Can’t Help Falling In Love

HIGH An interesting shake-up in the battle royale genre.

LOW That stupid, stupid slide that caused me to curse my poor friend out over party chat.

WTF I had way more falling puns for the tagline.

I’m not what most would call a ‘skilled’ player. The truth is, I’m pretty bad at most games, even though I love them.

My latest obsession has been highly competitive online shooters (which again, I am not great at) but Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout might be the thing to break me out of them because it’s built on the idea that a slight miscalculation can throw the results of an entire match off — it drives me crazy in other titles, but it becomes something great here.

The gist of Fall Guys is that sixty players are put into a server and are subject to some of the wildest competitive events imaginable. Players are slowly eliminated, and the last player standing at the end wins a crown — it’s like battle royale without guns.

Each of the events feels like a segment from a wacky Japanese game show — one may involve balancing on platforms like a see-saw on a playground, another might make players find the correct tiles to step on to avoiding falling off a stage, and one has players collecting tails and seeing who can hold onto them for the longest time.

The strength of Fall Guys is in its variety. Seeing dozens of different events is a treat despite a few of them like The Whirlygig (a mode in which players have to dodge a rotating propeller) that have me actively screaming over party chat.

The one that really tested my patience was the Gate Crash. Here, players have to reach the end of an obstacle course, and along the way are gates that move up and down, halting progress. Timing is key and it all ends in a giant slide that leads to the finish line. Between the slide and the end are three more gates that go up and down and a large gap. The number of times I have misjudged that jump and hit the gate is… too many to count.

Other hair-pulling moments include things like other players waiting at the end of a course who knock competitors back before they can move on to the next round, or taking one wrong step in any mode involving floating platforms, but losing is its own brand of enjoyment in Fall Guys, and I have never been so frustrated at a game that I wanted to keep playing. Sure, it might have been out of spite at times, but I had to prove that I could get through it and win a crown at the end.

Apart from the entertainment of simply playing, there’s some motivation to keep falling in a progression system where players can earn cosmetic items and in-game currency. “Kudos”, one of the in-game currencies, can be bought with real money but can also be earned in-game. All of the options are cosmetic and do not affect gameplay, but I’m curious to see what the staying power of Fall Guys will be once the initial rush of new players wears off.

Fall Guys takes a bit of skill, a lot of dumb luck and a truckload of frustration, mixes it all together and produces one of the most imaginative multiplayer experiences around. Sure, I still might suck at online games but it’s never felt this good to be so bad.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by Devolver Digital and developed by Mediatonic. It is available on PS4 and PC. This copy was obtained via free download and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to multiplayer. There is no single-player.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E for Mild Cartoon Violence. This game is a bit like watching a physical game show like Wipeout, Ultimate Beastmaster, Ninja Warrior any of those similar to them. It’s a bit over-the-top, but nothing objectionable for young audiences here.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Instructions are given to players before each game in text and all gameplay cues are visual. There are no audio cues necessary for gameplay. This game is perfectly accessible. 

Remappable Controls: No, the game does not offer remappable controls or a control diagram. There is a menu that shows what each button does in each minigame, however. The camera axis cannot be changed.

Cj Salcedo
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