Most of the biggest games out there at the moment started out as games developed by budding indie developers. Minecraft, Rocket League, and even Fortnite were all small indie projects before they became gaming titans. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is another small indie game that is hoping to do the same. Published by Devolver Digital and developed by Mediatonic, the game has seen nearly 1.5 million people playing on the game’s launch. All signs point to Fall Guys being popular for a long time, but is the game any good? Hopefully, I can convince you to hop into a match in this review.
Gameplay – A Unique Battle Royale
With no story, we’ll start this review by jumping straight into the gameplay. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a 60 player battle royale that pits you against 59 other players in a series of mini-games and races. During each round, you must either perform as an individual or work as a team to qualify for the next one, with only a percentage of players making it through. The group will get smaller and smaller over each round until there are only a handful of players left. These skilled few will have to compete in one last round to take home the crown.
During your time with Fall Guys, you’ll compete in several game modes. The most frequent are the obstacle courses, in which you to race to a finish line before other players, dodging obstacles along the way. There are also survival mini-games that have you dodging obstacles until a certain amount of players are eliminated, and team games where you must work as a team to complete a certain objective. This could be a game of football or jumping through hoops to score points.
If you win a game, your reward is a shiny crown which is one of two currencies you can use to purchase cosmetics at the game’s store. The other is Kudos, which are coins you earn for completing rounds. After each game you’ll receive a small amount of Kudos and experience that will level you up through the battle pass, unlocking even more cosmetics along the way. You can purchase Kudos with actual money, but I never felt like I had to. During your play sessions, you’ll rack up enough currency to buy whatever you like and then some.
Fall Guys is the most fun I’ve had with a game in years. Between the frantic gameplay and intense races, I found myself laughing and swearing during almost every game. It’s such a simple yet unique idea that it’s surprising it hasn’t been thought of before. Something about playing as a little jelly bean as you duck and dive through Takeshi’s Castle style obstacle courses is so enjoyable that even when you’re losing miserably, you’re still having fun. It has every quality a successful battle royale needs. It’s fun, colourful, and very addictive.
Where the game shines brightest is in its many chaotic and ridiculous races. There are several races, each with their own interesting gimmick. For example, there a race that has you barrelling through doors to reach the finish line. However, several of the doors are fake, sometimes leading to you being squashed by other racers trying the same door as you. I cannot stress the immense joy I feel when I see a dozen eager players rag-doll around after being beamed by a windmill.
As the game has only just launched, you’ll feel a bit of repetition after an hour or two. The same levels crop up frequently, but they’re still enjoyable. Mediatonic have even committed to free future updates to expand the game, giving us new races, cosmetics and upgrades. Fall Guys is a little basic right now, but is worth the asking price and is definitely worth downloading for free through PlayStation Plus. It will only get better over time and is still a fun game in its first season.
Unfortunately, there are a few issues with Fall Guys, even though I’d love to say it’s a perfect game. With a couple of exceptions, most of the team games are a lot more frustrating than fun. Two of the biggest offenders are Fall Ball and Tail Grab. The former is a Fall Guys take on football that has you knocking footballs around trying to score goals. However, these balls have a life of their own and are difficult to control. This leads to own goals and the ball pinging around the arena uncontrollably.
Tail Grab is another frustrating team game, but for totally different reasons. Each team has a set number of members with tails that the two opposing teams have to steal. The team with the most tails when time is up wins. You could play perfectly, never losing your tail, yet the entire team has to perform well. Being knocked out because of your team, especially after doing well in previous rounds, always feels a little unfair. There also seems to be a latency issue where players nowhere near you end up stealing your tail.
If there are going to be future updates, then I’d like to see a lot more races or survival rounds. Pretty much everyone I’ve seen talking about them to seems to dislike the team games. They’re mildly entertaining at best, and frustrating at their worst. If you get a series of rounds without team games in them, then the game is very fun, but most of the time you have to cross your fingers and hope luck is on your side. Fall Guys can be frustrating, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying an otherwise fantastic game.
Graphics and Audio
One other aspect where Fall Guys is a little lacking is in its soundtrack. With only the one track during every mode, it feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. I would have loved to see some more frantic and fast-paced music to go alongside the racing, possibly with some more intense music for the tense final rounds. I’ve also had occasions where the music will glitch and loop over itself, making me restart the game just to set it straight again. Musically, Fall Guys is disappointing, but it makes up for it with some top-notch visuals and sound effects.
One of the more charming qualities of the beans you play as is the little grunts they make when bumping into each other or celebrating. Being squashed in a mass of players and hearing dozens of “oofs” during a dogpile is one of my favourite aspects of the sound design. Everything from the muffled speech to the springy sounds you make when you jump gives the game a cartoonish vibe and gives these small bean-like creatures so much more personality.
It also helps that Fall Guys is nice to look at. The simple, yet colourful art style really sets it apart from other battle royales, giving the game a unique flare. It’s another game that I’ll point to when people say that graphics are the most important part of a video game. There are so many colours clashing, but it fits with the overall design of every level. Mediatonic have done a fantastic job making sure the vibrant colours aren’t too distracting by making everything else just as garish.