Flipping Death is another brilliant adventure game from the creative minds at Zoink Games. If you’re not sure who the developer is, they are the ones behind Fe and the equally as awesome Stick it to the Man! Flipping Death is very similar to Stick it to the Man, but that’s not a bad thing as more of the same is always welcomed when ‘the same’ is already high quality. As Deaths newly appointed replacement, you must help see to the needs of both the living and the dead as you struggle to solve mysteries, rescue dogs, poke people, and many more crazy tasks!
The question is, does the game have the same magic that Stick it to the Man had and how many references to similar pieces of media can I fit into the review?
Our story begins with the lovely, timid, shy and peaceful little girl named pe… Okay, maybe not! Our protagonist, Penny, is an outgoing, kind of aggressive, non-sensitive, and rather mean woman who opens the game dressed as Death. Okay, that doesn’t sound to bad right? She’s dressed as Death whilst working at a funeral parlour on Halloween! Ahhh… Without ruining too much of the story, on her way home she decides to mess around in the graveyard and ultimately ends up falling to her death in a similar fashion to Beth from Until Dawn. Brutal.
Moments later, Penny is up and about as she begins to go through the five stages of death, something she refuses to believe is true (denial). She ends up bumping into a familiar face – Death himself! However, Death confuses her for the new temp he’s been waiting an eternity for and hastily hands over his cape and scythe to Penny so that he can go and take a trip to the moon. This part of the story reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Mort, where Death has gone missing and his daughter has to take over in his absence.
This is where the real adventure begins. As Penny, you must move around the afterlife as you talk to spirits and collect lost souls which allows you to take over the bodies of the living on the flip side of the screen (hence FLIPPING Death). Whilst in the living realm, you’ll also be trying to help people out and complete rather random activities which will combinate in achieving your final goal! A goal which I’m not going to mention here as I don’t want to spoil it for you!
Control your Death?
If you’ve played Stick it to the Man then you’ll know what to expect in terms of Flipping Death. Controls are nice and simple – in the land of the dead you can move, jump, throw your scythe so you can teleport, talk to the dead and collect souls. In the land of the living, you can perform various different activities based on who you are possessing (for example the fireman can put out fires), jump, talk to people, read minds and complete challenges. It works really well and each character is literally screaming with personality and charm – there are even some cameos from Stick it to the Man characters!
One of the things I didn’t like about the control aspect though is the physics. Everyone is made of paper – let that sink in for a moment. It’s like if Paper Mario and a Tim Burton movie had a baby – it would be Flipping Death. Anyway, this means the physics are a little strange and ‘off’. This wouldn’t be an issue, as it’s rather funny when you push things and they flop all over the place, but there is one point where you have to push an item for quite a distance – that’s not a fun process. The ‘object’ will bounce in the air, go upside down and refuse to move, at one point it stretched out on the screen as it got caught on something, and it would occasionally bounce in the air and go backwards, behind my character. It’s not a big issue, but it is one which frustrated me a little at that one point.
Can I help you, sir?
The aim of the game is to help people, you’re Death – it’s what he does, isn’t it? This part reminded me a little of Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais – all the dead people are asking you for help because the living can’t see or interact with them. As such, you’ll be tasked with solving murders, bringing people to justice, rescuing the remains of the dead and completing their final wishes in order for them to move on. I loved these as everything is easy enough to figure out but also requires a little bit of thinking in order to work out HOW you do the things you know you need to do.
One example is at one stage you have to go down a chimney to acquire a gift that had become stuck and then return it to the person it was meant to be for. Clearly the solution for this was to find a creature in the undead realm, tempt it to land upon a ghostly hand so it can be brought into the land of the living, take control of a girl who can’t stop chewing, chew on the newly uncovered bubblegum machine, blow a bubble and use that to allow her to fly up and land in the chimney. Simple, right?!
Okay, some of the ‘solutions’ are a little wacky and out there but you’re not left on your own. In the options menu, you have the ability to look at hints – these are a few images which literally hint at what you need to do. They don’t tell you where to go or what to do, they don’t even point you literally in the right direction – they simply show you an image so that it’ll spark your brain and you’ll work it out yourself. I’ve looked at three images so far and each time it was exactly what I thought it would be, I just had to do things slightly different.
The fun doesn’t end there either – each chapter has its own set of random challenges which will unlock various playing cards based on the townsfolk with information about them on the back. These are about as random as you can get – there is a guy who likes poking things who has to poke a certain number of people, a musician has to play music and create a sort of Conga line, a bird must crap on a set amount of people and many, many more mini-challenges! Seriously, the game had me laughing from the opening cutscene pretty much all the way through.
As you progress through the story, your goals change a little as a new ‘issue’ is thrown into the mix, an issue which Penny won’t stand for and demands answers about. As such, Penny basically begins to help people not out of empathy and care for the undead but out of necessity as they withhold information until you complete their biddings. There is also a rather cool flashback sequence which you playthrough, which I really enjoyed, where you basically play out what would be a cutscene in any other game. Also, another highlight for me was having to kill someone so they can help out an undead person and then bring him back to life because he wasn’t supposed to die yet. That was rather ingenious and something I didn’t even think of until I accidentally did it.
The thought that must have gone into desiging some of these puzzles is quite impressive!
The inhabitants of Flipping Death:
One of the biggest things which drew me to both Flipping Death and Stick it to the Man is the sheer craziness and charm of the inhabitants of both games. They remind me of Terence and Phillip from Southpark with their ‘floppy heads’ which just float between the upper and lower parts of their mouth. The quirky nature of each possessed human is also rather mesmerising and enchanting in a way. We have the aforementioned Pokeman who just loves poking things with his incredibly stretchy arms. There is even a Norman Bates style guy who lives at home with his mother who hides a secret in his basement. This guy loves licking things; as such, he will literally lick everything and anything – just like Miley Cyrus – as you take control of him.
Later on, you’ll gain access to a chainsaw loving Mermaid, a Vulture who can fly and loves lifting up shiny things into the air, and even a giant whale which may or may not have a couple of dead bodies stuck within it! The creativity of every single character and the amount of wacky stuff you see in this game makes me question if the developers are geniuses or mental! I instantly fell in love with these characters and I can’t wait to jump back in and try and unlock the rest of the trophies. Every character is also voiced brilliantly both in the real world and in their own head (via L1 for hints and random conversations).
Flipping Death looks Flipping Beautiful. that’s pretty much all I need to say in terms of the visuals if I’m being honest! The art design is unlike anything I’ve seen from other studios and instantly screams out “Zoink Games” whenever I see it. From the detailed yet almost simplistic paper-thin characters to the gorgeous hand-drawn environments, everything looks like it’s come straight out of a child’s storybook. Okay, a dark, gritty, slightly twisted and crazy child’s storybook, but you get the picture! I even love the depth of field effects which is present in the foreground and background as it helps create a sense of depth in this literal 2D puzzle platformer.
In regards to Flipping Deaths audio, there isn’t really much I can add to the praise I have for its voice acting. The music is very relaxing and calm, even though the action around you may be rather manic! Both the living and the dead realms have their own soundtracks which swap around as you flip between the two plains. Even though the music isn’t a very long loop, you don’t really notice unless you’re listening out for it because of the constant flipping from one plain to the other.
Flipping Death also does something a lot of games don’t, yet I wish they would, it auto adjusts the audio levels. This means that whilst you’re walking around the volume of the music will be normal but as soon as you engage in any conversations then the music lowers slightly so you can hear the voices perfectly! It’s a very small addition to the overall experience but its one which is very welcomed and makes interacting with people much more engaging.
So, Flipping Death – yay or neigh? For me, this is yet another essential purchase on your chosen platform of gaming! The story is very interesting, albeit with a lot of possibly unintentional references and similarities of other media, and the dialogue is really funny and a joy to play. I found a few of the puzzles a little tricky at first but nothing was too hard that I couldn’t figure it out eventually, even if it was a case of possessing everyone first to see what each persons ‘ability’ was. On a similar note, I think the ‘hint’ option has been implemented rather well by only showing you an image so that it makes you think “how do I get that to happen” or “ohhhh, that’s what I needs to try”, rather than just blatantly stating what you have to do and locking you out of a trophy or two. It also encourages people to play the game for themselves and use the built-in hints for help rather than just looking up a guide and following it word for word – which I also approve of.
I didn’t like the physics in the game at certain points – Instead of them being ‘funny’ they just turned out to be a pain when I was trying to move a certain ‘item’ over to the junkyard. It was also rather hard trying to hit the item to smash the hospital window. Other than that though, the rest of the physics within the game seem to work fine and I had no issues with them. As I mentioned above, I found Flipping Death really funny and joy to play through – I would even say this was more fun than Stick it to the Man and I loved that game when I played it a few years ago. If you like adventure, puzzle or quirky games then I can’t recommend this enough to you.
Flipping Death is a flipping great spiritual successor to Stick it to the Man. There are plenty of undead characters to help crossover, a load of challenges for the possessed living to participate in, and countless laughs to have whilst listening to the hilariously twisted humour the game throws at you. Zoink Games have improved on every aspect of the game which was present in SittM in order to bring us yet another awesome adventure-puzzle platformer. The physics are a bit wobbly but everything else in the puzzle platforming adventure game is as solid as a rock.
Highly recommended to fans of the genre and people who loved Stick it to the Man.
- Really funny and enjoyable story
- The characters simply ooze personality and wackiness
- Lots of puzzles to solve in both realms
- The hint system actually gives you a hint instead of just solving it for your
- You get to poke everyone, crap on their heads, defibulated them and even lick them if you so choose!
- The physics are a little wobbly when they could do with being a bit more grounded in a certain situation
- I don't have enough room to write all the positives on the flip side of this section