Flipping Death Review: Scythe Life

  • First Released Aug 6, 2018
  • PC

Death at its most fun.

Despite its focus on death and the afterlife, Flipping Death is a charming and wholesome adventure. Its zany and often eccentric characters bring the well-paced story to life with fantastic voice acting and a gorgeous 2D art style. Despite some frustrating platforming elements, its campy humor and satisfying puzzle mechanics make it a delightful journey throughout.

Flipping Death puts you in the shoes of the recently departed Penny, a young girl who is accidentally thrown into the job of covering for Death. The role turns out to be rather elaborate, and you’re quickly tasked with helping ghosts resolve their unfinished business. In addition, you’ll have to help the wonderfully sassy Penny attempt to figure out how to return to the world of the living.

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In order to give these dead folk a hand and solve various puzzles, you’ll be frequently switching between the worlds of the dead and living by using your trusty scythe to possess mortals and take advantage of their special abilities. Some actions need to happen in one world before the other and vice versa, such as using a person's extraordinarily long tongue in the world of living to paint the boat of a deceased captain, or using a doctor's set of defibrillators to bring a recently passed ghost back to life. You'll need to constantly flip between the two worlds and experiment with character abilities in order to find the right solutions.

Although a majority of solutions are distinct, the repetition of a few mechanics makes some puzzles predictable towards the end of the game. But at the same time, there are some that require a few too many flips in order to figure out the absurd logic behind the game’s ludicrous world. One such puzzle requires a young girl to fall down a chimney to be covered in ash, and in her new darkened state scare a fireman watching horror movies--literally to death--so he can then come to the afterlife and put out the fire on top of a ghost's head. There is a hint system which can help you when you hit a roadblock, but the clues aren’t very subtle and don’t leave much left for you to figure out. However, seeing these strange events play out is enjoyable for the spectacle alone.

The possession mechanic means it’s easy to get sidetracked, testing each ability on other characters and the environment to see what odd results occur--which is convenient because that’s exactly what you’ll need to do to complete the wacky side challenges in each chapter and unlock Ghost Cards. These collectible cards give a pleasant layer of insight into the lives of the ghosts you’re trying to help and mortals you’ve been manipulating.

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And the interactions you have with each character, whether it be with the awkward police officer who lacks confidence or the local “superhero” whose power is to literally just poke people, are silly and humorous. It’s hard not to smile at all the bizarre situations they get themselves into. It helps that the voice acting is performed well, with every line delivered with a devotion and passion that makes sure there’s never a dull moment, as well as ensuring the humor lands. Some jokes can be overplayed, but for the most part, I was chuckling from beginning to end, and it was always a joy to meet a new set of characters.

Penny herself seemingly embodies the voice of every person who has played a point-and-click adventure game, as she's constantly questioning and being bewildered by each character's thoughts and actions. Acting as a foil to the many antics happening around her, she provides much of the humor and is a rather refreshing protagonist. She keeps the story engaging through each chapter with her smart quips and unyieldingly sassy personality.

The world of Flipping Death also feels lovingly crafted, filled with intricate details and diverse color palettes that bring each scene and character to life like a magnificent puppet show. The sprawling environments of Flatwood Peaks are occasionally reimagined to tell the story in interesting and unexpected ways, and a fast-travel system helps to make sure backtracking never feels like too much of a chore. A diverse instrumental soundtrack also accompanies your adventures, filling in the quieter moments but never intruding or distracting from conversations or puzzle solving.

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The one area where Flipping Death really falls flat is when you’re forced into annoying platforming sections in order to collect wandering souls and other odd currencies required to possess each character. These sections feel as if they exist solely to pad out the story and act as a break from puzzles, but the game’s controls aren’t accurate or satisfying enough for them to be any fun. Platforming quickly becomes an annoying gatekeeper that stops you from continuing to enjoy the rest of the game.

Flipping Death's logic is sometimes too ridiculous for its own good, and frustrating platforming sections add some tarnish. But the game’s silly puzzles, self-aware humor, and crazy characters still make a wonderful experience filled with plenty of chuckles, which help to leave you satisfied as the credits roll.

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The Good

  • Humorous story and lovable characters
  • Smart puzzle design and fun extra challenges
  • Gorgeous art style and an intricately detailed world
  • Brilliant voice acting brings each character to life

The Bad

  • Some puzzles are too ridiculous for their own good
  • Frustrating platforming mechanics

About the Author

Seamus spent six hours exploring the town of Flatwood Peaks and messing with every mortal resident he could using a Steam code provided by the developer. Already missing the lovable characters of Flipping Death, he thinks he’ll need to go back and collect each Ghost Card before he can move on to the next adventure game.