Gang Beasts Preview – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Gang Beasts Preview




Name one thing the current PC gaming scene is sorely missing at this time and age. I won’t take any guesses because I’m slightly fearful of what you might have noted – instead, let me tell you what Gang Beasts is all about: hot seat multiplayer. Imagine WWE, but where all actors are so drunk that they can barely stand on their two shuddering legs. Instead of pulling off intricate “fighting” choreographed moves, they randomly flail their appendages, trying not to fall over and deliver a finishing move to their own fragile bodies. If you can summon that image, you’re able to get a pretty good idea of how Gang Beasts works. And all of this plays out on a single keyboard, more often than not.

Taking control over one of the numerous customizable jelly fighters, you and up to seven other players spawn in an arena with a bunch of environmental dangers and try to survive until the very end. The objective is to try and kill off all other players by knocking them out as hard as is humanely possible, picking their gelatinous bodies up and throwing them into the nearest pit of death. Simple! But not quite. While most games try to offer as precise and immediate controls as they can be, Boneloaf decided to go the other route with Gang Beasts. The comparison to a drunken brawl wasn’t an accidental one, you know – the movement motions of player characters are of semi-intentional nature. Sure, movement is simple enough with four directional controls, but grabbing, “taunting” and crouching are a brilliant combination of complete randomness and physics-powered flailing all over the place. Gang Beasts currently offers about half a dozen maps, ranging from the tame fighting ring, over the grinding facility (?) all the way to the giant functional ferris wheel. While fighting other jelly-dudes might sound simple and predictable on paper, that isn’t the case at all. Thankfully.

Each fighter spawns on different side of the selected map, and from that point onwards, your entire fighting style depends completely on your own actions. You might try to go for low punches while doing your best to evade other players’ punches by running, crouching and flailing at the same time. Or you may want to try to simply pick others up and throw them out of the ring or into one of the many level-specific environmental hazards. The ferris wheel, for example, sports a floor built entirely out of planks that can be moved around by interacting players. The subway has trains that, well, run over the poor sods that get flicked under the tracks. The grinding facility, or whatever the hell that is, has a giant meat grinder in the middle of the level. Take a guess at what it’s supposed to do. The best thing is – dying isn’t frustrating at all! Due to the light-hearted nature of the game (sans the grinder), as well as its hotseat-focused gameplay, Gang Beasts probably won’t anger you at all. After all, when you’re playing with a bunch of friends over, how this game is supposed to be played, everything is about having fun. Getting knocked out is a part of that process. Another part of the gameplay is figuring out how each level works. Is there a chance of jumping from one driving truck onto another? Can I crawl to the other gondola while the ferris wheel is turning? Can I grab your avatar by the head and hold him from getting shredded to pieces by the grinder? It’s the inventive nature of the game that truly stands out.

Graphically, Gang Beasts isn’t special in any way. The jelly-fighters are simplistic bags of different colours of jell-o, with a cap or a costume should you be so inclined. The environments are clean-cut and simple, but pleasing nonetheless. The shadows add much to the overall atmosphere, and the game shouldn’t strain even older computers. I say shouldn’t because it really does. Granted, the game is in its early stages of development so optimization isn’t on the to-do list just yet, but still. Now, there is one very important factor one must consider before considering to invest in Gang Beasts. While this is debatable, the Steam version of the game is still somewhat limited compared to its freebie version. Indeed, Gang Beasts exists in a completely free of charge build, that is also optimized better, has AI mobs to deal with and comes with more maps. It’s sure to get outdated pretty fast, but it’s there if you want to check out what the game is about before spending your hard earned monies on it.

As it currently stands, the game offers some limited customization so that you can differ yourself from the other players, but this aspect is bound to be improved upon in the coming months, just like everything else. While currently a bit light on content, Gang Beasts is the best party game I’ve played in the last couple of years, and that’s saying something.