The perfect party game is an ever-transforming entity. It's a real flavour of the month vibe for me and my pals, constantly hunting for the next great videogame to get drunk and cause chaos in for a few nights. Our current target? Party Animals, a game that's like Gang Beasts if it had a bigger development budget and monetisable furry friends instead of vaguely human-shaped blobs.
It's one of those games where you're not only fighting each other, but fighting the intentionally janky physics and control scheme. It's all well and good trying to march across a stage to punch my pal right in their stupid furry face, but half the battle is getting over there to do it in the first place. Even when we've finally squared up, a flurry of fists fire out in every direction except towards each other, desperately rotating while we dance around each other punching the air before a third friend blazes in off-screen and takes us both out with a flying kick.
Being able to pummel the crap out of your pals is a joy in itself, sure, but something I hadn't banked on was how great Party Animals could be when you squad up and take on randoms online. The game has 2v2 and free-for-all modes that take place across a multitude of stages and follow the Gang Beasts formula more closely, but there's also a 4v4 mode with more specific goals that go beyond punching the fluff outta one another. These include a Rocket League-esque football map that has you punching and fly-kicking a giant ball around a pitch, and another where you launch explosives (and each other) across a river using a trebuchet to try and take the other team out.
My favourite 4v4 map involves two side-by-side trains that require you to load coal into your own while hopping over to the other train and stop your opponents from doing the same by any means necessary. Grab them and attempt to throw them onto the tracks below. Pummel them until they crumble with one of Party Animal's various weapons, or simply hold onto them while they writhe around trying to free themselves.
Partied too hard
5The first order of business as any squad is deciding on your representing attire. In this case that was which animal we would pick. There are geese, gorillas, alligators, Garfields and all sorts to choose from. They're great, sure, but then there's Carrot. A bunny rabbit with a thousand-yard stare. A fluffy and adorable exterior that hides a murderous interior. The perfect mascot for our not-so-quietly chaotic crew.
With our fuzzy fiend chosen, the next order of business is a plan of action. This is a party game, sure, but my friends and I come from a deeply competitive fighting game background. Our entire friendship revolves around having a ton of fun with a little bit of tryharding on the side. After all, aren't games better when you're winning?
We quickly discovered that most groups were totally disarmed by having at least two of us run after them, grabbing an unsuspecting victim and dragging them away from the action. While grabbing an opponent and dragging them around drains stamina, it does so at a considerably slower rate if you manage to hold onto them with both paws. A bit of experimenting had me and another friend nailing the perfect strategy for pulling foes out of the fray, letting our buds who had successfully wrangled Party Animals' controls complete the actual objective.
Our delightfully adorable faces were instilling fear in our opponents, gleeful cackles pouring from our Discord voice call while our random opponents used the in-game chat function to express their dismay at our absolute goblin strategies. We've always enjoyed going toe-to-toe with each other in these games, but this is the first time we'd actually teamed up. Turns out putting our ultra-competitive brains together generated the best kind of teamwork, though our poor matchups would likely disagree.
Party games are a bedrock for inside jokes and anecdotes that'll get randomly dropped in conversation years from now, and Party Animals is no different. While I don't think we'll be dropping Gang Beasts entirely in favour of it—I much prefer the way it cycles through maps after every round as opposed to Party Animals keeping to a single map per game—there's a lot here that'll keep us coming back on those dreary weekends and weekday evenings.