Simple, accessible, humorous and fun. Fall Guys is great family-friendly entertainment.
- Developer: Mediatonic
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Release date: 4th August 2020
- Genre: Battle Royale, Platforming
- Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4
- Reviewed on: Windows PC (Steam)
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Every now and again a game comes along that doesn’t rely on fancy graphics effects or complicated gameplay features to capture the hearts of gamers. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is beautifully simple, but this pick-up-and-play simplicity and accessibility has captivated millions of gamers since it’s launch.
Battle Royale games are hugely popular at the moment, but sometimes you don’t want to shoot people or be tied into a game that has a prohibitively high skill ceiling. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has found a brilliant niche for itself with its highly competitive but very entertaining non-violent take on the Battle Royale genre.
Think of Fall Guys as an inspired cross between Total Wipeout and Takeshi’s Castle. Up to sixty players line up at the start line, competing to be the first to complete an obstacle course or to win a team-based face-off. Swinging barriers, moving ramps, seesaws and many more obstacles are laid out in front of you, and you must jostle, barge, shove and bumble your way to the finish line, hopefully ahead of your competitors.
Making your way to the finish line is simple, in theory, but when you are clumped together with 59 other players all trying to make the same jump, or squeeze through the same narrow gap, it has hilarious potential.
The controls are simple enough for even the most inexperienced player to get to grips with; run, jump, dive or grab other players. It’s straightforward, but the challenge doesn’t only come from your opponents. Character movement has a lot in common with physics-based platformers like Human Fall Flat or Totally Reliable Delivery Service. There’s a solid weighty feel to your movement, and momentum is as important as timing if you are going to try to qualify for the next round.
Progression through the different courses and events is based on your finishing position, with the last players or team eliminated from the event over six rounds until a champion is crowned. Each event takes just a few minutes, and with short waiting times between rounds, it keeps the action flowing. If you finish before your competitors, you can enter spectator mode and check out how your competition is getting on. Similarly, if you are eliminated, you can either exit and start a new game or you can stay and watch the rest of the rounds and root for your friends (or have a good laugh at their expense).
There’s a decent amount of variety in the levels. Even if it’s possible to have played them all in a matter of hours, the developer has committed to updating the game with new levels and features similar to other games in the Battle Royale genre. I had some epic moments in my time with the game, and the unpredictable nature of the outcome means you are likely to have many memorable moments.
In one game type, some players have tails attached and you have to try to either grab a tail or stop others from taking yours. Anyone without a tail at the end of the round is eliminated. I survived most of the round expertly dodging those without tails, losing and gaining a tail a few times. With just 15 seconds on the clock, I found myself stalked by three other players. I dodged and dived, twisted and turned, until with just 2 seconds left one of them finally snatched my tail. As annoying as it was, it was still exhilarating. I cursed Fall Guy 1387 (all players have generic names), muttered under my breath for a few seconds, then jumped straight into another game.
Some of the team-based game types can be frustrating if you are matched up with a terrible team, but the gameplay within them is fun enough to keep this frustration at bay. In one game (that I lost), you start in two teams, with infected players in each team. The goal is for the infected players to grab the other team, making them infected too. It starts off slowly, but as more and more players become infected, the pressure ramps up until you are desperately trying to avoid hordes of players chasing you down. It reminded me of the fun we used to have playing Zombies on Halo, and even though I lost in the end, it was great fun losing!
I’ll be honest, I have far more stories of epic fails, harsh defeats and comedically bad mistimed jumps than I do of heroic victories, but it never stops me going back in for another round.
Everything you do in-game earns points that can then be redeemed for some of the numerous character customisation pieces. Success earns you more, but even if you fail miserably time after time, it’s still possible to grind your way to the best items. There are a few premium skins available that will cost real-world cash, but they don’t provide any gameplay advantage. I’m not a fan of pay-to-win mechanics, but cosmetic items like these are a great way for developers to earn enough money to keep supporting the game.
The graphics on Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout are cutesy and cartoony, which lends itself well to lower-end hardware. It runs at 4k and high frame rates on an Nvidia RTX 2060 but also hits a solid 1080p60 on a laptop with an AMD RX 560X. Character animations are smooth and funny, with your chunky character’s stumbles, dives, grabs and falls well-suited to the gameplay.
Even with a full lobby of sixty players, the netcode is well optimised and we had no perceptible issues with lag. Finding a match is quick and easy, and we had no disconnects or instability. The only frustration you’ll get in Fall Guys is from your opponents sabotaging your jumps or failing to grasp the concept of how a seesaw works.
Whether you get any kind of longevity from Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will depend on how much you enjoy occasionally frustrating platforming fun. There are only a limited number of courses available at the moment, however, with good support and frequent updates, you can expect new additions to keep arriving and help keep gameplay fresh. If you have friends who play, too, then you will no doubt get even more enjoyment from the game. It’s not the kind of game that you will play for endless hours, but as a regular pick-up-and-play bit of fun between games, for when you don’t have much time to play or for when you just want to kick back and relax, Fall Guys is ideal.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is fantastically good fun. Even if there are no long-term goals, the XP you earn after each round provides extra motivation for gameplay as you strive to unlock more customisation options. The simple gameplay is accessible to even the youngest of gamers, and the non-violent approach to Battle Royale makes it a game that appeals to and is suitable for players of any age. Low system requirements mean it runs well on even modest hardware, and for the low price, it’s an absolute bargain considering how much fun it is.