Looking for a fun and friendly spooky game to play this Halloween? Something with the spirit of the season, but without all the jump scares or gruesome details? Then check out Flipping Death, the latest release from Swedish indie game studio Zoink.
Flipping Death Details
Welcome to the afterlife
In Flipping Death you’ll play as Penny—a recently unemployed (and recently deceased) funeral home attendant. Unfortunately for Penny, she doesn’t get to relax for long. Death himself is due for a vacation, and he tasks her to fill his shoes while he’s away.
Taking on the role of Death, Penny must traverse between the world of the living and the afterlife. In doing so the acts as a glorified landlord for the denizens of the other side. She solves the mysteries and unfinished business plaguing her fellow spirits so that they can finally rest in peace.
Both sides of the story
Flipping Death uses a combination of puzzles and platforming. Once Penny takes on the role of death, she is able to flip between both worlds. She visits the world of the living by possessing the residents of her former hometown.
When possessing a living host Penny can read their thoughts, speak as their “inner voice”, and influence their actions. Using a combination of these actions she is able to solve the problems ultimately causing unrest for those waiting to pass on. Each resident of the living world has a unique action suiting their personality which Penny can compel them to perform, which is often the biggest clue on how to get past a given roadblock.
The puzzle elements of Flipping Death far outweigh the platforming in terms of fun, and are the shining part of its gameplay. I found them to be strongly reminiscent of the kind of puzzles inherent to older point-and-click adventure games. A combination of story text, environmental clues, and a bit of fuzzy logic often lead you down the correct path.
For the most part the puzzles are fair, with sufficient clues to spur you in the right direction. I never felt stuck or particularly flummoxed by an overtly illogical solution. The game does an excellent job of laying out a trail without giving too much away regarding each mystery.
However, if you do ever find yourself stuck there is a series of progressive hints for each puzzle that players can access through the pause menu. These consist of single images which show a representation of the next solution, from which the appropriate action can be extrapolated. These clues are fairly cut-and-dry, but it’s nice that they still require players to do a little bit of thinking rather than simply describing the answer verbatim.
While Flipping Death shines for its puzzles, as a platformer it’s a bit more lackluster. In one of the games platforming mechanics, Penny uses Death’s scythe as a teleportation device. By tossing the scythe to an unreachable location, Penny can then teleport to that spot.
In most cases this is just more tedious than fun. There isn’t really a sense of accomplishment for tossing and teleporting, it’s just a bit of a nuisance that slows down (or stretches out) gameplay. Generally I just find myself wishing I could jump from location to location rather than have to fiddle with the teleportation mechanic at all.
Another attempt to spice up platforming in Flipping Death comes in the form of tiny spirits that Penny must collect. These are scattered in groups throughout the afterlife and are the currency which Penny spends to possess a new living human.
The challenge is that they move—and always away from Penny. Imagine if the coins in Super Mario tried to dodge you at every turn. I understand the motive in trying to make these a bit more of a challenge to collect, but in my opinion it ultimately just frustrates. It’s just not so much fun to have to corner your collectibles on a consistent basis.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing outright about Flipping Death is its gorgeous art style. In considering the game a “spiritual successor” to its previous indie hit Stick it to the Man, Zoink employs the same creatively zany aesthetic.
Everything in the world of Flipping Death is exaggerated in length and height. using curving lines, it gives people and objects a cartoonish feel that borders on absurd. The aesthetic is extremely Burton-esque, looking like something of a mash-up between Beetlejuice and a Nickelodeon cartoon from the 1990’s—all the more reason why it suits a game about death so well.
The colours really pop as well. The contrast between the vibrant living world and the darker feel of the afterlife adds to the beauty of Flipping Death’s art direction. I can honestly say that simply enjoying the game visually was among my favourite things about playing it.
On top of everything else, Flipping Death also benefits from a strong script and great voice acting. The crazy characters in particular that populate the game make for some genuine entertainment. The script is full of witty observations and one-liners, and I chuckled out loud more than once on my playthrough.
Flipping Death is an amusing take on the afterlife with great puzzles
With its awesome art aesthetic and amusing narrative, Flipping Death is a great puzzle game to play around Halloween, or any time for that matter. I had fun analyzing clues and unfolding each mystery that came before me. I was also genuinely interested in the zany cast, and seeing the resolution to their respective stories.
As a platformer it does not hold up as well, but if you can get past the flaws which cause the game to drag more than they add value, then at its heart Flipping Death is a gorgeous and stimulating experience. If you love Tim Burton-style storytelling with a mixture of comedy and the arcane, Flipping Death may well be just the game for you.
+ Fantastic art style
+ Amusing narrative
+ Intriguing puzzles
– Weak platforming
– Collectable currency that doesn’t want to be collected
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FLIPPING DEATH
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5