Whether it’s beating 12 other players in a neon pink and green variation of Total Wipeout’s chaotic spinner or climbing a mountain of dangerous obstacles to claim the game-winning golden crown, it’s clear from the first hour of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Mediatonic has created a truly unique take on battle royale. Gone are the big guns, the slow tightening of border circles, and the vast reams of tiered loot, replaced by the lavish colors and courses of game shows like Takeshi’s Castle and It’s a Knockout.
Of course, at first it seems like a short-term gimmick; Battle royale, after all, has become a genre primarily focused on skill-based gameplay while Fall Guys focuses more on luck and fun. But the most impressive takeaway after playing a few hours of Devolver Digital’s latest independent hit is that it has the legs to grow into a game that – with a little fine-tuning and a few big additions – could carve out quite a bit popular, long running. niche for itself in the coming years.
While many have no doubt seen Fall Guys’ basic premise throughout the flurry of viral videos and social media posts during its recent beta phase, the concept is pretty simple. The player, along with 59 other hopeful online opponents, will take on the role of a wobbly, pill-shaped creature looking to fight his way to become the last anthropomorphic jellybean standing. Of course, it won’t be easy, as the game puts them through a series of colorful chaotic events inspired by some of the most iconic physical game shows on TV.
The catch is that Fall Guys’ weird mascots aren’t exactly the most interesting avatars, and will slip, slide, crash, and fall into each other and themselves without much warning. With little more than a jump, dive, and grab button at the player’s disposal, there’s not much to do to avoid getting stuck in the game’s anarchic series of scrums and mobs. It can be frustrating, even maddening to make it to the final stages of a difficult battle only for an oddly placed obstacle to completely kill a chance at the crown, but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice for Fall Guys to offer such an unpredictable, fun experience. . It feels like anyone can steal a win on any given day and that’s a rare feeling for a modern battle royale to offer.
It also helps that its lineup of 24 courses is distributed evenly, making it rare to encounter the same lineup of levels on a subsequent playthrough. Even better, players can jump back into a game within seconds (if Fall Guys isn’t suffering from the now-infrequent series of connection issues) meaning there’s little penalty for not qualifying. Clocking in at around 2 minutes each, the series of mini-tournaments are, for the most part, a lot of fun too, with the standouts so far being the Slime Climb and Hex-A-Gone.
The first sees players climb a difficult obstacle course while trying to avoid a river of pink slime that is slowly but surely engulfing the map, while also making sure to navigate around swarms of other players that accidentally knocks them out of the way. Everyone who makes it to the Slimb Climb’s finish line moves on to the next level, however, everyone who falls into the slime below is booted out, making this a decently challenging contest capable of dramatically shaking up the entire Fall Guys run .
Alternatively, Hex-A-Gone is one of three final challenges given to players as they duke it out for first place. Other offerings are somewhat anti-climactic final hurdles for a hard-fought contest. Death Mountain is a one-sided race that heavily favors whoever starts at the front of the pack and the Royal Fumble feels unbalanced because the winner is whoever can get the elusive “golden tail” in the last 3 seconds. Hex-A-Gone, on the other hand, always feels like a tense final encounter for any Fall Guys run, which sees players having to sprint through several layers of gradually disappearing platforms until only one contestant left. This opens up a whole toolbox of fun tactics that can be used, where players try to destroy platforms in front of rivals to send them to their doom and slowly jump between hexagons to extend the volume of time they can spend on any given layer.
Alongside this pair of short, addictive levels are many other powerful offerings. The colorful Dizzy Heights sees players traversing perilous directional-based turntables, the channeled, time focused sprint of Gate Crash forces them to make split decisions while being chased by opponents, and the perilous Jump club’s spinning arm is an awesome throwback to Total Wipeout.
Still, it’s clear that Fall Guys has something to work on. One of the biggest issues is team games, which, depending on how lucky the player is, have a chance to make or break their run, regardless of whether they’re the MVP or completely AFK. Midway through most Fall Guys shows, the entire player base will be split into two or three teams and forced to compete in a cooperative mini-game. Rocket League-inspired soccer complete with giant balls cuts through, along with a storage level that sees players push spheres into their respective zones and a tournament where three teams jump into hoops to collect points.
The games are mostly fun but feel like the opposite of what Fall Guys is trying to be: a free-for-all, last-man-standing experience. Perhaps Fall Guys will segment them into a separate squad-based game mode down the line, but for now, they can be one of the most infuriating ways to lose a round when several teammates is not getting loose.
Some games – while well thought out in theory – also feel unbalanced. See Saw is perhaps the best known of the bunch, with a mode that sees players navigate a road made entirely of physics-based playground objects. Those at the front of the pack when the race starts are lucky. They just have to run across a series of horizontal platforms and dash for the finish line. Meanwhile, behind them, players deal with a hellscape of 90-degree platforms as far as the eye can see, with opponents refusing to cooperate to rebalance the seesaws and turn the tournament into a chaotic, mind-numbing mess. Tip Toe has the same imbalance issues, with players not wanting to explore the map to find the secret passage to the end due to being impractical and crowded instead of trying to push each other. Meanwhile, Perfect Match has to be harder because it’s a simplistic memory game that fails to take players out consistently.
However, all of these issues will surely be ironed out in future updates, and with Fall Guys proudly sporting a “season 1” tag on its homepage, it’s clear that there’s more to come. In the meantime, here’s a refreshing breather from the onslaught of battle royale shooters currently dominating the market, with lovely colorful visuals, lively soundtracks, and easy-to-pick-up gameplay making it a splash of life in a more mundane and repetitive. genres. As the game it’s based on shows, Fall Guys isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, and there are few multiplayer experiences out there that wholeheartedly put approachable, fun front-end.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is available now for PC and PlayStation 4. Today Technology was provided the PC code for this review.