Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review – A celebration of competitive silliness

Reviewed on August 8, 2020

Platforms:

PS4, PC

Released:

August 4, 2020

Publisher:

Devolver Digital

Developer:

Mediatonic

One of the most enriching, colourful, and joyous gaming experiences has just landed with the release of Fall Guys. Take a sprinkle of Battle Royale, a pinch of Takeshi’s Castle, and a smothering of vibrancy and charm. Oh, and beans… plenty of beans.

Fall Guys is a celebration of competitive silliness. 60 beans enter into a game show where they will face off in a set of wacky minigames. You’ll push your way through the crowd, race through spinning obstacles, duck under swinging balls, and stumble your way into the next round. The game is a Battle Royale at its core but presented as a game show. Each “episode” contains multiple rounds with underperforming players being knocked out between each round. There are 5 rounds per episode with one player being crowned the winner by the end.

The presentation of Fall Guys is fabulous. The game show aesthetic is really impactful with obvious comparisons able to be made to Takeshi’s Castle or Wipeout. The padded surfaces, the bright colours, the silly courses, and the way players collide with obstacles and get flung off to the side. The presentation works perfectly and brings an undeniable level of charm and enjoyment to the game.

There’s a lot of customisation when it comes to dressing up your bean avatar too. Different costumes, colours, and patterns all allow you to celebrate your individuality as new content is constantly unlocked through levelling up and different cosmetics continue to cycle through the store. The variety of cosmetics just continues to expand and it all adds another layer of silly fun to the already colourful and crazy presentation. Fall Guys is honestly just so joyous and a big part of that can be safely attributed to the smart visual and auditory choices. Even just the sound effects and music brings things to another level of charm and cheer.

The minigames can be a bit of a mixed bag but overall they’re quite fun. 25 minigames can be found within the game’s rotation which provides a decent amount of variety to the gaming experience. Some minigames will inevitably show up more frequently than others so a larger pool to play from would go a long way to keeping things fresh and interesting. Personal shoutout has to go to the race style maps as well as “Hex-A-Gone”. These minigames feel fun, balanced, interesting, and chaotic – truly the perfect formula.

Although with the good also comes the bad, and after playing for a decent amount of time it’s clear that not all minigames are created equally. Perfect Match is a little too easy, Jinxed always feels like a coin flip, and you really don’t need to engage in any minigame involving tails until the final moments. Oh… and then there’s the team game problem.

Fall Guys definitely walks the thin balance beam between casual and competitive. As a player I embrace how silly and casual the game feels, especially when you compare it to the usually super serious shooters that dominate the Battle Royale genre. However, even I can admit that it doesn’t feel very fun to get knocked out of the episode due to a team minigame. Team games aren’t inherently bad, but some games give you such little control over the outcome that it’s hard not to feel cheated and disappointed. Sure it’s easy enough to jump straight back in a new game, but I also want my value as a player to be meaningful. Holding a tail for the entirety of a game of Team Tail Tag and still losing because you’re team couldn’t do the same just feels a little shit.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the game’s server issues as well. Yes, we know online games often have server issues, disconnecting, and periods of downtime on launch. This is all totally understandable and forgivable. However as a player it can still feel frustrating. My experience with the game so far has involved a lot of waiting for servers to come back online. 4 days after launch and the issues haven’t been resolved. I’m so glad the game is seeing this level of success, now we just have to see if the development team is equipped to deal with the game’s popularity and are able to maintain a healthy online service.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s a chaos to Fall Guys that I really appreciate. Whether it’s 60 beans all trying to squeeze through the same doorway in Door Dash or the final moments of Tip Toe when a clear path to the finish is made and everybody rushes to force their way over the line. It’s certainly chaos but it also feels controlled. Like a perfect social experiment that’s both disorderly yet totally predictable.

Jump, grab, dive and run. The game is very simplistic in its controls and that’s a big win here. It allows for the challenge of the experience to come from the levels themselves and your fellow competition rather than from the controls. With that said though, there’s still a level of mechanic skill found within Fall Guys and it’s been a blast mastering the small intricacies of the dive and grab mechanics. Diving in particular feels great and allows for some risky maneuvers and spectacular saves. Grabbing doesn’t feel quite as precise, although there is something very enjoyable about watching all the beans tussle about and grab each other. Griefing is possible within Fall Guys and it can range from hilarious to frustrating. I don’t think it’s a huge issue at this point although the developers may need to keep an eye on certain stages and tune down how capable players are of exploiting the map or griefing others.

“It’s a fantastic reward and it was clear a decision was made not to go greedy with the microtransaction system”

The monetisation structure of the game feels very fair so far. A battle pass is present although it’s completely free, allowing players to level up and acquire goodies such as emotes, patterns, outfits and currency. There are two types of currency within the game, one can be earned through play or purchase with real money and the other through play alone. I love that winning a game gives you that oh so rare currency and allows you to purchase some cool cosmetics. It’s a fantastic reward and it was clear a decision was made not to go greedy with the microtransaction system. With that said, things could always change in the future. But in its current state you earn and progress at a very fair and enjoyable rate without the game trying to nickel and dime you.

Is Fall Guys a perfect game? Certainly not. The game could easily have stayed within production for a few more months to further balance and tighten the experience. Small features such as immediately viewing your friends once you get knocked out of the game are missing. Exploits could have been patched and better level design could have easily been implemented before launch. Although with that said, it’s clear Fall Guys has found a winning formula. Nitpicks aside, the game is spectacularly fun. It’s a vibrant rush of goofiness and enjoyment that’s rewarding both solo or with friends. It’s competitive without being serious and it has some serious charm to back it all up.

8

Great

Positive:

  • Bright, lively, energetic, charming
  • A competitive game that's not too serious
  • A really fun idea that's well implemented
  • So much style and pizzazz

Negative:

  • Needs some additional tweaking and updates to get the experience to the next level
  • Team games can be a bummer

When it works, Fall Guys is a remarkably fun experience. It’s a rich and satisfying romp that silly yet rewarding. It’s the exact kind of game we needed right now, a perfectly joyous distraction from a lot of the shittyness around us. Fall Guys has the structure of a delightful game with a lot of longevity. All it needs now is continued support and smart updates to propel it even further forward.