Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review: Stumble and fall?

Fall Guys is a battle royale game, and before you roll your eyes at me – I am not the biggest fan of this genre, but I think Fall Guys is pretty cool, so stick with me. It is a battle royale game for those people who suck at battle royale games, like me. I have never won a round of Fortnite, never won a round of Warzone and never won at Tetris 99, but in Fall Guys, even losing is pretty fun. That is something that is difficult to say for those other titles, for me at least. I played a lot of platformers growing up, and I like the battle royale concept, it has just never been tailored to me. With the exception of Tetris, which I love, I’m just bad at.

Fall Guys is presented as a game show, with several challenges testing your dexterity, teamwork and memory. 60 personalised Teletubbies (pictured throughout this review) enter an episode which consists of about 5 rounds, but only one Mr Blobby can win the crown.

Let’s take a look and decide whether Fall Guys is a knockout, or if it falls flat on its face.

 

Just for show

If you can’t tell already from the screenshots, Fall Guys is bright and colourful, the colour palette is nothing short of garish and I love it. It is almost too bright and obnoxious for me on some days, but compared to a drab alternative, it is instantly recognisable. Everything looks all cuddly and squishy, it is a world where I would not mind living.

The soundtrack is equally bright, being the audio equivalent of eating a bag full of Flying Saucers washed down with cheap, own brand cherryade. The music on the main menu is so catchy and seems to play at a frequency which resonates almost too perfectly throughout my house, I can hear it from every room, no matter the volume. It’s bright, cheerful, bouncy and suits the gameshow aesthetic perfectly. We need shows like this to make a comeback.

I loved TV shows like It’s a Knockout, The Crystal Maze, Fort Boyard and Takeshi’s Castle growing up. The love for these kinds of shows was one of the reasons I went and did Tough Mudder. It was a dream of mine to one day participate on one of these game shows, and while this sadly hasn’t come to fruition yet, a session playing Fall Guys isn’t bad preparation for when the day rolls around. What is it like to play Fall Guys? Well….

 

Hi, I’m Ross and welcome to Fall Guys

For each round, there is a pool of about 25 minigames that are randomly picked, with only a fraction of the competitors being awarded a place in the next round. The more rounds go by, the more fierce the competition becomes. Believe me, winning a crown in Fall Guys makes you feel like the god of this inflatable arena. The minigames are split in 4 different categories – race, survival, team challenge and finals.

 

Run guy, run

First up, we usually have a simple race. Each of the courses has a unique obstacle or gimmick, whether these are spinning platforms, huge rotating arms to avoid or seesaws above bottomless pits. The rules are simple, make it to the finish before the cut-off and progress to the next round.

My favourite of these is the Door Dash, a copy of Knock Knock from Takeshi’s Castle. An army of players storm towards a decreasing number of doors, some of which will open when tackled, others are sealed shut, this leads to some devastating pile-ups. This congestion is the source of most of the fun here, with players tripping over constantly as their avatars cry out “woo”, “oooh” and “wee” – it is difficult not to crack a smile and chuckle at the absurdity. Other course like Dizzying Heights or Hit Parade are also a blast.

Most of these races are brilliant fun, but then you have course like seesaw. This course makes you question the brain power of other alleged humans in the world, even more than the pandemic already has. Some players apparently cannot fathom the physics behind weighing scales, if you get caught in a pack of these cretins, your progress is all but over.

The platforming during these races are super wonky, meaning that you are constantly tripping, falling and fumbling. This is by design, some of my hilarious highlights of games have been due to these physics, but equally some of my frustrations lie here also – screaming “just get up, please!” springs to mind.

Between rounds there is a funky jingle that plays, I can’t help but wiggle to the beat as I sit playing cross-legged (yes, I still play in that posture at the age of 26).

 

Don’t fall, guy

Survival rounds are an overall fun time too. Here, the objective is to be the last guy standing, once a number of players have perished, the game will move on. The best of these are Rollout and Block Party. Rollout has you moving across several cylindrical platforms, avoiding gaps that will cause you to fall into the sludgey depths below. Block Party is similar to something like the gameshow The Wall – you must stay on a narrow platform as rows of blocks head towards you, ducking and weaving where possible to stop being shoved off like a two pence pusher on Scarborough seafront.

There isn’t much more to say about these, they’re a great time, especially when playing with friends and trying to screw one another over. There are also a few variations on “tig” – or “tag” if you’re American, requiring you to steal tails from other players, if you have a tail by the end, you go through. These are chaotic and fun for the most part, but definitely show the imprecision of the grabbing controls, similar to the physics, this is by design. The fruit memory one is also a bit of a drag, but hey, you can’t win them all.

 

Fall together, right now

You also have a few team games in here, now I know I mentioned how Seesaw made me question the mental state of competitors, but these take it to the next level. Trying to work together in Fall Guys tends to be an absolute mess, I ain’t perfect, but I try my best at least.

These challenges require you to work together, which a lot of the time just is not possible. The best of these is the Rocket League inspired Fall Ball, it is football, but with blobby men, it’s fun. There are others which ask you to push a huge ball through an obstacle course with your team mates – nightmare.

Fall Guys Guide: How to win at Fall Ball

These team games are super tricky and it is frustrating to have your progress squandered by incompetent allies, luckily jumping into a new game is quick and easy. These games also function as a great way to thin out the herd by cutting up to 50% of you in a single round. Like the rest of this game, it is all perfectly designed chaos.

 

Crowned, King Guy

Last up, after the wheat has been separated from the chaff, the men from the boys, the Lucky Charms from the Cheerios – we have the finale. This is one of three games, Fall Mountain, Royal Fumble or Hex-A-Gone.

Royal Fumble is a sigh inducing final round, with it being a recycled tail grabbing game, have the tail at the end to win. Fall Mountain is an uphill course full of falling debris and copious hazards. This is the first game I won on and there was utter joy found in seeing my competitors miss the final jump, only to dash ahead and steal the crown. Lastly is Hex-A-Gone, the best. Here you must be the last guys standing on multiple levels of disappearing platforms, it gets surprisingly tactical, but is always tense as each player descends level-by-level towards defeat.

Fall Mountain and Hex-A-Gone are a great final test of your skills, with Royal Fumble just falling a little flat – this has been addressed by the developers as it now appears in rotation far less often – an encouraging move.

When you win, you have the most fun, when you lose, you still have a reasonable amount of fun. I think this is the real strength of Fall Guys.

 

From fall guy to fly guy

After each episode, you are awarded money and experience (and hopefully a crown) for your efforts. These can all be spent in the store for cosmetic upgrades to make your Fall Guy look like a Fly Guy. This uses the Fortnite store front, obviously, with items only being in stock for 24 hours at a time, making that microtransaction button ever so tempting. Luckily, the currency and experience points are handed out at a decent rate, at least at the time of writing this. Hopefully this isn’t slowed down later on to wring more money out of those who stick around.

The cosmetics are all pretty good too, I have a mallard costume – I love it. Whatever you’re into, superheroes, pirates, hotdogs or ducks, the store has you covered, provided you sign in on that specific day. There is certainly some envy when you see a player in a costume you don’t have yet, this just makes me want to sign in every day to check, and just like that, they have me hooked.

The longevity of Fall Guys really rests with the developers, if they keep adding new games, costumes and tweaking the rotation, I can see myself signing in pretty often. I doubt it is going to explode like Fortnite, but that’s okay, Media Tonic should be extremely proud of what they have created and I would love to keep supporting it in future. There seems to be a lot of community feedback being addressed at the moment too which makes me extra optimistic to where Fall Guys could be in a year or two.

 

Overall, does it stumble and fall?

At the moment, I have a couple of wins under my belt and I’m looking forward to trying to secure some more. Each attempt is never wasted, with plenty of rewards up for grabs and the low skill ceiling means that anyone can be in with a shot at the crown. I imagine this is how twelve year-olds feel when they jump out of the Battle Bus on Fortnite – this could be the one. I have never thought that when entering a game of Fortnite, but in Fall Guys, I do. It makes every game viable and exciting.

I picked it up for free on Playstation Plus, what a bargain and a great way to start the game off with a strong player-base. Whether I would recommend paying money for it depends on your attitude towards online multiplayer games. They’re never normally my jam, but I dig Fall Guys a lot, so that must count for something. If any of this sounds fun to you, I would pick it up and get on the hype early, if you have a PS4, why aren’t you playing already!?

One thought on “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout Review: Stumble and fall?

  1. Thank you for very in-depth and interesting article! I very much feel the same emotions towards the game as you do! I decided to take a different route and wrote an article on what I think Fall Guys teaches us about humanity. If you have time, it would be great if you could check it out and let me know your thoughts! Thanks and all the best 🙂

    Like

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