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Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout review

Fumble your way to victory.

I've always wanted to be on a game show. There's something exciting about running through wacky, convoluted challenges and obstacle courses like the ones seen on Takeshi's castle, or even the notorious Total Wipeout. But getting a spot on these shows is tough, especially when thousands of other people dream of being a contestant just as much as you do. But that doesn't mean it has to stay a dream. Sure, I may not get to scramble up a muddy hill while dodging giant boulders, and yea, I may never get concussed by a wall of hydraulic-powered boxing gloves; but I can still get the rush of victory as I fulfill my dream of game show glory, in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.

Fall Guys has without a doubt been one of the most popular games of the year, and for good reason. It's not only great fun, but it does a great job of scratching that game show itch. The game pits you against 59 other players turned contestants, in a series of obstacle courses, team challenges, and tests of wit and survival. By the end only a few of you remain, and whoever is left standing wins the Fall Guys crown; the hallmark of a true game show champ. At its core, it adopts the contemporary battle-royale genre's game design, yet it never feels like one. Where much of the battle-royale titles on the market opt to be shooters, Fall Guys stands apart as something truly different and unique; thanks primarily to its game show guise.

With a plethora of unique and diverse levels, every time you jump into another game show feels fresh and exhilarating. Each show is randomised, so while you might face the hectic Door Dash first one game, the next you may have to jump your way through Whirlygig, making every time you hop in new, and somewhat unpredictable. Where the game shines is in it's gauntlet style levels, which can range from the obstacle races of Hit Parade (and the brand new Knight Fever), to the more high stakes and pressure filled Tiptoe and Jump Club. The gauntlet levels never fail to ignite your competitive fire, because when you are in a sea of 59 equally fired up competitors, you ain't gonna want to be the guy that loses. It's amazing how such a simple game can give you such an adrenaline rush, either when it comes right down to the wire in the final round, or when you have to bite the bullet to make that last qualifying spot. Fall Guys' level design gives the game an oddly complimentary juxtaposition, where it is simultaneously competitive, yet feel-good in equal measure.

Fall Guys also features several team based levels, where you must work with your assigned group to qualify for the next round. While these levels are as well designed as their free-for-all counterparts, there's always something more frustrating about them. The game can always be frustrating, especially when you get eliminated because some guy timed his jump poorly on Jump Club, bumping into you to stem the weight of his failure. But the team modes offer a different level of frustrating, because as frustrating as it is to get eliminated because of someone else, it's far worse when that someone else is someone on your team, who really isn't trying.

The icing on the gameplay cake, is how accessible the game is. While the levels are intricately designed, actually playing the game is pretty easy. All you are required to do is jump, move, grab, and propel yourself forwards; something easily attributed to four/five buttons on a controller. The most complex string of actions you'll need to take is timing a grab to climb up a wall, and even that is easy. It produces a relatively small skill range, where everyone is on the same level, and anyone can win. This makes Fall Guys one of the most accessible and easily playable games on the market.

Though what makes Fall Guys so special is by far its lively and vibrant personality. It is first of all, one of the most colourful games I've played in recent memory, with the levels being constructed out of foam blocks of sky blue, bright yellow, hot pink, and even some cherry red. Everything on the course looks like a rainbow has been splashed all over it, whether it be the floor, moving tiles, giant fruit or even its multitude of obstacles. The game's backdrops only add to this cheerful aesthetic, with the edges of the world dotted with gumdrop-esque snow-capped mountains, and little fall guys watching from hot-air balloons.

Fall Guys personality crosses over into it's soundtrack too, which is not only funky, and exciting too. Its bubbly beats and techno style are what completes the game show theme, giving the show its own theme, not to mention the background music throughout the levels. From the second a round starts, so too does a fast-firing, upbeat score that immediately gets you in the zone, and ready to win.

Of course, I can't finish this off without mentioning the titular fall guys themselves. every player is their own little fall guy, who is basically a little anthropomorphic bean person, that just so happens to be one of the cutest game characters I've ever seen. What's more, you even get to customise your little fall guy with a variety of styles, colours and patterns to make your little bean stand-out form the crowd. Everything from their off-balance running, disproportionate hands and feet, and intermittent woo-ing makes these little guys a delight to play as.

I can honestly say that Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is so far my favorite game of the year. It's fun, thrilling and a competitively joyful experience. It's cute art style, rhythmic sound, and diverse selection of levels, makes this without a doubt one of the most enjoyable and pleasant games of the year, and one I can't wait to play more of.


Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC.

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