Once upon a time, Flat Kingdom was in peril from the deadly chaos of 3D. The 2D world found itself on the brink of unwanted transformation and chaos, as 3D invaded and began to change the world from its wonderful sprite-li-ness into. . . something else. A powerful sorcerer finally saved the day by creating jewels that held the 3D transformations at bay. As long as the jewels were safe, so too was the Flat Kingdom.
Of course, peace never lasts. Enter a thief who has begun to steal the jewels for some dastardly purpose. And, wouldn’t you know it, he kidnapped the princess in the process. So now it’s up to our diminutive hero – Flat – to stop the thief, reclaim the jewels, and save the princess. A large task for one so small to be sure.
Flat Kingdom: Paper’s Cut Edition is a 2D platformer that utilizes a combination of 2D sprites and 3D geometry to craft its world. It’s more of a traditional 2D platformer than say, Paper Mario, with some light Metroidvania elements and a bit of item hunting thrown in.
Where Flat Kingdom distinguishes itself is in its novel approach to the gameplay, which utilises a shape-changing, rock-paper-scissors mechanic. Flat can transform into either a square, triangle, or circle – each with a unique set of abilities and special properties. In circle form, Flat can double jump and glide. As a square, Flat becomes heavy enough to sink to the bottom of lakes or oceans and can push heavy objects. Finally, as a triangle, Flat can dash and jump further. As is common in the genre, progression through the campaign nets you new abilities that help you effectively navigate the environment and defeat enemies.
Combat also utilises the rock-paper-scissors mechanic as each form is weak against another form: triangle can pop circle, square can beat triangle, and circle beats square. Combat is incredibly simple but the challenge comes in recognising which form the game’s enemies are weak against as, outside of the opening hours, enemy shapes become more visually complicated.
Boss fights fall into a similar rhythm, requiring that you first recognise patterns and survive a barrage of attacks, before a key weakness can be exploited – repeat until dead. Boss fights start off easy enough but get notably tougher as you go along.
The game’s platforming feels very traditional most of the time. When you’re not required to use one of Flat’s shapes abilities to overcome obstacles – such as throwing yourself like a shuriken at specific contacts when in triangle form – you’ll be double jumping, block-pushing, and switch-activating your way across the game world. Level design starts simple enough to get you used to swopping forms on the fly, before expanding in size, scope, and complexity.
Early on, I spotted paths I couldn’t get to without the right ability and sure enough, just before the final level, you’re required to backtrack and find a way to open up the path to said level with some new abilities that let you reach hidden areas.
As you progress, you’ll spot changes around you as 2D shapes pop into 3D, adding a sense of layered depth to each stage. At first, it’s just background objects, but soon platforms and huge parts of the landscape become 3D, leaving only Flat, the enemies and the backdrops as sprites.
For hoarders, the world is full of coins that you can use to buy yourself extra life hearts; lore, in the form of scrolls to discover; and, occasionally, an item to pick up to deliver to an NPC in the world for an extra heart.
Flat Kingdom‘s 2D art style is rather charming with some wonderful animations for Flat himself. I particularly enjoy the Road-Runner style animation used on Flat’s legs when dashing as a triangle. The 2D sprites, I feel, fare better than the game’s 3D elements, which are much simpler, in both geometric complexity and texture detail.
Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition doesn’t try to change up the platforming genre. What it does do well is provide a charming, breezy adventure that’s perfect for those lazy Sunday pick up and play sessions. It’s also the perfect type of game to introduce the young ‘uns to the hobby and genre.
Flat Kingdom Paper's Cut Edition (Switch) ReviewFlat Kingdom Paper's Cut Edition (Switch) Review
Gameplay8/10 Very Good
- Charming art style
- Rock-paper-scissors traversal and combat mechanics
- The 3D elements don’t hold up as well as the sprite work