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Flipping Death Review


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On 10/18/2018 at 09:00 AM by Nick DiMola

If it wasn't for its heart and soul, you might just be annoyed to death.
RECOMMENDATION:

If you cut your teeth on the adventure games of yore, you might just love Flipping Death. Others might just find the puzzles a bit too obtuse to truly appreciate what Flipping Death has to offer.

I’ve had some trouble sticking with Flipping Death. In between playing other games for review I slowly chipped away at it, making small progress over a pretty extended period of time. On the surface, I really love what it’s going for. This platforming-adventure has a great sense of humor, memorable characters, and a really neat and unique art style that absolutely leaves an impression. While all of the accoutrement is fantastic, solving puzzles and accomplishing tasks feels pretty consistently obtuse and rarely satisfying when you finally figure it all out.

To set the stage, you play as Penny, who has tragically and unexpectedly died. Upon showing up in the afterlife, Death is ready for a vacation on the moon and essentially forces Penny to take over for him. In her new role, she has the ability to possess the living, allowing her to quickly and easily jump between the now and the hereafter. Through possession of the living, she must solve both the living and the dead’s problems, which ultimately begins to unravel the circumstances of her death.

The experience is broken up into chapters and at the start of each, you need to work through the spirit world first to make your first entry into the world of the living. Possessing most of the living creatures requires a soul currency that can be found easily throughout the spirit world. There are spirits around as well that will help give you some purpose for the level. After talking with them you might be given a small nugget of information that you can work from to begin piecing together how to accomplish the mandatory objectives of the level. From there you’ll begin possessing creatures and inspecting their inner monologue and using their special “quirk” ability to see what they may be useful for. This ability can modify both the environment and affect other characters, so it’s generally how you’re solving puzzles.

To give a bit more context, an example is necessary. There are some spoilers in the given example, so if you want to go into Flipping Death without any knowledge of the puzzles, be sure to skip the next four paragraphs.

In one particular chapter, you’re given the task of putting out the fire on Vera the witch. As it turns out, being on fire makes it tough to concentrate and she can’t help Penny until it’s extinguished. I guess the fire isn’t too horrible, because you’ll spend close to an hour figuring out how to put the damn thing out. This involves possessing anything that you possibly can and talking to the other ghosts to try to get some clues as to how to proceed.

Now strap in, because the actual solution is more involved than anyone could have possible guessed. First, you need to possess a firefighter, then walk him to a random house, go inside and put out the fire in the fireplace. In the process of doing this, you’ll learn an interesting bit of information - he likes scary movies and is currently watching one involving a little demonic girl. Small details like this are almost always important and you’ll need to stash them away to help you progress later.

After you’ve put out the fire, back in the spirit world, there’s an enemy you need to lure to a certain point so it can be pulled into the world of the living, turning it into a bubble gum dispenser. Of course, someone needs to chew the bubble gum, so you’ll have to figure out who might, which turns out to be a girl who can bite things. Collecting the gum apparently enables her to blow bubbles and fly for short bursts, which will allow her to fly into the chimney thus covering her in soot. How is this related to putting out a spirit witch’s fire, you might ask? Hold on, we’ll get there.

Covering the little girl in soot makes her look like the monster from the horror movie. Heading back to the firehouse as the girl, you can go scare the firefighter to death, which makes him appear in the afterlife, thus allowing him to put out Vera’s fire. It’s almost impossible to know when you start that following these leads will actually result in accomplishing the task at hand. As it turns out, putting out Vera’s fire is only one of the mandatory objectives, with a slew of optional ones that further muddy the waters on how to progress.

As should be evident from the above example, you’ll sometimes need to take enormous mental leaps to arrive at the solutions to move forward. Many times because it was so unobvious, I found myself stumbling into the answer, which made “solving” the puzzle unsatisfying. Other times, even when I did sort it all out, it was a brute force exercise, also removing all of the satisfaction from the process. In almost all cases, by the time I figured it all out, I was just happy to be done and moving on.

Because the gameplay itself can often feel like a chore, it’s really the aforementioned character, charm, and art style that carries the experience. The story is also of interest and tracing the details of Penny’s death acts as another carrot to help drag you through the game’s eight chapters.

Controlling all of the action is yet another roadblock in enjoying Flipping Death. The quirk actions tied to the right stick are super awkward and sometimes require some really specific motions to achieve the desired goal. Furthermore, the buttons you use to perform actions never become second nature, because they break universal conventions, like hitting B to go back.

Despite all my frustration and the many glaring flaws of Flipping Death, I still find myself attracted to it. I love the world and the characters and the humor. It’s a fascinating place to be transported to and I only wish the core gameplay was of the same caliber.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Matt Snee Staff Writer

10/19/2018 at 06:42 AM

I like adventure games, but nearly all of them have moments that are annoying as hell. I think the best ones balance it. I do love the genre though. 

At least the graphics look great on this one. 

Nick DiMola Director

10/19/2018 at 04:06 PM

I'm hit or miss with them. Some really connect, while others don't. A lot of this one feels like brute force, which groups it with the ones I usually don't connect with. The characters and the art really elevate this one to something more than what it would be otherwise though. So despite my frustration, I did enjoy my time with Flipping Death.

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