While I didn’t play Zoink Games’ Stick it to the Man, I was impressed by it’s flat but vibrant art style. When I saw that the developers would be tackling this aesthetic again with Flipping Death, which brings a unique world-flipping mechanic into the mix in a story about Death’s temp, I was immediately hooked.
After playing the game for myself, I’ve been charmed by Flipping Death’s odd story, characters, and comedy in addition to the visuals. That being said, the game could have benefited by sticking to its adventure and puzzle game roots apparent when possessing people rather than putting some of the focus on mediocre platforming in The Otherside.
From the start, Flipping Death has a unique and snarky flair to both its comedy and story. After getting fired from her job at a funeral home for try to scare customers as the devil, she goes sneaking into a graveyard with her boyfriend. She ends up falling through a hole when sneaking into the cemetery and dying. Penny winds up in the Otherside, where unsatisfied ghosts go when they die. She tries to talk to Death himself to fix things, but the surprisingly laid-back reaper mistakes her for his temp, giving the role to her before going on vacation
This sets Penny on a short but interesting path as the grim reaper, helping various ghosts with their problems while also trying to find a way back to the land of the living and stop the spirit that has taken over her dead body. The premise is very out there, and fortunately never takes itself very seriously, resulting in an adventure that will keep you chuckling. The story and characters are very unpredictable, keeping each scenario Penny comes across as fresh. A fourth-wall-breaking narrator also bookends each chapter, giving Flipping Death an episodic feel.
As is to be expected, not all of the jokes land, but I’d still say a majority of Flipping Death’s comedic writing was well-crafted and has a charming and sometimes macabre wit to it. The weaker parts of writing are elevated by the visuals as well. Every character Penny runs into has a memorable design and personality, with the paper-thin visuals allow them to contort themselves in weird and funny ways.
Flatwood Peaks’ uncanny design is also full of extreme color and curves while still managing to be navigable. While The Otherside is a bit more muted and darker in its color choice, the creatures and ghosts within it still have the same odd but endearing designs to them. Flipping Death continually remains enjoyable to look at, and its comedic story is worth experiencing if you can get over some faults with the gameplay.
Flipping Death’s gameplay is equal parts adventure-puzzle game and platformer. Unfortunately, one side is much weaker than the other. Each of the game’s seven chapters follows a fairly basic formula, for Penny to find whatever she’s looking for, players have to assist a variety of ghosts so they could finally be at peace and pass on from The Otherside. Some were murdered, while others died while dressing up as Santa and climbing down a chimney for their daughter…
To complete a given task, Penny must platform around The Otherside, find the individual in the “real world” and possess them. To possess someone, players must collect one of three varieties of small ghosts that wander around the environment. Players can also throw Penny’s scythe and teleport to it for some added range. While these sections of the game are never difficult, the platforming still ends up being lackluster.
For how big of a character Penny is, she controls surprisingly light and loosely, which makes it a bit hard to judge some jumps. Some platforms are also way too small and are too easy to fall off of. The controls for scythe throwing are also a bit obtuse, so I avoided it outside of required situations. The Otherside’s design reflects Flatwood Peaks, which was designed to be less platforming heavy gameplay, meaning it doesn’t make the jump, for lack of a better word, to platformer flawlessly.
Once Penny finally possesses someone, things become much more akin to a comedy adventure-puzzle game like The Secret of Monkey Island. Once possessed, players can move around as the characters while also using up to two abilities based on their personality. From being able to hack computers, use spells, or just bark as a dog, Flipping Death consistently presents fresh ideas and unique gameplay elements to players. After processing someone, Penny can talk to the characters through their minds, and every character’s reaction to hearing voices in their head is usually very comical.
These characters’ abilities must then be used to complete some task that usually impacts The Otherside in some way. While Flipping Death does feature a helpful hint system, the game is clever and well-designed enough to guide players along without the help of these without any task feeling either too easy or insurmountable. Some sections even bring players into the past for a time-bending take on “interactive storytelling” in the game’s world and appeared at just the right moments to keep things interesting.
Flipping Death never sticks to one idea for too long when it comes to possession, but none of the ideas ever feel undercooked. The whole flipping mechanic is also very interesting to watch visually; it’s just a shame that one side of the paper is a clunky platformer while the other presents some exciting situations for players to work through.
My experience with Flipping Death on PS4 was also hampered by recurring technical problems, some of which required me to reload. At one point, all platforms in The Otherside glitched out on me, keeping me in a mid-jump animation and not allowing me to interact with anything. Characters limbs would also stretch out in ways they weren’t supposed to, even with the game’s elongated character designs.
There were also times when characters didn’t appear in the “real world” where they were supposed to, and other times where my characters would get stuck for a few seconds in objects they were interacting with, which hurt some of the physics-based puzzles. For a game about a month out from launch, technical issues are still surprisingly frequent and do hurt an otherwise fine game. Flipping Death is also quite short at under six hours in length, so these problems due stay memorable as they pop out somewhat frequently.
It’s unfortunate that the platforming and technical issues, as Flipping Death is otherwise pretty solid. As someone who likes comedic adventure-puzzle games, I fell in love with most of Flatwood Peaks sections when glitches didn’t get in the way. It’s just a shame that platform-focused parts of the game didn’t hold up as well for me just by design, not because they were demanding.
If you can get past some of Flipping Death’s jank, you will find a hilarious comedy game to you’ll want to see through. It liked the visuals and characters so much that I always wanted to see what or who Flipping Death would have me processes or do next. If the idea sounds interesting to you or the art style catches your eye, you’ll likely enjoy the game. Others will probably be turned off by the glitches and platforming sections.