Hands-on: Devolver delivers unique multiplayer with Fall Guys and Heave Ho
Devolver Digital has always had a badass, almost outlaw, vibe. The company's entire attitude toward industry norms is very much counterculture. That badassery aside, Devolver has a solid track record as far as its lineup, constantly partnering with rad developers and releasing awesome games on a consistent basis. Devolver's E3 2019 lineup was great once again, with an emphasis on innovative multiplayer games such as Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout and Heave Ho.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (Mediatonic)
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was easily one of the best multiplayer titles at this year's E3. The game was a surprise show stealer on account of its fun factor alone. In addition, developer Mediatonic is out to prove that the battle royale genre doesn't need to be relegated to shooter status.
Much like the beloved game show MXC — or the Japanese original Takeshi's Castle — Fall Guys is an elimination-based competition that's split up into multiple rounds. One hundred players engage in different minigames that feel straight out of MXC in a race for superiority. You have to place on the leaderboard in order to advance, and if you don't, you'll be knocked out and eliminated from the competition. The game ends when there is one Fall Guy left standing.
The Fall Guys E3 demo featured three minigames. The first was inspired by the door run challenge in MXC, with players racing toward multiple doors. The catch: Not every door could be busted open. While some doors featured blocks that fell over when someone ran through them, others were solid cement. Try to jump through these, and you'll collide in painful — and hilarious — fashion.
The second minigame had some players wearing tails and others completely tail-less while a timer counted down. In order to advance, players needed to have a tail before time ran out. What made this minigame so much fun was the obstacle course design of the enclosed space. There were swinging pillars, ramps, and chasms, and things got super exciting — and hyper frenetic —whenever I was either being chased by a tail-less Fall Guy or giving chase myself after other players had taken my tail.
The final minigame had all the players racing up a hill — once again with swinging obstacles — while giant, spiked boulders rolled down the hill. At the top of the hill was a giant crown. The game ended when one player dove for the crown and grabbed it.
While the minigames themselves are a total riot — everyone playing was letting out audible groans and cracking up on account of the insanity — it's the little things about Fall Guys that made it so awesome. For starters, the game is a bit physics-heavy, with the titular blob-like characters feeling floaty and overselling whenever they'd get hit by obstacles or crash into walls. In addition, the animations of these little guys were great and somewhat adorable, and seeing the cute little blobs getting tossed around was funny as hell
I love a good round of Apex Legends — it's easily my most played game of 2019 — but after so many shooters have dominated the battle royale genre, it's refreshing to see something completely different and off the wall. I loved the experience so much that when the folks at Mediatonic asked if I was down to give it another go, I enthusiastically jumped back in for round two — and I would've played a third game, but other press folks showed up for their appointments.
Whether or not you're burnt out on the battle royale formula, it's obvious that Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is meant to do something different, innovative, and completely bonkers. The madness will ensue when the game launches on PlayStation 4 and PC — with other platforms under consideration — in 2020.
Heave Ho (Le Cartel Studio)
Where Fall Guys was all about destructive, competitive battle royale tomfoolery, Heave Ho from Le Cartel Studio focuses heavily on teamwork and cooperation. You clear stages by traversing the treacherous pitfalls and maneuvering around wobbling, floating platforms, many of which are rigged to spin around or are fitted with nasty spikes.
The round ends when all players reach the goal. The tricky part is wrestling with the game's wild physics while the characters literally join hands to cohesively leap across deathtraps. If only one or a couple players make it to the end while other players meet a comedic demise, the remaining players can wait at the goal or attempt to lend a helping hand. Protip: It's always way more awesome when everyone goes back to help out, because usually something outrageous ends up happening, so yeah, go back and help your friends!
While you don't need four players to get a game of Heave Ho going, it's most fun with a full party. The game is just so silly and hilarious and entertaining that it's best when played with a group of friends. Hell, Heave Ho is even just plain fun to play with complete strangers!
Thankfully, we won't have to wait too long to jump into the insanity. Heave Ho is scheduled to launch on Nintendo Switch and PC later this summer.