GIVEN most of us don’t watch free-to-air TV anymore, I’m not sure if game shows are still a thing. I assume they are; they seem like the sort of cheap, easy to make TV that would be very appealing to TV network executives.
Back before streaming TV, shows like Total Wipeout, It’s a Knockout and Takeshi’s Castle were very popular with the general public as well, offering the chance to watch competitors slipping, sliding, stumbling and falling their way to victory through a series of obstacles and games.
And now, you too can capture the feeling of being a contestant in one of those shows with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital for PC and PlayStation 4.
Fall Guys captures the appeal of those shows in a bright, colourful way to present something that is pure, wholesome, silly fun.
You play a “Fall Guy” – a kind of jellybean/penguin type entity – competing in an obstacle course game show with 59 other players in a race to get to the finish line, score the most points, or not fall into horrible slime.
The whole thing is set up like a TV show, with different events divided into “rounds” – ranging from a straightforward obstacle course to a game of soccer with massive footballs to trying to stay on a rotating drum above a slime pool.
The game is wonderfully easy to pick up and play – you can just jump in, play a few rounds, then jump out. It’s undemanding and quick, which is a good combination for a game like this.
Winning gets you crowns and kudos (which can be used to buy in-game outfits) as well as the satisfaction of being a winner.
There’s no violence, no blood, no swearing, no obnoxious teenagers in voice chat, and it’s all so endearing it’s hard to get mad at the game, even when things get frustrating or you keep missing an important jump timing – it’s all in good fun.
While it’s a lot of fun, there are some frustrating moments, particularly in any level that requires working as part of a team – it’s not fun being eliminated because the people you’re playing with are running around like headless chickens. Being eliminated because you mis-timed jumps and fell into slime, or got hit by a pendulum and sent flying is funny, being eliminated because your team sucks is not.
Some of the camera angles are a bit hard to see too, which can make getting out of a tight spot a bit of a challenge at times.
After several hours of play I haven’t been able to get past round three, so I’d certainly like to see some changes made to how the rounds are chosen – maybe removing team events for solo players, and reducing the frequency with which the punishingly hard ‘rising slime’ level appears. Tweaking the run speeds in the “tag” levels would be helpful too, since all the Fall Guys move at the same speed so chasing someone doesn’t always feel very productive unless they fall over.
Given the game’s enormous popularity, it’s been suffering server issues at launch – there’s just so many people trying to play at once it’s causing all sorts of headaches. Hopefully these will be sorted out shortly (they’ve already made significant improvements at time of writing) and we’ll get to see some new courses in future updates as well.
Overall though, the game is simply good, uncomplicated fun. Combined with its inherent silliness, bright colours, customisable characters and amusing ways to end up stacking oneself, there’s a lot to enjoy here if you aren’t looking for anything too complicated or involved.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout deserves all the success it’s getting, even if it does have some stumbles of its own.