So anyone that knows me on a personal level or from the other side of a two way mirror will know that I don’t play well with others. I think I’ve got this boiled down to 2 reasons, 1; when I’m playing against others the idea that there are people out there that are better than me hurts my ego so badly that I go into an emotional downward spiral causing me to question my self-worth, and 2; when I play co-op with people I don’t know I get impatient towards others for not following my strategy and inevitably fuck everything up leaving me left looking like a twat for trusting someone with the IQ somewhere between a sea sponge and a damp cloth. If you haven’t already guessed I’m not in a good place this week so here’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
Fall Guys is a multiplayer battle-royale where 60 players are pitted together in a series of Takeshi’s Castle/Total Wipeout esc. mini games whittling the numbers down round by round until the final round where the last… thing? standing takes the crown. When you play, you gather a currency called “Kudos” which can be used to purchase skins and costumes for you character. When you win a game you get a crown which can be used to purchase premium items.
Aesthetically the game is quite pleasing, it’s very colourful and cutesy. This is also reflected in the character you play as. You play as some sort of sentient jelly-bean that as previously mentioned can be customised to looks like a pigeon or wear other ridiculous outfits. It has a certain charm that makes it warm and inviting. Another aspect I enjoyed was it’s simplicity to play, the controls consist of run, move camera, jump, dive and grab, meaning the game doesn’t take you long to learn so you can jump straight into the action. I like that this means that seasoned veterans have little strategic advantage over new players making for more of an even playing field, however this does mean that a lot of the rounds are based more on luck than actual skill. This is especially true at the start where you have gangs of contestants trying to occupy the same places in both space and time leading to pileups of bodies tripping over each other and Three Stooges style jams between obstacles.
Despite all the nice I just said about it, overall I find the game to be very hollow and empty. Maybe a host, an audience, some commentary would make the game feel more alive. It seems to me the developers have missed the point of what makes the aforementioned gameshows fun. You don’t watch Total Wipeout to watch people be competent and complete the course (That’s what Ninja Warrior is for), you watch it to see people get sucker punched and to miserably fail. This makes for good television when it’s somebody else, not so much when the person falling to their doom for the umpteenth time is you.
To me the game lacks purpose and the rewards are massively out weighed by the effort one must put in to get them. If you win you get a crown which you can spend on items so that when you next play the game you can wear a funny hat. Imagine if Katniss, when she won The Hunger Games instead of winning her freedom she won the right to fight in the next Hunger Games dressed as cheeseburger? The game is a constant perpetual struggle with no true winners except for those who run the game making money off of watching us run in our never ending hamster wheels, enticing us to keep running by dangling meaningless cosmetic accessories in front of us like a carrot on a stick. It is a complete waste of time and completely detrimental to my mental wellbeing. All this would be forgiven if the game was actually fun to play, which it was to start with but as I repeated the same levels over and over again they became more bothersome than fun.
Is this really what video games have become in the Micro-transaction era? I feel that video game developers see gamers as nothing but wallets with thumbs, dangling us upside-down and shaking to see what falls out. Bow down and surrender your hard earned cash to the faceless corporations to which you have signed away your mortal soul for your jelly bean novelty sunglasses. I hope that an extra circle of hell is created for these people where they must play Fall Guys until they mass enough points to win their freedom, only to be beaten at the last second by hackers. Everyone, rise up against your suppressors, break the chains of oppression and demand substance, invigorating stories and enriching gameplay that will stay with you long after you’ve finished and walked away from it.
I should be feeling better next week, hopefully.