From the off, something about Flipping Death caught my attention, whether it was the imaginative art style or brilliant sinister jazzy soundtrack, I had a feeling I’d like this game. Playing as Penny, a young lady with a penchant for the grisly and morbid, it’s your job to work out the mystery around your death after falling into a mysterious mausoleum. Waking up as a ghost in the afterlife, you soon find Death, who mistakenly enlists you as his temp cover so he can go on holiday (even Death needs a break, it seems!).
Along the way you’ll need to help various other ghosts in return for further clues to your demise. These characters are well written and acted, landing just the right side of overbearing for the most part. Their tales are often weird, sometimes esoteric but always engaging, from helping a tennis playing pirate’s offspring live up to his expectations, to retrieving the bones of soldiers eaten by a whale; everything delights and surprises throughout. Some of the solutions can be a bit baffling at first, but it’s here the main concept of the game comes in to play.
By collecting a currency of floating ghost critters, you are able to possess any of the living inhabitants on the literal flip side of the world. As you traverse, purple highlights point out living beings and using the currency, the level flips to the land of the living, enabling you to control the character to help solve puzzles in the underworld. All of these people (and animals) have a particular ability with which to interact with the environment, and it’s up to you to figure out who to use, and where.
From something as simple as putting out fires with a fire fighters extinguisher to using someone’s tongue to paint a boat, I always found myself smirking at the solutions, even if it took a leap of twisted imagination to get there. Thankfully, there is a hint system within the pause menu to alleviate some of the head scratching. Puzzles solved are grayed out so as to not mislead, which is a nice touch. The hints themselves take the form of a simple picture, usually with the character required and a rough location sketched out.
I found it great that it told you enough to set you off, but not flat out holding your hand. Once a character is unlocked, they can be teleported to for the remainder of the chapter too, further easing any frustration that may come about. Chapters are relatively short too, though optional challenges can help stretch this out, offering a general objective and leaving it up to you to find the solution. Art cards with character’s details are rewarded here, and it’s worth seeking them out as the writing is clever and funny, fleshing out the world that much more. The art in the game is fantastic too. All the characters are unique and wonderfully thought out.
Levels are played on a 2D pane, but several layers give the illusion of depth, much like a paper diorama, with characters folding and flipping as the turn around. Some intentionally wonky physics see them flail around as they move too. Using the Right stick, you can swing arms of trumpets or whatever the character has about, knocking scenery and people about. Depending on the action, characters will react favorably or negatively though, outside of an achievement and some optional challenges, I didn’t really see much use for this. There are also some physics puzzles, which while slight, proved to be the hardest part due to the sheer effort of getting them to work.
Using the aforementioned tennis player, attempting to hit the bowling ball (yes, bowling ball) in the desired spot was a case of attrition, and I really don’t know what I did to pass it that was any different than the previous attempts. But that really is the main detriment to the game, and it’s used so rarely that it did not affect my enjoyment beyond that. The music is great too, but there’s not much of it, meaning I had the various level’s themes playing in my head for a long time. Plus if you spend too long on a level it can get a bit tiresome. But again, it’s actually really good, and when some time has past, I’d even consider adding it to the playlist on my phone…one day.
An absolutely enjoyable puzzle platformer that has charm, style and enough funny, well written dialogue to propel a simple, yet effective story. Beautiful art and designs round out the package neatly, however, some poor physics-based puzzles and repetitive music lets the experience down a little. That said, it’s certainly worth a play through nevertheless.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.