A combination of The Hunger Games meets Hungry Hungry Hippos sees this year's breakout gaming star emerge – Barry O'Rourke writes for Culture on the joys of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
With over 2 million downloads on Steam in its first weekend alone, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has well and truly arrived. A massively multiplayer party game, in Fall Guys your mission is simple – survive. Up to 60 players online will duel it out in a free-for-all struggle through round after round of escalating chaos until one victor remains.
The controls and premise of Fall Guys are simple. You take control of a little 'bean’ like character and can jump, dive and grab your way to victory. With only a few controls, you will think the game is incredibly easy. This will be your first mistake.
The game is organised chaos and plays like a virtual Total Wipeout or Takeshi's Castle. At the word go, all 60 beans will rush across your screen in a frenzy, to levels which will test your reflexes, memory, patience and kindness.
Obstacle courses form a big part of gameplay, and you will bash your way through spinning fans, beams, bridges and other players to the finish line. The action is textbook Gladiators meets Total Wipeout with a peppering of Hungry Hungry Hippos; but qualifying for the next round is only half the fun.
In Fall Guys, the most barbaric of human instincts are exposed, as players unhappy with 'just winning', will actively hunt you down and try to eliminate you for sport. The only compensation to this is you too, will try and knock them out regularly.
Some levels force competitors into temporary teams and form the basis for the most fun and frustrating elements to Fall Guys. With no form of communication, your team of little beans will have to instinctively work together (and against) the other teams to survive elimination as you mercilessly scream orders at your TV, of which none are ever heard.
9 times out of 10, this hatred will be aimed at Team Yellow, who will then all be eliminated. It is cunning. It is vicious. It is hilarious.
A game-changer in Battle Royale
Battle royale games have picked up an undue reputation for violence. The very mention of battle royale and many assume guns, bloodshed and not much else. Fortnite obviously springs to mind, with other series such as Call of Duty entering the fray in recent times. The genre is popular, but perhaps given the success of Fall Guys, not for the reasons we once thought.
Set to the backdrop of what I can only assume is the inside of a gummy bear's mind, Fall Guys explodes with cotton-candy colour at every corner like a Katy Perry music video. The characters you control are goofy. The music will be on repeat in your mind long after you’ve turned off your console.
There are a plethora of various skins and customizables to kit your character out in style, and judging by the game’s official Twitter page (which I highly recommend you follow), there is no end to the number of brands, celebrities and other game titles wanting in on the new phenomenon.
With no exploration required and simple, uncomplicated objectives, players can pick up a controller and play Fall Guys with as much chance of winning on their 1st try as they have on their 20th.
Perhaps this is why on opening weekend alone, Fall Guys has become such a hit already. It is just simple fun. You don't mind if (and when) you lose. There's enough variety in levels and gameplay that you can play often without getting bored.
While Fall Guys is very much still in its infancy, the potential this game has to become a timeless classic is evident. New levels and play modes in the pipeline will no doubt add another layer to a game whose only requirement is to have fun.
And given the times we are in, it's a distraction worth falling for.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is currently available on Steam and PS4 (and is free via PlayStation Plus for the month of August).