Once a year, a game is announced. And from the second it’s revealed, I know it will be my game of the year. Folks. This year, that game is Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
The newest challenger in the battle royale scene is out now on PS4 and PC—and I could barely set it down to get you this review. Before we get to that, a quick note on battle royales: we’ve been getting a lot of them lately. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with the genre, but its entries seem to blend together. (Save for Tetris 99 or the upcoming Spellbreak.) Sure, Fortnite has buildings and guns. Warzone has just guns. But they’re all built around shooters.
Finally, Devolver Digital and Mediatonic have brought us a whole new take on battle royale in Fall Guys. The game sees players taking control over a creature that looks like an anthropomorphic jellybean, which competes with 50 other jellybeans in a ruthless obstacle course. It’s like a death run in a game show format—think Wipeout mixed with a Tough Mudder. Each run is split into randomized rounds, which last anywhere from one to five minutes, that slowly whittle down the field until there’s one bean left. Those include everything from platforming, to team battles, to soccer, and so much more. The result? Fall Guys is one of the single most addictive games I’ve played since Tetris.
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The matches last a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes if you make it through all the rounds, so the average Fall Guys run will most likely last around five to 10 minutes. The quick-bite, high-action rounds are exactly the kind of pace that a lot of games, especially battle royales, tend to drive away from. In Fortnite—a game I do actually play for fun, which I understand puts my credibility at risk—rounds can last around 20 to 40 minutes depending on skill level and luck. While that difference doesn’t seem big, Fortnite and other shoot-em-up battle royales often include a lot of sitting, waiting, and planning. In Fall Guys, you have no time for that. Go. Run. Survive.
My favorite thing about Fall Guys? Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is ever my fault. It’s your fault. All of you. Get out of my way! In fact, I think we’ve been wrong the whole time. We thought it was called Fall Guys because they fall down. No. It’s because everyone else is your own personal fall guy. The game puts players in situations where they’re toppling over each other. Or, it forces enemies to work as a team, like joining forces to balance a platform. The gameplay makes for a very weird feeling of competitiveness—but one where you can always end the match blaming someone else. So yeah, it’s easy to point a finger when things go wrong for you and your jellybean. That’s what gaming has always really been about, right?
This year, yes, has been an absolute shitshow. But 2020 has been a strong year for gaming, which must count for something. Final Fantasy 7, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us 2, and so many more titles have pushed gaming to brilliant heights. And Fall Guys has no problem grabbing a letterman jacket and fitting right in with the cool kids. This year, save for Animal Crossing, has also been filled with notoriously challenging or dark titles, allowing Fall Guys to give us some of the feel-good, mindless fun that gaming was built on. The game’s design screams fun—with its bright color palette, goofy costumes, and hilarious running styles. Fall Guys breeds goofy, fun situations that will have you equal parts shrieking in laughter and in a gamer rage like you haven’t known since you were eight years old.
With a $20 price tag, Fall Guys is even more affordable than its best-of-the-year peers. For the entirety of August, it’s even free for Playstation Plus subscribers. As for microtransactions? The game does have in-game currency for cosmetics. But for the first time in…I don’t know how long, it’s completely doable to earn all the shop currency you’ll ever want through gameplay. Of course, you can still use IRL money to get yourself a french fry costume for your jellybean. But the beauty is that you don’t really have to. Fall Guys also already has some cool collabs, with some Half Lyfe costumes on Steam. Fingers crossed we’ll see some Ratchet and Clank collabs on PS4.
While it’s no secret that Fall Guys debuted with some pretty nasty server issues—largely due to popularity, with an overflow of players they never saw coming—we all need to remember its developer is not a massive mega-corporation. So we can easily bear with them, considering that even a lot of those mega-studios don’t have the best servers. Still, Fall Guys is a remarkably fun, inventive, and polished title that will have you losing hours of your day screaming at your screen. While it may not be a triple-A-level cinematic masterpiece, it deserves to be placed on the pedestal with all the other phenomenal titles that debuted this year.
If you haven’t picked up Fall Guys, especially if you have a PlayStation, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Just stay the hell out of my way.
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