What is it? A cute and frantic 60-player battle royale game show.
Expect to pay $20/£16
Publisher Devolver Digital
Reviewed on RTX 2080, Intel i7-9700K , 16GB RAM
Link Official site (opens in new tab)
My costume is half-astronaut, half-ballerina when someone else dressed as a full hotdog grabs the tail pinned to my butt and runs off with it. I swear, chase them, and make a last ditch dive to reclaim the tail as the clock expires. I miss and swear again. That hot dog just cost me the crown.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout may be adorable, silly, and simple to learn, but that doesn't mean it's a low-stakes game. Despite the party game vibe, it's still a battle royale. For most of the match I'm content to goof around, take reckless chances, and stop to celebrate with emotes before crossing the finish line. Getting ragdolled or shoved out of contention usually just makes me laugh. But as the end of the final round approaches I'm suddenly taking things seriously as hell. I may be a bean wearing a frilly pink tutu, but I want to win.
Each round of Fall Guys begins with 60 players rushing through an obstacle course in a chaotic mob of jumping, diving, whooping, and ragdolling bodies. Only the first 30 or so across the finish line qualify for the next round, which is randomly chosen from about two dozen different levels. Each level eliminates more players until the final round, where anywhere from a handful to more than a dozen compete to be the sole winner.
There are a few different types of levels. Races are the most common, and sometimes you'll engage in several footraces through various obstacle courses in the same match. The courses may have giant spinning fan blades to knock players back (or sideways, or even forward), ramps coated in slippery slime, spinning balance beams or vanishing floor tiles, walls that can be broken through (or that can't and will knock you back on your butt), or giant pieces of fruit tumbling down the course, knocking players aside like bowling pins unless you dart and dodge around them.
Fall Guys relies a little too heavily on these foot races. They're a good way to cut the crowd in half at the start of the match, but once I'd been through each of them a few times I learned to run the same routes and hope for the best.
More exciting are the levels that act as an endurance competition, like Block Party, where everyone stands on a platform together as a series of walls sweep across it, forcing players to jostle and shove their way through increasingly small gaps to avoid being knocked off. Making a dive through the gap at the last second is exciting, and getting bottlenecked in a kludge of wriggling, hooting competitors is hilarious.
Other levels divide players into teams to achieve a goal, and these team games are among the best in Fall Guys because they provide opportunities to delightfully sabotage the other team: Most events in Fall Guys have you running alongside other players, but in team modes there's a real benefit to messing with them, grabbing them, and disrupting their progress.
In Egg Scramble, teams fight over a pile of eggs in the center of the map, grabbing as many as they can and depositing them in their team's basket—and then trying to pilfer a few more from the other teams' baskets before time runs out. In another game teams push a giant ball down an obstacle course to the finish line, and you can run ahead to block your opponent's balls, making for a frantic shoving and grabbing match. The downside is that in team games, if you don't have friends with you in the match, you're solely relying on a group of strangers you can't communicate with. You can be having a great run but lose because the rest of your randomly selected teammates can't get it together.
But randomness works for Fall Guys. It's so silly and breezy that if I'm eliminated because of shabby teammates, or if I get bonked into a pit because someone else blundered into a spinning fan and flew into me, I just laugh and shrug and queue up for another match. It's only in the final round where I care enough to swear. Damn that hot dog to hell.
Fall Guys is best in small doses, and an hour of play a day is enough for several boisterous matches before I begin to tire of all the similar foot races. But that hour is usually great fun mixed with some delicious tension in the finals. It's an impressive feat to make a game so charmingly silly that's still filled with genuinely dramatic moments, heartbreaking losses, and last-second acrobatic feats.
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