Flipping Death is a sort of spiritual successor to Zoink’s Stick it to the Man but with new characters and landmarks.
In Flatwood Peaks, you play as Penny, a young woman who accidentally dies after falling down a well and ends up on ‘the other side’.
Before she knows it, Penny is taking up the mantle of Death who has been desperate for a vacation for thousands of years and finds herself trying to solve the problems of both the living and the dead by flipping the world around on its axis.
Flipping Death sounds beautifully bonkers
It genuinely is. The thing you’ll notice immediately is that the writing is on point in Flipping Death. Falling somewhere between Discworld and Psychonauts, the humour is as off-the-wall as it is succinct.
But rather than Stick it to the Man, this is more like the spiritual successor to Grim Fandango I’ve waited 20 years for. It’s charming, witty, beautifully drawn and animated, and offers the same brand of puzzle solving which made that game a critical darling.
Penny will interact with ghosts that are still anchored to the astral plane because they’ve got ‘unfinished business’ and so it’s up to you to possess the living in order to help them out. Each living character has a unique ability which makes them special, like the little girl who likes to chew gum and the mermaid who is obsessed with chainsaws. Uh….
The point is, you’ll need to figure out how each character can help in a particular jam in order to solve the ultimate aim of the chapter, whether it’s freeing a ghost from some massive looking chains or putting out a witches hat which has been on fire for an eternity.
Of course, it’s not as straightforward as all that. You’ll need to gather three different types of souls in order to possess each character and you’ll generally find that the most important character in the chapter can only be claimed by gathering the hardest to reach souls.
Souls can be claimed in three different ways. Firstly, the standard floating ones which are gathered by jumping through them. Then there’s another set which look like mushrooms that can only be collected in sequence within a time limit, and finally a small batch of souls which are only gathered from a sort-of exploding octopus. You need to keep running away from it until it blows up of its own accord.
There are some enemies which will try to halt you in your tracks as well, so you’ll need to use some carefully managed platform jumping in order to evade them – despite being Death and having a scythe, there’s no actual attack button to kill things. But the scythe does serve its own purpose in that you can throw it up, then dash to it to get to higher platforms or add a little burst of speed to your movement.
So Flipping Death is basically a platforming puzzle game
Exactly. Very much like Stick it to the Man in that regard, but with more creative mechanics, engaging storytelling and better-looking graphics. That said, Flipping Death does suffer from ongoing repetition.
Because you are tied to Flatwood Peaks throughout, the setting soon becomes quite repetitive, making the game a little tedious at times. Which is, weirdly, not a problem Stick it to the Man suffered from. There are flashback sequences Penny visits which change up the aesthetic a little bit, like visiting Peaks hundreds of years in the past, but they are usually the shorter chapters. Before you know it you’re back to your usual haunts.
It’s never dull, but when you’re walking back and forth against the same landscapes chapter after chapter, it breaks the immersion a little bit because you’ll feel like you need to take a break from the game and come back later.
Some platforming sequences also become a bit frustrating with Penny seemingly adopting an occasional double bounce when you hit a platform. It’s quite random and erratic, but when it happens it can catch you off-guard and send you hurtling back down from where you came from. Fortunately, Flipping Death lets you teleport between character locations, so generally you’ll be back where you need to be before you’ve had too much time to grumble.
There were also some odd glitches during our playthrough. Never serious or game-breaking, but there was one time I was running from a ‘soul octopus’ when I randomly fell through the floor and into the void. Fortunately, the game corrected itself once the octopus exploded but not before it became noticeable. There were also a few times when the physics went ballistic and characters / models were sent flipping mindlessly into the air. There were also some minor clipping and texture issues that crept in, but again, nothing too serious.
But regards of its faults, I always found Flipping Death would redeem itself with an overly-obnoxious line, or a crazy fun puzzle to solve. With the fun side objectives, in addition to a surprisingly intriguing story, Zoink have put together a memorable and entertaining title that features some of the best writing in any game this year.
Flipping Death is heartfelt, ambitious and wonderfully creative. I love everything about it, faults and all.
+ Fantastic writing
+ Beautiful hand-drawn characters and environments
+ Wonderfully animated and acted
+ A very entertaining package overall
– Some nasty glitches
– Environment repetition can be a bit of a drag
– Odd platforming hiccups
8 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code provided by the publisher