Fall Guys looks like a mash-up between Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout (not the American one, it sucks), only in the form of a video game, courtesy of Mediatonic and Devolver Digital. Competing in slalom courses and dodging obstacles with up to 60 players at once sounds like a recipe for chaos, and it pretty much is. Even if it’s pretty easy to get a bit exhausted with the content on offer, it still promises a tense and frantic experience.
Each tournament is made up of five rounds. While each game begins with the aforementioned 60 players, by the final round, only one will emerge victorious. Every game will always start with a race through a map stuffed with obstacles and traps that are bound to knock you over or push you off the map. See-saws, oversized balls, hammers, spinning plates, moving gates and pendulums are all to be expected. Usually, each map includes at least one of these trap types in abundance, with a few others alongside.
Oddly, the game seems to pick one map from a very small handful for that first match. Other race maps seem to crop up from round 2 onward, so it’s easy to get pretty tired of redoing the same batch over and over. Still, they’re creatively designed and particularly challenging, and seeing a horde of these little fellas scrambling for the goal is quite a sight indeed. Even if you get knocked away and have to retrace your steps again in order to advance, the respawn points are plentiful and fair, so falling off the map won’t result in an instant failure, thankfully. The game will end when a set amount of players make it to the finish line.
The rest tend to mix things up a bit more. Sure, you might end up taking part in another race, though they do attempt to add a few more twists, like insta-death slime that gradually engulfs the stage. There are a few puzzle-themed maps; one of them has you jumping on plates in order to find the path that’ll take you to the goal (the real ones will glow, while the others send you into the void before you respawn). Survival modes might crop up, too – you may need to steal and hold onto a golden tail from other players until time runs out, or move across rotating platforms in order to avoid falling off. The variety during the mid-part of each tournament is definitely a strong point.
There’s even more to enjoy with the team games. With either two or three teams on either side, it’s quite satisfying being able to either directly contribute to your team’s score, or simply attempt to sabotage the opponents’ efforts. Often, they’ll include playing football by pushing giant balls (yes ha bloody ha) into nets, or by leaping through hoops for points. Then there’s egg-looting, where you’ll have to swipe up one egg at a time and dump them in your team’s goal, but having to climb in and out of it while being swamped by clusters of players each time is just a mess of an experience.
With roughly 20 minigames on offer, you’d think the title was set to last. Thing is, due to the fact that these games can last from up to 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how successful you are, it’s really easy to breeze through the majority of the content on offer within the first few hours. It’s disappointing, because most of the title’s content is still cool, but it’s all too easy to get fatigued from replaying those same three maps over and over once you begin, only to inevitably fail at some point in the tourney and have to go through it all again. Claiming victory is difficult, make no mistake about that, and it can feel awfully disheartening to get so close, only to lose it all.
At least you’ll be compensated reasonably for your efforts. You’ll earn ‘Kudos’ (coins) and XP with each game you participate in. If you fail the first round, the amount you’ll be rewarded with is a pittance, though you’ll earn a fairer amount if you really push yourself. Additional costumes, patterns, colours, and emotes can be purchased in the store, though it’s purely cosmetic and completely optional. Winning games earn you crowns, perfect for snagging some of the much rarer stuff that will require a handful of victories to get (yeah, good luck with that…). You’ll still need to grind a fair bit to get a lot of the goodies here, though you can still earn some sweet stuff by levelling up.
Whether you’re using a mouse or keyboard, it’s safe to say that it controls really well. Personally, I prefer the latter, as the analogue stick helps with aiming my jumps, which you’ll need to be careful about as it’s entirely possible for your guy to stumble or trip if you land poorly… or simply trip over another player. Visually, it looks very whimsical with its bright colours, and everything looks pretty detailed. Most matches function with few connection issues, too, and the framerate is as smooth as kittens.
At the risk of sounding cliché, Fall Guys is yet another title that’s best played in bursts. It’s expertly crafted, creatively designed, and particularly challenging, but you’ll likely burn through the 20 mini-games on offer a lot faster than you think. Even with that (and the fairly grindy nature of the game) in mind, it’s still an easy recommendation on the whole, providing you play a few matches here and there, rather than blasting through the game for hours on end. Hopefully, future updates will offer more content to keep things from getting stale.