about someth--no, ok, you went ahead with it. That's all right, go forth and have fun. If you can control that bubbly human body of yours, that is!

Human: Fall Flat is a physics sandbox meets puzzle game. Think of it like Octodad's distant cousin with emphasis on environmental puzzles instead of tentacled hijinks. You play an unnamed, nondescript (but fully paintable) character who is essentially a gooey ragdoll with glue on its hands. You can control this human's arms, moving them out, up, and even down. You can also jump, but not very far or very high. With such a limited move set, you have to get creative to get anything done in this game. Fortunately, Human: Fall Flat is all about rampant creativity.

The game starts with some simple puzzles to get you in the right frame of mind. Each level is a small arena littered with obstacles you may or may not be able to manipulate. (Even if you can't, I guarantee you'll still try.) There's no such thing as a simple task. Pushing a button means you have to sidle up to the switch, raise the correct hand, adjust its position to match, then step forward to smack it. Soon you'll be gripping train carts and sliding them around, carrying sticks to hook onto ledges, swinging from lanterns, and even raising your arms in the air and jumping off cliffs. Because that's how humans climb things.

After a few stages of simple riddles, Human: Fall Flat throws everything it's got right in your face. The game does a phenomenal job sparking your curiosity with sights and scenes you can look at but not touch. There's always part of the level you can't quite reach, meaning you should do everything in your power to get there. Not only does this show the proper way forward, it also invites you to step out and play. If you die, you won't lose any progress. Go ahead, see if you can scale that castle wall. Won't hurt to try.

The secret to unbridled entertainment in Human: Fall Flat is the ability to screw around and do whatever you want but feel like you're accomplishing something. Yes, there's a puzzle that needs to be solved and yes, there's a particular set of things you'll need to do in order to solve it, but why not roll some barrels down a hill first? Who knows what you'll learn! The game is conducive to sandboxing and supports your efforts by creating landscapes free from no-win situations. Want to toss some furniture out a window? Go for it. And that catapult? Man, you can play with that thing for hours.

What brings all of the chaos and fun to fruition is the game's barebones co-op mode. Two local players can fall flat in splitscreen, each controlled with their own gamepad. You'll need two controllers for co-op to work, not a keyboard and a controller. Once you're in, the game moves forward as before, only instead of one blobby human, there are two. This turns some of the basic puzzles into simple, laughable obstacles, and some of the complex puzzles into genuine cooperative challenges. Instead of moving a cart, stopping, then going around to hop on top, co-op Fall Flat makes it so one player can adjust while the other moves forward. But the other stuff? Yeah, good luck actually cooperating with that wrecking ball.

Co-op is hilarious in Human: Fall Flat. Provided you have a hilarious co-op partner, that is. The creative sandbox mode really shines when two people are playing at the same time. You want to solve puzzles, but you also want to see if you can carry that piece of glass to the top of the wooden tower. Then you want to see what happens when you throw it off. Then you want to see what happens if you throw the other person off. And so on. It's a riot, and you'll love it.

Human: Fall Flat was clearly designed to bring out our inner child. The world is so simple but so enjoyable, like a kid in a playpen. Nothing can hurt you, everything is there for your enjoyment. Some of the puzzles and situations are frustrating, and it takes a long time before you can perform some of the more complicated maneuvers reliably. Climbing is an exercise in repeatedly falling, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be throwing yourself off ledges left and right. There's always room to fudge a solution in this game. Even if you fail, you're gonna have a great time doing it. And so will your co-op buddy, as soon as he's done firing himself out of the catapult for the 19th time.