Available On: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4
There’s no denying the incredible popularity of the Battle Royale genre in just a few short years. PUBG and Fortnite still dominate the genre (the latter becoming a cultural phenomenon). Others have tried to emulate the combination of massively multiplayer matches, seasonal events with unlockable goodies, and bankrolling microtransactions to varying degrees of success.
Enter Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Devolver Digital’s refreshingly non-violent take on the mammoth genre. The intuitive controls, humorous art and physics, and fast-paced gameplay has my family constantly passing the controller back and forth for “just one more round.”
Falling with Style
The titular Fall Guys are funny little jelly bean people that can be dressed up a variety of crazy clothes, patterns, colors, and costumes, from a werewolf head to a hot dog costume. Starting out there aren’t a lot of cosmetic options; like other Battle Royale games, we’ll need to level up to unlock more cosmetic goodies.
There’s only one game mode in Fall Guys, which brings everyone into a 60-person online match. A single match consists of several elimination rounds.
Each round pits players on a colorful obstacle course of zany hazards. Rotating wind blades knock runners off course. Doors open and slam shut (or never open at all). Circular treadmills, seesaw platforms, and gigantic falling fruit derail even the most skilled runners.
Like all good physical game shows, the action is fun without being cruel. The silly character designs, soft foam world, and rag doll physics constantly elicit laughs, then playful howls of frustration after getting eliminated just inches from the finish line.
The other half of Fall Guys’ immediate success is the extremely low barrier of entry. Only three buttons are needed to play – jump, dive, and grab (and grab is more often used to disrupt other players than anything else). The bulk of the gameplay is simply making it to the finish line by avoiding obstacles and other players.
A few team-based rounds help break up the chaotic free-for-all action. Team rounds come in obvious flavors like soccer and tag, along with some more inventive mini-games like an egg collection relay, and a race to move a giant ball from one side of an obstacle course to another. With zero means of in-game communication, the team rounds retain the same casual fun, with no round lasting longer than a few minutes.
Fall Guys is rated E for Everyone with Mild Cartoon Violence. There’s nothing objectionable about cute little jelly bean figures bumping into each other and falling down. Controls are incredibly easy, though any competitive game can be frustrating. Like any online Battle Royale with dozens of players, earning the coveted #1 spot is very challenging.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout smartly doesn’t try to compete with the crowded online shooter Battle Royale. It pulls from the goofy fun pageantry of 90s physical game shows like American Gladiators and Legends of the Hidden Temple with the easy gameplay of mini-games from Mario Party to create an instant classic that’s competitive and fun for the whole family.