Every now and then a video game bubbles to the top, floating past those bid budget heavy hitters on a colourful cloud of playful charm. Fall Guys is one such game and when it was first revealed last year by Mediatonic and the ever-zany Devolver Digital, it was love at first sight.
The oft-repeated elevator pitch for Fall Guys is a daft and accessible battle royale bonanza that will remind older gamers of the crazy (and somewhat exploitative) television show, Takeshi’s Castle. Seriously, Devolver, can we get a Craig Charles announcer pack please?
In Fall Guys each match starts with 60 blubbery contestants, but there can only be one winner as you run a randomised gauntlet of challenges. These can be split into two categories: your traditional free-for-all Fall Guys modes such as races, and more objective-based team games.
What Fall Guys manages to nail is that accessibility factor. Using only one stick and three buttons, there’s an immediate simplicity to the controls, though it will take a few matches to get a grip with how the Fall Guys move and react within the game’s physics. There’s a clumsy bounciness to these chubby fellows as they jump and dive about, occasionally grabbing onto each other and various objects.
The most common game mode in Fall Guys is a race to the finish line, but these aren’t a simple straight-line sprint from point A to B. Each one is its own obstacle course tagged with slime trails, shifting platforms, swinging pendulums, and various other hazards. It’s always a made dash to get to the finish, as the game only lets an ever diminishing number of finishers qualify from each round.
The weekend’s technical beta gave us more opportunity to see the team games, though, and these will see an entire losing team get rubbed out. One of them splits the play area into three sections, belonging to teams of the corresponding colour. As giant footballs fall from the sky, you must butt and bash them into your zone, the losing team having the fewest balls when the timer expires. Another similar game replaced these balls with eggs which can be thrown and carried, leading to some frenzied melees as the clock counts down. Another challenge has three teams pot around an obstacle course, diving through rings as they appear to score points.
Although accessible, those who have a knack for 3D platformers will have an edge when it comes to playing Fall Guys. That said, there’s a randomness to the various modes and courses that helps level the playing field, and with 25 levels at launch, there will be plenty of variety to what you see.
Mediatonic don’t mess about when it comes to getting their hooks in. Win or lose, you can dive into another match almost straight away, Fall Guys featuring a seasonal battle pass progression system to keep you coming back for more. This track is loaded with a number of rewards including emotes, patterns, costumes, faceplates, and other cosmetics as well as Kudos – a currency spent on buying certain items you have your eye on.
Tied up in such a cheeky, vibrant package, Fall Guys has the makings of a true multiplayer marvel and one that touts slapstick silliness over a constant barrage of blood and bullets. We’ll be throwing ourselves into this mad little game on launch day – it’s coming to PS4 and PC on 4th August – and we’ll surely be grinning from ear to ear as we do.