Every year has that game.
That game that people remember, people talk about, and everyone seemed to play. It isn’t necessarily the “best game” or the GOTY, but it wins a specific popularity vote. It is the game that helped define the year. When you think back on a year, it is a game that pops in your head. I think it is really fitting, that 2020, a year that has been really dark, a year that has been filled with isolation, hate, and fear, has a game that seemed to resonate with gamers because it was the opposite of all that. Such a bright and happy game, arrived to save the day in such a dark and sad year. A game where dozens of minion-like goofy characters hilariously and ridiculously trip over each other and squeeze through small spaces, in a year when human isolation and separation has been at an all time high.
Each year has that game. 2016 had Overwatch. 2017 had Breath of the Wild. 2017-2018 had the Fortnite phenomenon. 2019 had Apex Legends. 2020 has… FALL GUYS.
Thanks in no small part to the clever business decision to partner with Sony on making the game free to play via PS Plus at launch, this game got a boost unlike any other. Being a day one release on PS Plus is almost unheard of, as the free games with plus are always older games. This is also bigger than being “regular” free as the game gets a store spotlight unlike any free game. Its deal with Sony would give it the popularity and the funds to not rely on just micro transactions at launch. Rather than having monetization that is in your face, players could focus on the game. It was an incredibly clever release strategy on the part of Devolver Digital, and it paid off; Fall Guys is the number one most downloaded PS Plus game EVER.
I will be honest, while I remember seeing the game’s initial reveal, it completely fell off my radar. I completely forgot about this game, and it wasn’t even in either of my two most anticipated list articles for 2020. Had it not been for it’s PS Plus partnership it is possible, I and countless other gamers would have missed out on this little gem.
Fallguys just puts a smile on your face. It came at such a great time too. Prior, I had just finished play-throughs of Last of Us 1 and 2, and while those games are phenomenal, I desperately needed a little relief. Fall Guys is everything opposite Last of Us 2. It is stupid, happy, colorful, and just meant to make you laugh and smile. After being stuck inside for months, the bright colors and fun premise really just resonated with me. I think if this game had come out any other year, maybe it would have been less special, but the context of this year really gave this game an X factor.
As for the game itself, the premise is simple. 40-60 players group up for a few rounds of a gameshow like series of levels. The wide variety of the rounds really are one of the things that makes this game special. Whether you are trying to remember what fruit is on the ground before it falls away, trying to traverse a series of seesaws, to teaming up to push a balls into your teams court, this variety is definitely there.
The gameplay isn’t perfect, there are levels that feel a little broken, where you are punished for being in front, or levels seem like winning feels more like luck than skill. If I could change one thing about this game, I would take away the clipping, the interaction with characters. I know that is part of the charm, laughing at the characters falling and tripping over each other, but it would make this game more about skill, who is truly fastest. Some of the most annoying parts is surviving several rounds and then losing to something not really your fault because another player tripped and fell and caused you to. The chaos can be a little annoying when you want to win, even if it is funny and makes you smile.
At the end of the day, I can see the long term value for the game, and it’s popularity beyond just being free or the new thing. This game is a welcome and happy break from so many shooters and mature games when I just want to enjoy some bright colors and goofy competition.
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