Possession is nine tenths of the law
I have my father to blame for my love of adventure games. He was the one who introduced me to the self-depreciating humor or Guybrush Threepwood in Monkey Island and the comedic calamity exhibited by Rincewind in the Discworld series. Because of this when I heard of Flipping death, an adventure platforming game that stirred memories of another great, Grim Fandango, I couldn’t wait to delve deeper.
There are many interpretations of what occurs once you slip off the mortal coil depending on your beliefs but for Penny of the recently deceased things are not what she expected. You see poor Death is a bit knackered after centuries of guiding souls to their resting place and needs to take a break, so given a comedic set of circumstances Penny is given the temp job of being the Grimm Reaper. You’re tasked with the duty of solving the real-life problems that are anchoring the ghosts in limbo so that they can move on.
For anyone who played Zoinks’ amazing Stick it to the Man, you will instantly recognize the cartoony, zany and exaggerated art style that is implemented here. The game is essentially 2d but objects in the background hint at the mirrored worlds of the living and the dead. Flatwork peaks is a weird and wonderful town of eclectic characters both living and deceased that opens up further and further as the chapters progress. Though I found the living world to be pleasantly bizarre, like something out of a Roald Dahl novel, I prefer the world of the dead with buildings coming alive trying to eat you and the humorous spectral inhabitants. Given the titular mechanic you are able to flip between these worlds in order to solve puzzles by possessing the living.
The mechanics of the game are fairly simple but change contextually. In the land of the dead, Penny can gracefully run, jump and utilize the scythe warp to get to new heights. It’s unchallenging platforming but the focus here is the story. In the real world whomever Penny possesses handles aptly like a puppet was being dragged around on strings. Each of these characters having their own special ability that allows you to progress through the crazily logical puzzles to reach a comical goal. The warping I found a bit tricky as you have to throw the scythe and then click to order to warp to wear the scythe is on its arc. This often led me to being thrown in random directions before I got the hang of it just like I imagine a real temp would do.
The game is laid out in chapters that have humorously narrated introductions in which you must help at least one ghost to successfully complete their unfinished task. Each one of these fantastical ghosts has a backstory that you’re able to play through during well-created rerun sections. These are hilarious, and my favorite was either the witch who had to remind me that it was hard to think straight as her head was perpetually on fire or the superhero who had a vicious run in with a laser.
Once the main story is complete, you can utilize chapter select to clean up any side quests that you may have missed but the overall experience clocks in at around 6-7 hours. I definitely recommend a second play through to appreciate the in jokes and nuances because with Flipping Death, Zoink have crafted a comical gem. As judge once said, ‘Death is no way to make a living’ but it can certainly make a decent temp job.
Coffee received a review copy of the game