In a room with three close friends, Gang Beasts is hilarious fun. We’re talking side-splitting laughs as four podgy pugilists thump, headbutt, and tug each other across a series of simple yet perilous maps.
Being unwieldy is all part of the fun. It’s hard to wrap your head around at first, tussling with the deliberately clumsy movement while fumbling at a combat system that feels as though it was inspired by Octodad. There’s a certain knack to it, however, though the frenzied flurry of punches, throws, and various obstacles helps to maintain a somewhat even playing field.
You’ll guffaw as your friends tumble to their deaths in a manner of stupid, slapstick ways. It’s even funnier watching them cling onto ledges, objects, and other players, hoping they can climb their way back to safety or at least take someone down with them.
If you don’t have a small group of friends to play with then you may as well not bother with Gang Beasts. Even if you’re able to hook up and play online then you’re only getting a sliver of the full experience.
The game has no tailored singleplayer content whatsoever. Sure, you can launch into matches, but you’ll be there, on your own, running around an empty map. And while there is a wave-based survival mode, it’s clearly been built with four players in mind, the AI goons outnumbering you from the word go.
As for online multiplayer, it feels ropey even when at its best. And that’s when you can actually find a game to join. Besides, connecting four silent strangers from across the globe feels soulless and way too competitive. That’s not what Gang Beasts is about.
However, that’s not what baffles me the most. Minus some added bells and whistles, the core game hasn’t changed much at all since I first played it with friends back in 2014. There are new stages, sure, and plenty of options to outfit your own character though, fundamentally, nothing has changed in those three or so years.
That time certainly wasn’t spent on making Gang Beasts any more viable for solo players. Nor did developers Boneloaf create a tutorial – hell, there isn’t even a menu option that shows the game’s controller layout. But at least you can play as Ricky and Morty so that’s… nice.
For those who have been following the game since long before it’s PlayStation 4 announcement, Gang Beasts really does come as a poisoned chalice. Its meathead multiplayer melees will light up your living room for hours on end, yet when there’s only one person in the hot seat, it loses that charm almost completely.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4