Review – Party Animals
Party Animals has been on my and my children’s most anticipated list for a while. We absolutely love playing co-op games with each other, and these kind of silly brawlers are a blast. In our eagerness for Party Animals, we have been playing a bit of Gang Beasts, which I initially didn’t care for due to server issues and lack of modes. I’m here to say that if you liked Gang Beasts or Human Fall Flat, then you’re going to love Party Animals. Essentially, this is a vastly more refined version of Gang Beasts.
Unlike Super Smash Bros., this brawler doesn’t try and offer any single player story aspects, this is just a straight forward party brawler. Hop online for some team based multiplayer fun, or grab some friends and play together in a private lobby filled with bots. With my kids, we have been enjoying making private matches and simply adding bots to fight against. They offer three different difficulties for the bots so you can tailor how you and your friends want to play.
Their are three main gameplay modes to play in Party Animals: Last Stand, Team Score, and Arcade. Last Stand features four teams of two battling it out in a last man standing mode. First team to three wins, wins the round. The Last Stand mode features nine different maps to play on, I’ll go more into the maps later. Team Score has two teams of four battling it out in objective based modes like Soccer or trying win a race on a moving train. Team Score, like Last Stand, offers it’s own unique set of nine levels to play. Arcade is another mode that is two teams of four, but this time you’re battling it out like an old western bar brawl trying to throw the other team out of the arena. This mode unfortunately only features two maps.
With a total of twenty maps, there is a lot content to play and each map is different and engaging. What I love about Party Animal’s maps is that they all have some sort of interactivity. Obviously the objective mode levels mostly feature the objective as the interactivity, but there are some like the train race that has multiple layers to it. You’ll need to split up your team to board the other teams train and try to prevent them from shoveling coal into the engine to make it go faster. Then you can also pull the brake of the train to slow the other team down.
The other levels that are mostly fighting also feature some sort of unique aspect that changes how you will have to adapt. The submarine level has missiles that launch and their blast will blow you off the submarine. Half way through the match the submarine will start to descend into the water creating a mad dash to the top of the sub to survive from drowning. Another level creates a black hole periodically in the middle of the level that lifts and pulls everything towards it and if you don’t grab onto something, you’re likely going to lose. This is what really sets Party Animals apart from Gang Beasts is the creativity and interaction of the levels.
Now onto the gameplay that can be a bit hit or miss. I will give them credit for making the gameplay and combat deeper than it needed it to be, but I’m glad they did. Besides the bunching, kicking, headbutting, and grabbing you also have a sprint button that allows a massive haymaker punch. You can also jump kick and do a dodge roll to avoid attacks. I do love they fixed an issue with climbing that Gang Beasts had, you can now grab and hold the jump button to auto climb. On top of the melee they have introduced weapons like nunchucks, tennis rackets, baseball bats, pans, hammers, Tasers, freeze gun, and a can of super strength.
Being able to throw bombs after you’ve been knocked out in order to help your remaining teammate is awesome.
All of this variety accompanied by the over the top physics can cause some extremely funny situations. Bashing an enemy off a map with a well timed hammer swing and watching their floppy body flail will always be funny. However, the physics can also be a point of annoyance. With how gangly the player movement can be, trying to grab a weapon with both hands can be a chore. Since you can’t control your hands and what they grab since they just soft lock to what is closest, you will end up grabbing the wrong objects frequently. There are also random times where the physics will just be sort of funky and a simple punch can launch you across the map, but then multiple headbutts won’t knock out an opponent.
Another thing worth noting is that the game is unfortunately always online. Even when you just want to play local with bots, you need to create a private online match and add the bots to that. Which means that even in local games you have a chance to have server hiccups. Luckily the servers have been solid for the most part, I haven’t had any disconnections, just a hiccup or two. Regardless, it just isn’t needed in a game like this.
I can only imagine they did always online because of the seasonal content to work your way through. Yes, unfortunately, Party Animals features some pretty bad micro-transactions. Luckily none of them offer an advantage to the gameplay and are strictly cosmetics for your avatars, but $20 for a full outfit is egregious for a non-free to play game. There is some convoluted currency going on here with dog treats and coins to get random chances to earn rare outfits along with the general level progression unlocks. Again, I’d be more upset if it wasn’t only cosmetic, but it’s still disappointing to see such large costs for simple outfits.
Visually, Party Animals is a treat to look at. The overall aesthetic sets the tone for some light hearted fun, and when you see the adorable little animals it brings a smile to your face. It’s even more funny when these little ragdoll cartoonish animals start fighting. Seeing them fly across the screen and jump kicking around with their oddly shaped bodies is just a delight. The overall visual quality is fantastic and pops off the screen with its color pallet. All of the levels are also well detailed with a variety of settings.
Much like the visuals, the sound design helps elevate everything about Party Animals. The fun jovial music and sound design all add to that lighthearted feeling that the game gives you. Then when you get into battles and the random battle sound effects of the animals smacking each other around or tasing each other is cartoony and fun. It’s not quite Loony Tunes level of silly sound effects, but it’s close enough to put a smile on your face when you bash a tennis racket against a gorillas face and send him flying.
Party Animals is a really fun time to play, whether online with others, or sitting with some friends and family on some good, old-fashioned local multiplayer. This truly feels like a next step up from previous silly physics-based brawlers, even if it does have its own bits of frustrations. However, I think if you don’t try to take it seriously, and are in it for some lighthearted fun, Party Animals can easily be in your rotation of fun party games.
Adorably cartoonish art style with cute characters, well detailed levels, all with a fantastic color pallet that pops.
The over the top physics can be humorous, but also frustrating when it doesn’t work how you want.
Fun light music and sound effects that fit the silly and cartoonish theme.
Fantastic party brawler with a great selection of interactable maps and modes. Some gameplay inconsistencies do get in the way.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Party Animals is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of Party Animals was provided by the publisher.