When I first arrived in the world of Gang Beasts, I found myself on a Ferris Wheel creaking slowly along the edge of a pier. It seemed quite the tranquil at first for my little red blob wearing a funny hat. That was until I reached the bottom of the circle, and my friend, the flailing yellow blob above me leapt from his pod and landed hard on the roof of mine.
My housemate sitting next to me grinned wickedly as the pod shook before ascending again. I can’t say for certain what happened over the next forty seconds, but thrashing and maniacal laughter were heavily involved. Once my senses came back to me, my red friend was dangling from his pod, with his yellow nemesis clinging to his foot.
Kicking did little, but with a flash of brilliance my scarlet saviour let go of the Ferris Wheel and plunged to the water below. The yellow beast would hit the sea before me, and I would win. It was fool proof, until a yellow arm snagged the fence on the edge of the pier. Suddenly we were inverted, with my life in my enemies hands. It didn’t take him long to figure it out.
My first match ended with howls of laughter and frustration. It is also the perfect example of what Gang Beasts tries to accomplish. This is a party game, and some of the most fun you can possibly have with some friends in the same room. The one downside, the one issue that blackens Gang Beasts colourful visuals is the fact that currently, its only available on PC.
The controls are almost impossible on a keyboard. On top of that, local multiplayer is a lot more hassle, from the finding the controllers to awkwardly crowding around a smaller screen. Gang Beasts supports up to eight players, a frantic mess I didn’t have the pleasure of indulging in, but something that cannot be done in the normal PC setup comfortably. While the shared space of a living room and a console will be much better suited to inviting round some friends and slapping each other silly.
The mechanics of the game are balanced so perfectly, so that gameplay is a joyful mix between madness, and a different kind of madness all together. The basic premise is simple, remain the last blob standing. To do this, all you have to do is punch your enemies to knock them out, before grabbing them an flinging them off the side of the arena.
It only takes about five seconds to master the controllers (assuming you’re using a pad), and there is no real discernible tactic other than wailing, jumping and flailing. Veterans with hours f of experience can have their skills bested by a first timer, and likewise, first timers can come to the game with dramatically different experiences.
Luckily, losing is as equally comical as winning in Gang Beasts, where its almost impossible to feel angrily competitive. Maybe its the bright colours and absurd concept that keeps the game light hearted, or maybe its the often hilarious deaths, but even the worst of sore losers will struggle to whine about being tossed off a Ferris Wheel or into the path of an oncoming metro.
That being said this is not a fully released game just yet, and appears only on Early Access. The developers, now backed by Double Fine Productions, promise a host of additional levels and features to accompany the full launch, but naturally, there are a few minor bugs to work out. Although the mechanics are purposely awkward, sometimes they are downright broken. This can be a little frustrating, but probably goes by largely unnoticed in the generally chaotic surrounding. Whether you’re desperately holding on for life, or trying to fling an enemy into the fires below, sometimes, for some reason, something might go wrong.
The most amusing of these tiny glitches, is that occasionally, your tiny blob will just fall down. It might be a button press built in to startle and entertain, or it might be some strange fault, but its an excellent aside when your, or your enemies characters, falls down for no reason. If it is broken, I pray that they don’t fix it. When losing isn’t a big deal, the hand of God forcing you to lose is all the funnier.
Gang Beasts is one of the best local multiplayer available on computer. That is possibly due the fact that PCs aren’t the best device to build a local, sofa jostling rough and tumble. It feels like Super Smash Bros built by a genius child who didn’t have the right to characters. And without the hardcore fans either. There’s nothing you need to learn, no combos to master or strategies you need to memorise. All you need are some friends, a big screen and some controllers too.
If you like hosting gaming night, go out and buy Gang Beasts, and work out the rest later.
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