PAX East 2017: Flipping Death Preview

Originally published on Trevor Trove on March 17, 2017

Flipping Death was another of those games that stood out from the Nindies event as a notably different tone for a game being highlighted by Nintendo. Featuring a character who begins the game by dying struck me as a bit macabre (though I suppose Guacamelee! From Drinkbox Studios wound up on the Wii U with a similar opening). But the game’s mechanic of flipping between the world of the living and the world of the dead (also like Guacamelee!) had me intrigued so I set up an appointment at PAX East to check it out.

The demo featured the newly dead Penny just getting her bearings. Equipped with a scythe that can be used as a weapon or thrown and teleported to for longer platforming jumps, Penny is able to wander the world of the dead. She can collect little spirits and use them as a currency of sorts to unlock characters from the world of the living to possess. Once unlocked, Penny can take over their body in the living world. Different characters have different “abilities” that can be utilized to help Penny achieve her objectives.

In this instance, Penny was tasked with painting a boat. This meant first identifying the paint, which was attached to a building. Possessing a character allowed me to trigger a switch that dropped the barrel to the ground but there was no way to reach it. So the next part of the puzzle took me back to the world of the dead where I realized the barrel was (in the dead world) a monster and if I got the monster to move, the barrel moved in the world of the living. There was a path of little winged spirits that I had to attack and use as bait to move the barrel monster along but eventually, I got it to a spot where a big ghost hand clamped down on it, locking it in place for me in the living world. Then I just needed to figure out how to access the paint and get it on the boat.  

It was at this point I was incredibly glad I had arrived early for my appointment and seen a person ahead of me solve the puzzle. I imagine I would have been stuck there at least twice as long possessing a bunch of the other villagers that did absolutely nothing in this puzzle. Like the solutions to point-and-click adventure games like those of Double Fine, Flipping Death plays up the humor and the obscure. In fact, one of my biggest takeaways was the idea that this game, with its humor and art style, feels like a Double Fine game that traded in the point-and-click adventure with platforming puzzles. So congrats to the team at Zoink Games for that. It’s something I look forward to spending some more time with down the line.

Flipping Death is coming soon to the Nintendo Switch and other platforms.

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