Developer Zoink Games (Stick it to the Man) is back with another extremely original and hilarious game, Flipping Death. As soon as I saw the announcement trailer I knew it was something I had to play. After continually bugging the wonderful folks over there at Zoink, I was able to get a copy and spent an entire weekend engrossed in this unique game, completing it and even going back for things I missed, something I rarely do. Yes, it’s that good.
The story of Flipping Death takes place in a little town called Flatwood Peaks. Here we meet Penny, working at a funeral home, and watch as she is fired for her outrageous behavior. While hoping to do some smooching with her boyfriend in the local graveyard, she ends up falling to her death as the mausoleum floor she is standing in collapses. Crap luck huh? She wakes to find herself a ghost and quickly runs into Death himself. He seems to think she is there to relieve him for his first ever vacation. Setting his sights on some time away on the moon (the only place nobody has ever died) he hands over his cloak and scythe and bounces out of there like a Super Fun Ball.
With her new found power Penny soon learns she can still interact with the world of the living still by taking possession of the local inhabitants. Flipping Death’s gameplay mechanics require the player to guide Penny around each chapter’s area, “flipping” between worlds. In death she collects resources needed to possess the living and talks to the ghostly inhabitants. Once inside a new body, she can read their mind (always do this for a chuckle and some insight into what to do next), make them walk, jump, and use some unique ability each have to solve various puzzles or tasks. This aspect reminded me of the PC adventure games of old in some ways, like Monkey Island and King’s Quest. These objectives are required to be done in a certain order in most cases, changing the landscape, and helping the living and dead alike. Once all the objectives of the chapter are met, the story continues.
Beyond the adventure based aspects, Flipping Death plays like a side scrolling platformer. Penny can throw her scythe in any direction with the right analog stick and then quickly teleport to it, a must for reaching certain areas. While possessing the living, each will have some ability that you can also activate by moving the right analog stick, sometimes its obvious where you can put that ability to good use, other times you may need the very helpful “hints” section in the pause menu. Flipping Death doesn’t try to be overly challenging, and it is one of the many things I love about it. It never hands you the answer to moving forward but the pictures in the hints are great if you need a clue, showing you what needs to happen, not how to make it happen necessarily.
Graphically Flipping Death is very similar to Stick it to the Man, using a 2D cardboard cut-out looking aesthetic. The art design is also similar and I simply adore it. Every character is kooky and amusing to look at. The area designs are intricate and include all sorts of fun things to laugh about. It does look way more polished, but doesn’t lose any of the charm, something I have seen happen when an indie developer spends too much time cleaning up unique visuals from a previous game. Also there is much more replayability than I expected, as I am working on my second playthrough I keep finding more and more things I missed that make me chuckle.
Voice acting in Flipping Death is some of the best I have ever seen in an indie game. Every character has a quirky voice that fits perfectly and this makes the jokes and puns that much more hilarious. Seriously, read everyone’s mind, if you don’t laugh, you may be deader inside than the ghosts you encounter. The music is catchy, fun, and dark at the same time. Very Danny Elfman-like. In fact, any fan of Tim Burton films will love Flipping Death for its unique music, art, and story.
Zoink knocked it out of the park with Flipping Death. It’s use of humor, quirky graphics, problem solving mechanics, unique platforming, amazing writing, and wonderful voice acting and soundtrack make it the best game they have produced to date. It is definitely a contender for my favorite indie title of 2018. If you enjoy dark humor and respect developers who make games that are unique, you should love Flipping Death. Pick it up and support this company, because I for one am looking forward to what they do next. No matter what, it will surely be interesting and different than anything a big publisher is doing these days, and that is fantastic!