First Impressions – Flipping Death (Nintendo Switch)

Games that feature dark comedy are not what you’d call “easy” to pull off and sell to the general population… blending gameplay with humor isn’t the issue, but focusing the game’s theme entirely on a comedic style and presentation can be. Zoink Games has done this in the past with their title Stick It to The Man!, but repeating that kind of success can be a challenge.

Flipping Death, however, is meant to more or less be a spiritual successor to the aforementioned title, with the same writer returning to add his particular brand of zany magic, and it shows.

The game begins dark and continues from there, as you play the recently-deceased Penny, now a temporary reaper just getting a handle on her new powers. The setting is an afterlife called the Otherwise, but flips between this area and a small town filled with the living.

Conceptually, the game does exactly what the title tells you it does—you flip between the afterlife and real life, taking control of living people, possessing them and moving them around to accomplish various tasks. The possession concept felt similar to the game Stacking from Double Fine, but the similarities end there as the comedy and the art styles are drastically different.

In the demo, Penny had a series of tasks to perform in order to unlock each successive “body.” A certain number of souls must be harvested before she can take over, and once that happens, the “living” person flails around, commenting on their out-of-control behavior.

Once you’ve gotten used to the control scheme causing the possessed body to shamble and flail, it’s on to the puzzle. The demo’s puzzle task seemed simple enough: The ghost of a captain in the Otherside can’t move on until his beloved boat gets painted the way he’d always wanted. As Penny, you then possess a character to head to the paint factory to activate the lever that will produce the blue paint. But none of the characters in the area can just pick up the paint (recall: flailing limbs), so your next task is to get the paint to the boat.

This is where things start to get interesting, challenging, and at times frustrating. Unfortunately, when this writer was playing the demo, none of the booth attendants were willing to offer assistance (they were busy with their phones or chatting with other booth attendants from the next stall over), so ultimately I only completed half the demo and then had to come back to watch the rest. And no, the booth was not full. There were only two other con-goers playing on the other system. I mention this as a reminder to anyone attending cons and demoing new games: Pay attention to your booth and the people in it. I left with a bad taste in my mouth that had nothing to do with the game and everything to do with your company and how you treat your player base. Let me assure you, this does not help sales.

But, all that aside, on with the demo.

How to get the paint to the boat? Flip to the Otherside, where the can of paint has become a giant, blue monster that feeds on little winged skulls that fly around the area. Your scythe then must be used to knock away some of the critters, leading the monster through the level to a giant ghost hand that secures the monster in place.

Then flip to the world of the living, find a dentist to possess, use his drill to puncture the paint can and cause a leak which coats the grave of a late lollipop champion’s grave which then requires you to possess a lollipop-obsessed man inside the chapel who will lick the grave with his tongue (stay with me, here) which will then give you the paint needed to use the man’s tongue as a paintbrush for the boat.

That’s all.

As you can tell, there were several points when I could have used some assistance and explanation from the booth attendants. Given more time, the puzzle could have been solved (on a lazy Sunday afternoon, sitting on the couch in pajamas, for example), because all the clues are right there in your environment and surroundings. The game forces you to explore and then remember what you’ve seen and heard, so that you can later use each element when you need it.

The only real negative here was that the characters tended to repeat the same phrases over and over, and when you’re in a world where experimentation is encouraged—and you’re going to be trying similar solutions with different tweaks until you solve the puzzle—that repetition can get annoying to the point of wanting to turn the sound off the television. And I was only in that small demo area for a short time.

But, perhaps you have a greater ability to tolerate repeated dialogues, in which case you’ll have no problem. Once you get past that, the visuals for Flipping Death are colorful, cartoonist, and absurd. It has that unsettling, uncanny aspect to the artwork that suits the subject matter, making it both visually appealing and mildly uncomfortable to look at. That said, the scenery itself did provide the occasional aggravation, because it was sometimes difficult to tell which bits were platforms to move across and which spots were just background art.

Overall, the experience was intriguing enough to convince me that I’d like to check out more of this game. If you enjoy dark humor and challenging, bizarre puzzles where the sense is always non, this game should be on your radar. It releases sometime later this year.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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