Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC
If you’re the type of person who thinks there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room in the battle royale genre, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is here to show you otherwise. The game is essentially a cross between a minigame collection and an elimination-based battle royale game. Think Fortnite or Apex Legends, but instead of shooting your enemies, you’re racing against them through an obstacle course or rolling a giant ball down a hill to reach the finish line first. It’s a clever little concept, and it makes for a novel twist on an ever-growing genre.
It’s like MXC with a Nickelodeon coat of paint
If you watched Spike TV between the early and mid-2000s, there’s no way you hadn’t heard about Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, shortened to MXC. The game was an edited version of the 1980s Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle, itself branded as a sort of live-action video game. Regardless of which version you look at, though, the game show revolved around contestants participating in a series of wild challenges like running up steep hills while fake — but still very large and very heavy — boulders rolled down toward them. MXC. Takeshi’s Castle. Whatever you want to call it. It was fantastic.
Modern-day imitators have followed, with shows like Wipeout toning down the outrageous antics and characters that you saw on MXC. Then there’s American Ninja Warrior, which is almost like a cross between American Gladiators and Wipeout.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout appears to take inspiration from those classic game shows. Rather than starring human characters, though, the contestants are candy-colored — and really just straight-up candy-looking — squishy quasi-people. A total of 60 of these characters are dropped on an obstacle course, usually some type of race. The first few dozen contestants that reach the finish line advance to the next challenge. This continues across multiple challenges using different obstacle courses until only one player is left and crowned champion.
That’s a basic summary of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, but the game is far from a basic minigame collection. Obstacles are varied, and they’re all a great deal of fun. There are multiple variations of most challenges, too, so gameplay doesn’t get old but rather encourages you to play round after round even if you’re eliminated, just so you can see what other crazy tricks and traps the game has in store.
Sometimes you’ll have to walk across narrow, rotating beams. Other times you’ll have a bunch of closed doors in front of you, some of which are fake and won’t open — just dive headfirst into them and hope for the best. There are even challenges that temporarily team you up with other players to jump through more rings or collect more eggs than your opponents. It all crescendos in much the same way: with a final challenge to find a single victor.
A New Way to Battle Royale
There has never been a battle royale game quite like Fall Guys. The closest general video game comparison would probably be Mario Party, but even that’s a very different game due to its board game structure and minigame flow. Fall Guys is all about slowly eliminating players across multiple challenges.
The controls in Fall Guys are quite interesting because they’re not perfect, but it really doesn’t seem like developer Playtonic wanted them to be. Your candy-like creature is slippery, bumpy, and squishy, but controlling these guys is a lot of fun. You’ll bump into walls, obstacles, and other players a lot. Heck, you might even get frustrated when you keep getting tossed around by a large windmill or propeller blade. The chaos is all a part of the fun, and Fall Guys thrives because of that chaos.
Still, minor frustrations aside, the main problem is that there’s no way to invert X-axis or Y-axis camera controls. You’ll likely get used to it, but it seems like this feature should’ve been included in the final game at launch. Here’s hoping this functionality gets patched in soon.
The fondant-looking charm isn’t exclusive to just the characters in Fall Guys. Every stage is filled with pinks, baby blues, greens, and purples. The big obstacles are colorful, and everything looks like it’s covered in a cushioned mat so the little characters don’t get hurt when they get smacked in the face or land face-first on the floor.
The music in Fall Guys is fast-paced and feels right at home while you’re playing through the game’s various chaotic challenges. The characters themselves also let out yelps, cries, and cheers. There’s a real charm to just how outrageous the whole thing sounds.
Fall Guys Fallin’ Everywhere
Depending on how you play battle royale games, you’ll get varying degrees of mileage from Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Whether you’re jumping in for minutes at a time a few times a day, sitting down to play for an hour, or playing just one more round before realizing you’ve been playing all evening, Fall Guys is an absolute blast. Your efforts won’t go unrewarded, either. Aside from all the fun you’ll have, you’ll also earn in-game currency to unlock different outfits, colors, and items for your character. It’s a nice little extra sprinkled on top of this already-delightful game.
If you enjoy fun things that are really, really outrageous, comical, and just plain awesome, you should play Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. If not, you can go back to doing whatever boring, uncool thing you were wasting your time with.
Note: Falls Guys: Ultimate Knockout is available for free for PlayStation Plus subscribers through the month of August. If you’re a PS Plus subscriber, you should totally download it. It’s free!