Gang Beasts has been knocking around for a few years now, entering the scene as a debut indie from ___ on the PC and now making its way to console. A somehow effective and highly entertaining mix of clumsy ragdolls and wild flailing, Gang Beasts revolves around the simple idea of throwing everyone else out of the arena to win. Slip in some subtle-ish pop culture references and a flurry of obscure costume options, and there you have it; Gang Beasts in a nutshell.
The Xbox One release of Gang Beasts brings what has always felt like a couch-competitive multiplayer game comfortably into the arena in which it is most at home. Although the game can be played online, the insanity, competitiveness and inevitable rage which it induces in players is unarguably best suited to playing with friends in the living room. It is also a delightfully simple game to pick up and play. Given that your basic movement options are to walk, jump grab and punch your way to victory, there is no need for a lengthy tutorial level to get you started; anybody with the calm-minded will to beat their friends at all costs can grab a controller and join in.
Whilst the premise and theoretical execution of victory in Gang Beasts are simple on the face of things, strategy is everything in this game. Anybody can randomly grab and punch the other players in the match, but careful timing and considered implementation of your plan are the factors which will see you overcome the madness around you. Knowing the maps can also be the absolute key to victory though, with a vast variety of subtle mechanics to learn… and exploit. Sometimes, the map elements which you can use to your advantage are obvious. The underground train station, for example, brings with it the obvious benefit that you can throw your opponents onto the line. Other maps feature elements such as breakable suspension cables, floor panels or a giant fan which will blow you into the air. Map variety is certainly one of Gang Beasts’ strong points. Whilst each map is relatively small and simple, the range on offer keeps each round of the game feeling fresh and challenging.
On a related topic, fans of mixing it up will be in love and awe of the customisation options for characters in Gang Beasts. If you are going to inhabit a colourful blob-person whose sole aim in life is to throw other colourful blob-people out of a wrestling ring, you may as well do it in style! Gang Beasts’ dev team clearly thought the same thing, with a frankly wild range of colour and costume choices to choose from in the game. Anybody can wear a burger hat, but it takes a special kind of person to combine that with bright green skin, goat legs and a long, bushy, white beard. The Village People outfits appear to be largely present, too, but combining unusual and sometimes disturbing options often merits the most entertaining results. One thing is for sure; with this many options, there surely must be something for everyone to enjoy!
Sadly, somehow, for all of its entertainment value, Gang Beasts feels limited. Even with its different game modes, including free-for-all, team games, football and a relatively half-cooked horde mode, the ultimate experience and options for executing it are quite simple and eventually wears themselves out. Throwing your friends about the place can transition from funny to frustrating with the wrong crowd, and if one player masters the muddled mechanics of the game faster than another then the bout can become quite one-sided. For the first 30 minutes, Gang Beasts will feel like the best thing you have ever played. Beyond that, though, the repetition and lack of any real difficulty scaling can become samey.
Despite this somewhat critical analysis, it is hard not to recommend Gang Beasts as a funny, competitive and instantly playable party game. With the right amount of break in between sessions, the experience can maintain its fun factor with some consistency and the competition can feel fairly balanced each time. For players who have infrequent gaming sessions with friends, Gang Beasts is a very valid addition to their library. For those looking for a long-term title to dig into, however, this one might sadly be a miss.
- Developer: Boneloaf
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems, Linux, Wii U
- Publishers: Boneloaf, Double Fine, Skybound
This review is based on the Xbox One Version and can be purchased here.
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Gang Beasts is a silly multiplayer party game with surly gelatinous characters, brutal slapstick fight sequences, and absurd hazardous environments, set in the mean streets of Beef City.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 15.99