What is the most important part of a video game? Story? Graphics? A purpose? If you answered any of these, then Fall Guys might not be for you. But if you yelled out “FUN,” the PlayStation 4 release is perfect. In an era where so many games are trying to wow us with what they are capable of, very few fall back on the idea of simplicity as a way to be successful.
For Fall Guys, it takes the idea that simple is best and has resulted in one of my favorite video game experiences in 2020. The concept is very easy: You are on a game show with 59 other contestants, competing in five rounds of challenges. Whoever is the last one standing at the end of the fifth round is the winner. The game loosely creates a thin universe by claiming this is all a TV show, but in reality, it’s just a bunch of different colored marshmallow figures running around chaotically trying to complete objectives while the world does whatever it can to take you down.
What you do in the five rounds is random, and there are a variety of different game modes. Some are a race to the finish, while others have you score soccer balls into nets, steal tails off other players, try to stay on a giant cylinder and not fall off, or just survive as long as possible so you aren’t the last person to fall in the goo at the bottom. You may play the same map and mode a few times, but the order is always different and that helps keep games fresh. It also keeps you coming back for more with a bit of random excitement to see what you could possibly get next. As you play through the different modes, the hope is that you might be able to get a little bit farther if you get lucky this time around.
The controls are simple. Move, jump, dive, and grab. The control itself is a little cumbersome, but you can tell it is by design. You have just enough control over yourself and your movements, but the movement is just finicky enough that it never feels precise. It’s clear this is not a game meant to challenge your platforming skills and reward victory to the best, most precise jumping skills. Randomness is constantly at play, and sometimes seems to take over altogether. There will be many “I SWEAR I COULD MAKE THAT JUMP” and “I’M STUCK AGAINST 20 OTHER PEOPLE” moments that will leave you enraged and also maybe in tears, hopefully from laughter.
Also, whoever decided to add the ability to grab other players is either a maniacal genius or a sadist, because it has brought out the absolute worst of mankind. Other players will grab you to pull you back so they can get ahead. They will grab you to make you fall to your doom and be eliminated. They will stand at the end of the course and wait for players to come by so they can grab them and make them lose. Of course, it doesn’t always work out for them because of how janky the controls are. Sometimes, they will successfully grab you, and other times they will be hiding behind a propeller trying to push people off into the abyss only to make themselves fall over and cost them the round. I witnessed the latter, and it was sweet karmic justice.
It doesn’t take very long to understand what is going on, and that is to the game’s benefit. This is the kind of game where getting into the action quickly is a big part of what makes it so sticky. As rounds go on, players are eliminated in relatively large bunches. You’ll run through these Wipeout-style obstacle courses, and speed is important here, too. Take too long and you will eventually be eliminated and forced to go back to the title screen and start this weird battle royale-style game all over again. There are plenty of players on the servers right now, though, which means finding games almost instantly is not a problem.
— Violence (@PhilKenSaban) August 9, 2020
There is an incredible dopamine effect in playing Fall Guys, and I’m not sure when it will end. Thanks to the number of people who get eliminated every round, along with some luck, you will sneak your way into later rounds fairly often. So even when you do get eliminated, there is an overwhelming feeling that if you just play a little more you might finally win it all and take the crown. Of course, to do that you will have to get through the rest of the players, and not everyone is nice.
Its simplicity and quick fun, win or lose, makes Fall Guys is brilliant. It’s pure, stupid fun and chaos incarnate in a video game. I don’t know how long the good times with this are going to last because the 60 player knockout round is the only mode in the entire game, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even if a grab or two ruins my chances at fake TV glory.