Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X
September 20, 2023
Joining the bustling genre of casual and fun party games is Party Animals, a new release where you play as adorable animals and fight to the death!… or until the round is over. With a roster of cats, dogs, bats, owls and my favourite, sharks—you’re bound to find an animal you vibe with. You might even spot some familiar characters from a certain farming simulator! The devs at Recreate Games have developed their own in-house physics engine, so when it comes to fighting your friends, the physics-based character movements can create some pretty hilarious moments.
You gotta fight for your right to party
Party Animals supports both local and online play with up to 8 players in one session. You can also fill in any gaps with computer players should you so choose. Playing with online friends is pretty easy to drop in and out of, and there’s the option for offline local split-screen play as well. The game also offers crossplay support, so PC and Xbox friends don’t need to worry about playing the game specifically on one system. This is always great to see.
The game offers three different game modes for you to play. Last Stand allows you to play as teams of two, four, or a free-for-all. You also play a best of three in this game mode, with rounds either progressing quickly or taking longer depending on the amount of players you have. Throughout Last Stand, the winner is the last one standing… kind of says it on the tin, doesn’t it? Team Score is another game mode. Here, two teams of four players compete against each other to complete an objective. Lastly, there’s Arcade, where teams of four begin with 10 lives and the only way to win is to get one team down to 0 lives.
The maps themselves are incredibly detailed and unique, and they’re so varied too. There’s a great deal of charm when experiencing a new map for the first time. And for a recently launched game, Party Animal’s map variation is incredibly promising. The difference in area types is great to see. You might get similar biomes (winter/cold/water), however, the actual settings feel so different. In one map, you’ll try not to freeze to death as a campfire slowly burns out, whilst another will have you standing on an iceberg as bits begin to break off.
You’ll be leavin’ with a fat lip
Matches go for around 10 to 15 minutes. This all depends on the mode type, or whether or not your friends will try to elongate that time. However, after a certain allotted time, the game will cleverly push things along as environmental hazards become unavoidable. Some maps might have poisonous gas creeping in, or sticks breaking off, maybe even the bridge you’re supposed to fight on will fall apart. It’s quite a creative way to have a timer but not make it so obvious.
Last Stand can vary in length. Some rounds felt incredibly quick, a blink and you’ll miss it, whereas others took their time as players battled it out for animal supremacy. If you get knocked out, you’re still able to participate by throwing different objects onto the stage as hazards for the remaining contestants. These recharge over time, so you can’t spam it, though it does go a little too slow for my tastes. However, if you’re patient enough, it is mighty satisfying to charge up enough to throw a bomb out amongst the combatants. It’s a great way to interact with the game even after you’ve perished. These thrown objects then remain on the stage for the next round, allowing you to use them to your advantage, or disadvantage.
Throughout the rounds, weapons and other helpful objects will be thrown out sporadically from above. This can be things like plungers that you can stick to another player, or a taser that will immobilise one, two, three, or more. However, the most egregious weapons are the tennis rackets and shovels. They can pack a wallop! And sometimes players can take you out with one hit. Once the other players and I figured out that the shovel was the best object, everyone would be gunning for it whenever it dropped from the heavens or from another player.
Don’t give us none of your aggravation
While playing, the game can create some pretty hilarious moments. One map has large spinning fans on one side and you have to pull on a lever that brings up a barrier so you can be safe once the fans start up. If you’re not safe from the fans, then it’s a quick knockout as you get sucked into their deadly blades. Watching your character wobble from wind or seeing it ragdoll is brilliant fun. There’s even a map that includes a black hole that turns the battlefield into a hazardous zone of weightlessness. Once that happens, players begin to scramble as they find something to hold that’s attached to solid ground. If they’re not able, they’ll slowly drift off into the black hole. The engine behind the physics of this game has been crafted fantastically. It’s easily something players will be laughing about hours later.
Rather than relying entirely on skill, the game is often comical in how someone wins. A player being flung to their death by the map and leaving one player standing as the victor will never get old. You can often bring other players down with you as you fall, too. It feels great to win, even if you don’t fight everyone. The game over-screen will see the winner stand on a pedestal with the losers around them. This isn’t a still-frame though as players will fight it out in delightful goofiness before a photo is taken. Party Animals also allows you to save these hilarious photos. Once done, it’s time to load into another match! However, the load times can feel egregious due to how long it takes. This could be the hosts’ internet, or maybe an issue with the specific game build.
“Rather than relying entirely on skill, the game is often comical in how someone wins.”
Arcade mode tasks you with attempting to reduce your opponent’s team lives down to 0. There are currently only two maps available here, however, they are vastly different from each other. One map is set in a bar/cabin surrounded by snow, and the other is set in a train station. With the bar map, you have to throw the enemy team out of the nice and warm cabin and make sure that they turn into a block of ice outside. Whereas in the train station, you’ll need to throw players onto the tracks. Both are pretty brutal ways to go, but it makes things fun and interesting.
The last mode is Team Score. This is somewhat similar to Arcade, where you’re in teams of four and you have to compete against the other team and obtain victory. However, the maps, difficulty, and objectives are quite different. One map has you dragging gummy bears to your base and dropping them in a chute. Another asks you to load bombs onto a trebuchet and fling it to the opponent’s side. Some matches in Team Score don’t mandate roughhousing to win, such as one match where you shovel coal into your train’s engine and see who goes the fastest. But there are some matches where it might be necessary to win.
When playing with CPUs, they’re honestly so brutal! Especially when you set their difficulty to hard, but even on normal settings, they can be rough. I noticed that the CPUs were somewhat ‘quick’ to find you which could be off-putting for some. In paw-to-paw combat, the CPUs’ motions feel more rigid compared to a human player who might be more fluid in their jumps or punches.
I’m gonna fight ’em off
Party Animals has full keyboard/mouse functionality, as well as controller support. However, it’s recommended to use a controller on PC, and I have to echo that statement. While the controller is much easier to play with, it still feels like a game that is hard to master and get the controls down just right. You certainly wouldn’t want any additional complexity or awkwardness to come from keyboard/mouse controls. There is keybinding support, so you’re able to change the keyboard or controller layout. However, Party Animals doesn’t have much else in the way of accessibility features. Things like closed captions for punching sounds or explosions, a colour-blind mode, or even being able to change the font to one that’s dyslexic-friendly would have been nice to see.
One of the most disappointing things is that Party Animals has loot boxes/gacha mechanics. The devs do stress that most of the currency can be earned while playing, which is great, though there’s still a percentage of currency that can be purchased with real-world money and that is concerning. It’s not something that is in your face, though it is somewhat worrying for a game that isn’t free to play. It’s a design choice that feels unnecessarily greedy.
I’m fighting my way back
The sound design in Party Animals is absolutely lovely, as is the music in between rounds and on menus, helping you get in the mood to play. While there’s no difference in how each animal sounds, the sounds for each punch, headbutt, and punt sound impactful. And whilst I may hate the idea of a gacha machine in the game, the sounds it emits are realistic and satisfying. The graphics are also really vibrant and unique. Lots of yellows and oranges, with a good amount of contrast between the characters and each stage. The designs of the animals are superb with a mixture of meme characters and original concepts. It’s obvious to see that there are some great design choices here, and giving them names simply adds to the charm.
Party Animals might have some long-lasting issues that are of concern, but for right now, it’s a funny game with endearing characters and fantastic design.
- Maps are varied and different
- Great use of weapons
- Graphics are gorgeous
- Hilarity ensues
- Some accessibility options missing
- Microtransactions feel unnecessary
Party Animals is a fantastic game to get everyone in the mood. Not only is the art design enriching, but the sound design really makes an impact as well. Each match will have you in hysterics as you fight for the crown. There are some serious concerns surrounding the microtransaction economy found within as well as a lack of accessibility options for people who need them. However, at the very least, the game does prove to be a fun time with friends and an easy way to lose track of the hours.