Review – Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
One of my favorite surprises back at E3 2019 was Mediatonic and Devolver’s first take on the battle royale genre, the adorable Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. It was something I had never seen before: an online multiplayer approach on the Wipeout and Takeshi’s Castle style of game shows. Complete with multiple rounds comprised of different minigames that would gradually eliminate players from the show, until one lucky individual is eventually crowned the winner of the “episode”. I played a handful of rounds back at E3 and loved every second of that preview session. I was salivating for the final release, as I knew this had the potential to become something truly special. I wasn’t wrong.
Fall Guys is exactly as I’ve just described on the previous paragraph. You control a stupidly cuddly and adorable jellybean-esque character (which is fully customizable, by the way), and you’re tasked with winning a variety of minigames in order to become the winner of the Fall Guys game show. It doesn’t matter which minigame you’re forced to play (they are chosen at random), they are as easy to pick up and play as your average Mario Party minigame. Fall Guys only uses a handful of buttons on your controller and can even be played with just a mouse and a keyboard with ease. All you can do is run, jump, grab opponents, and perform a simple yet hilarious dive while in the air.
Despite being a battle royale, therefore being centered around making you the sole survivor at the end of the game, there is way more variety in Fall Guys‘ minigames than I initially expected. There are your straightforward obstacle courses, full of pits, spinning hammers, and slippery floors. However, there are also logic puzzles, your typical game of tag with the objective of stealing other players’ tails whilst making sure not to lose yours, and a handful of team-based games, such as ring jumps and an intentionally clunky version of football with gigantic balls.
The physics in Fall Guys are very janky, but that is intentional. This is a game in which getting hit by an obstacle will make your bobbly character fly around like a rag doll in the most hilarious of ways. Sure, it might make you lose a match, but it’s so silly that you won’t be annoyed. On the contrary, you will most certainly laugh.
Everything in Fall Guys is tailor made to make you feel happy and carefree. This is a perfect example of a game that doesn’t feature fancy visuals, but makes up for this fact with a great art direction. All of the characters, the unlockable skins and costumes, the animations, as well as the courses; it’s impossible not to think that Fall Guys is colorful and adorable. There’s even a Half-Life-themed costume for your character in the PC version, featuring the cutest head crab I have ever seen in my entire life. I want a plushie! The sound department is equally excellent, with a collection of silly sound effects, as well as some high-octane yet silly game show-themed music that fits perfectly with the game’s overall setting.
There isn’t a lot that can be criticized in Fall Guys, but those issues are clearly noticeable. Being an online-focused game developed by a small team, but released to a ton of hype, Fall Guys is still suffering from server issues. There are way too many players trying to join a game at once. The first few hours after the official release were rough, as the game would constantly crash and throw me out of a match, but things became way more stable after a handful of scheduled fixes performed by the developers. I can only imagine that the game is suffering from bigger connectivity issues on PS4, as it was the free PS+ game of August 2020. However, servers have been fixed for the most part on the Steam version.
Another small gripe is the fact that this game features microtransactions, something you don’t see in titles published by Devolver Digital. You can buy in-game currency with real life cash in order to buy new skins and emotes, but I don’t actually see the point for this inclusion. Fall Guys is actually one of the most generous games I have ever seen when it comes to giving in-game currency to players just by actually playing the damn thing. You level up pretty quickly, always earning a new skin or costume as a result, and you always get some cash whether you win a match or not. That is the main reason why the inclusion of microtransactions did not infuriate me at all, but it still needs to be mentioned.
Issues aside, I loved Fall Guys. It is exactly what I expected from it: a brand new, family-friendly take on the battle royale genre that is really easy to pick up and play, and almost impossible to master. This is a game that will please any kind of gamer, regardless of age, gender, or skill level. It’s simply impossible not to smile while playing it. It’s adorable, it’s addictive, and it’s absolutely hilarious, making you laugh like crazy even when you lose a match in the last second. I am looking forward to Mediatonic’s support in the near future. I hope they add new skins, costumes, and minigames, as well as fix the game’s server issues . This can even become a staple esport in the future. One I’d actually watch and laugh from beginning to end.
Another great example of a game prioritizing a great art style over fancy visuals. It’s colorful, beyond adorable, and the framerate is, for the most part, stable.
This is the simplest control scheme ever implemented in a battle royale. You can learn how to play it in just a few seconds. The physics are intentionally janky and that results in hilarious situations, especially whenever your character gets hit by a hammer or fan.
The sound department is comprised of cute yet repetitive sound effects, as well as a handful of ultra-catchy game show music that fits in perfectly with the game’s tone.
Fun Factor: 9.5
It might feature some slightly questionable microtransactions (even though the game showers you with currency just by playing it), and there are still some connectivity issues, but Fall Guys is simply amazing. It’s a game anyone can pick up and have a blast. It’s basically impossible to play this game without a gigantic smile on your face.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is available now on PS4 and PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was provided by the publisher.