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Flipping Death (Switch) Hands-on Preview

by Carmine Red - March 7, 2017, 4:49 pm PST
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Flipping Death has a loopy, twisted take on the hallowed structure of point-and-click-esque puzzle adventure games.

At first glance Flipping Death reminded me of Capcom's puzzle game Ghost Trick: in both games you act as a ghostly denizen and possess things in the world of the living to solve puzzles. But after playing the title I realized that Flipping Death played out on a much grander scale, akin to an epic point-and-click puzzle adventure game as opposed to contained and tightly engineered puzzles.

The basic idea is that you are tasked with solving puzzles presented as the unfinished business of fellow denizens of the ghost world you meet along the way. While in the shadowy ghost world, you can talk with the ghosts, nab flying blue bugs to charge up your powers of possession, and traverse the environment by jumping or throwing your scythe and then teleporting to its location. You can also see the sillhouettes of the living humans in the living world, and when you stand by them you can hear their muffled dialogue. If you've collected enough blue bugs (a very easy task), you can press Y and take possession of the human, press L to read their mind, using the left analog stick to force them to start walking around, and use the right analog stick to control their arms, their tools (like a dentist's drill), or even in one case their tongue!

While playing it was explained to me that whereas with most point and click adventure games you're moving objects around to solve puzzles, here you're mostly moving people around to solve the puzzle. For an example, during the course of one puzzle I had to get the character with the aforementioned tongue, take him to a set of gravestones that had been spilled over with paint, and have him lick up the paint. Writing that down it sounds absurd, but it made 100% sense when I did it due to the game's visual clues for that section of the puzzle. What did I do next with the character with the blue tongue? Why, I painted something blue of course by making the character LICK ALL OVER IT.

Obviously the game has a twisted, loopy sense of humor. It's not dark, per se, but it's definitely irreverent: I could've had the "tongue" guy, a young man, lick his elderly bride-to-be and she'd enjoy it (the priest alongside them though, would not). I could posess a dentist and have him throw around his dental drill in such a way that the young girl he was treating fled for her life. And the protagonist, who may only be part of this ghostly puzzle world through some sort of cosmic mixup, has snarky repartee with the other ghostly NPCs. The art style is likewise twisted and loopy, and the living humans run around with ragdoll physics when possessed which really drives hom the idea that you're possessing their physical bodies.

There are other ways that Flipping Death engages with the interplay of the living and the dead mirror worlds. A paint can in the living world might be a monster in the ghostly world, for example, and that monster must be lured to another location where it can be caught and transferred back to the living world, effectively teleporting the can of paint to where it's needed. In an initially confusing, but quite neat trick, the directions of the worlds are reversed. Since you are literally flipping when you switch between worlds, walking to the right in the living world equates to walking to the left in the ghost world.

The initial town I experienced in the playable demo seemed chock full of content. It wasn't crowded with people, but each living person was, for lack of a better term, a "character." They'd been given a whimsical existence, their own context within the world, and, when you were done posessing them, they would run back to their proper spot and previous lives. It made me excited to see what other characters, puzzles, and especially stories I'd run into in the finished game. It also made me excited to play it as a point-and-click adventure should truly be played: leisurely, slowly savoring the game's atmosphere, visiting all the characters, exploring their thoughts and stories, and taking my own sweet time to alternatively be stumped byand then conquer a series of wacky puzzles.

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Game Profile

Developer Zoink AB

Worldwide Releases

na: Flipping Death
Release Year 2018
PublisherZoink AB
eu: Flipping Death
Release Year 2018
PublisherZoink AB
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