Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition is a gorgeous 2D platformer with a surprising amount of depth hidden in its origami folds.
Title: Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition
Release Date: April 1, 2022
Suggested Audience Age: Everyone 10+
Time to Play: 5 Hours, according to HowLongToBeat.com
Availability: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, Steam
Recommended for fans of: Classic Mario, crafting, and quirkiness
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
I associate papercraft visuals in video games with the Paper Mario series so heavily that a glance at Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition had me assuming it was going to be some sort of roleplaying game. Instead, I found a super solid 2D platformer. The core mechanic is super cool, and it's interwoven into both traversal and combat.
Paper with Character
The entire world of Flat Kingdom is crafted out of paper. You play as Flat, a soldier tasked with saving the kingdom after a thief steals a jewel. The missing jewel causes parts of the 2D world to erupt into 3D origami constructions, which is obviously very bad.
Okay look, the story in this game didn’t click with me at all. I’m not sure that I understood it at the first pass, and I absolutely forgot any details that explained it as soon as I put the game down. It doesn’t really matter since this is very much a gameplay-oriented game, but the plot falls pretty flat.
Anyway, you set out as flat with one basic ability that gives you everything you need to conquer the game: the ability to change your shape.
Putting Shapes into Action
Throughout Flat Kingdom you’ll transform between a circle, square, and triangle. The square shape makes you heavy and slow, the circle has a higher jump, and the triangle can run quickly across the screen. Each of these feels unique, almost like choosing between the different playable characters in Super Mario Bros. 2, except that you’ll need to do it constantly in this game.
To get across a wide gap you may run and jump as the triangle, then have to switch to the circle to double jump to a higher ledge. Jumping onto a sticky flower as the square bends the stem way down, then transforming into the triangle can launch you over a pit of spikes. As the game progresses you unlock even more ways to link these abilities, like sprinting as the triangle and then turning into the square to slam through a wall like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.
On top of their utility for conquering Flat Kingdom’s platforming challenges, the different shapes are essential for the game's combat. Instead of hopping onto enemies like so many Goombas and Koopas, every encounter in this game calls for careful consideration. Each enemy that approaches you is roughly circle, square, or triangle shaped. Touching a circular enemy as a triangle will pop them, while square enemies can’t stand your circle form, and triangular enemies get crushed by the square.
It’s not too tough to get used to the combat, at which point enemies are about as much of danger here as they are in any other platformer. Some enemies take a few hits, like blocking a crab's triangular claws before hitting their round bodies, but for the most part, progression becomes pretty straightforward pretty quickly.
At the end of each level, there’s a boss fight, which usually combines some platforming elements with switching up shapes for combat. There’s some very cool design here (a battle against a sort of Kraken was particularly cool), but mechanically these were often more frustrating in their difficulty spike than anything else.
I don’t think that Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition is going to be a standout contender as the greatest platformer of all time, but it’s absolutely worth a look. It’s got a great sense of style and a super interesting mechanic that keeps both platforming and combat interesting. The levels are also well designed, and much longer than I’m used to seeing in these smaller platforming games. Other games stole my attention away from this game, but it’ll definitely be one I pop back into from time to time, just to see what new ideas it unfolds.