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Flat Kingdom: Paper’s Cut Edition Review

Flat Kingdom

Although it’s been around on PC since 2016, Flat Kingdom has now made its way to console in the form of Flat Kingdom: Paper’s Cut Edition.

Our guest reviewer really enjoyed Flat Kingdom back in 2016, rating it a rather high 8 out of 10. Sadly, our own experience with the game hasn’t been quite so positive. Sure, there are some nice ideas here, but ultimately Flag Kingdom feels clunky and at times, tedious. It’s not all bad, though: this is a £6.49/$7.99 game after all. And so, you get what you paid for.

Flat Kingdom casts you as a shapeshifting hero. Starting out as a circular fellow, a touch of a button can turn you into a square, while another button will transform you into a triangle. It’s a mechanic upon which the entire game is built. You see, enemies come in the form of one of those shapes and, like a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, you’ll need to defeat it with the corresponding form of your own.

Triangle beats circle, circle beats square, and square beats triangle. So if you see an enemy trundling towards you that looks remotely triangular in shape, you’ll want to transform into a square. Jumping into it is enough to defeat it; there are no weapons here. Providing you can remember what shape trumps what, Flat Kingdom‘s combat doesn’t provide any real challenge. And if you do struggle to remember, you can head into the options and affix a handy little diagram to the bottom of your screen.

The trouble with changing shapes is that each one moves differently. Square, being the beefiest of all the shapes, moves slowly and can’t jump very high. Circle moves at a steady pace, and can double jump. Triangle moves very quickly, but despite its nimbleness, it still can’t jump as high as circle. And so, circle will likely become your default position while playing Flat Kingdom due to how often you need to utilise double-jump.

Along with changing your shape for the sake of combat, you’ll also need to switch forms in order to puzzle through some areas of the environment. You might need to push a block for example, which only square can do. Or you might need to be flung from a magical flower; in this case, you need to – deep breath – double jump as circle, land on it with square, then change to triangle to get flung across the screen. Or circle if you need to gain height. Admittedly, it’s not as complex as it sounds, and you’ll soon get used to what Flat Kingdom asks of you.

The trouble is… there’s not really much else to it. Continually changing forms quickly gets old, and trundling through a level at a fairly slow pace soon feels tedious. Levels also feel poorly planned out, as you’ll frequently be met with frustrating jumps that you can only just make, or you’ll come across ravines that you aren’t sure if you’re supposed to jump into or over. As you play, you’ll unlock new abilities for each of your forms which at least do add a bit of variety, but they’re not really enough to truly mix up the gameplay.

In its favour, Flat Kingdom‘s environments do look pleasant, if not a little basic. At its best, everything feels like it’s made of papercraft, with cut-out shapes layered on top of each other to create a rich and vibrant effect. In some areas – like the outdoors, with backdrops filled with trees and hills – it really shines. But in other areas, such as underground caves, it’s instead rather bland.

But let’s return to that retail price of just £6.49/$7.99. For the price of two cups of coffee, you’ve got an indie platforming adventure that offers up several hours of entertainment. Flat Kingdom may be a little clunky, sure, but it’s not broken – and if you’re a fan of simple side-scrolling platforming, you might find something to enjoy here. It’s not going to light your world on fire in any way, but there are certainly worse games out there.

Flat Kingdom: Paper’s Cut Edition Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Flat Kingdom is based on the PS5 version, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.