In recent months, Bethesda has found out first hand, that releasing a title just months after its initial announcement may not be as smart as it seems. As each and every third-party title which the developer in question has released this year, has seemingly tanked, and failed to top the charts, even when selling for pennies. And while the aforementioned business manoeuvre may not have been beneficial for Bethesda, it surely was for many gamers world over, as nobody likes waiting years for a title to finally launch, and especially a title as promising as Double Fine published Gang Beasts.
At this point, it feels like Gang beasts has been announced a decade ago. A title which has been initially announced during PlayStation 4’s launch year, has spent years out of the console’s view, as its early-access development, which has been seemingly progressing at a snail’s pace didn’t inspire many with confidence. And some even have begun to speculate that Gang Beasts may in-fact never launch on Sony’s console, as since the initial announcement, Double Fine has omitted the PlayStation 4 version of the title from the vast majority of its press materials.
The radio silence in regards to Gang Beasts was surely disappointing. However, after months, if not years of silence, Double Fine has finally made the step in the right direction, and announced late last month, that Gang Beasts, will launch on PlayStation 4, on the 12th of December. And now, it is finally here, in all its weird and wobbly, gelatinous glory, which was evading PlayStation 4 players for a very long time.
The core premise of Gang Beasts is to fight other jelly-baby fighters, either off or online, for the ultimate glory, and funfair. And while the combat-centric in-game modes vary very little from one to another, as they all mainly revolve around throwing enemies into pits, grinders, incinerators, or endless oceans, they are not the only option at players’ disposal.
In addition to PVP modes such as brawl, Gang Beasts also features a co-op mode where players can fight against waves of enemies, which grow in size and number with which and every wave. And where the first wave has one fight against a couple of enemies his/her own size, the fourth has the player challenge multiple enemies, which are two, if not three times player’s size. And if one grows tired of fighting either bots, or other humans, he/she can opt-in for a football/soccer mode, where players can square off against each other in a no holds barred game of football.
When it comes to the variety, Gang Beasts is really lacking, as in terms of modes, it is rather barren and overly simplistic. And I can see many growing tired of all the in-game modes, with which the title has launched. And while modes such as brawl will satisfy many, they’ll do so only for a short while. And given the seemingly endless amount of possibilities, it is a true shame that Gang Beasts doesn’t feature modes such as Royal Rumble, or even athletics related modes such as climbing, hurdles, or even long jump – modes which could really boost the title at hand up a notch.
Gang Beasts as a premium indie title, surely lacks the variety when it comes to the in-game modes. However, it compensates for it ten-fold with its wonderfully quirky stages, which themselves can provide many with countless hours of entertainment. From the ring, through the elevators, all the way down to the trucks, Gang Beasts provides one with levels, which feature so many layers of complexity, that they change the otherwise simplistic title, into a wobbly game of chess. Yes, I can simply knock my opponent out, and throw him/her off of the elevator, but I can avoid getting knocked out myself by simply breaking the elevator’s window, jumping onto the other elevator, and drop kicking my opponent as he/she makes an attempt to make it over to me.
The amount of possibilities and outcomes, within the vast majority of levels is borderline endless. As a single level can provide one with so many fun, and entertaining moments, that most will replay some levels into the proverbial infinity just to see what happens next. But before one even reaches this point, he/she will first have to accustom him/herself with the title’s controls which at times feel rather sluggish and unpredictable.
Gang Beasts features a handful of basic attacks such as grappling, punching, kicking, and headbutting, and those can be combined into more devastating attacks when chained with running, and/or jumping. But when basic-motion actions such as jumping come into play, Gang Beasts turn into a rather unpredictable, and at times messy title. At times, drop kicks result in your character just sitting down, diving headbutts result in uncontrollable dives, which can launch the player past his/her opponent, and straight off of the map. And chaining jumping with climbing can result in an instant game-over, as at times, making a jump while climbing can slingshot the player character ten meters into the air, and off the solid ground, straight towards his/her doom.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Gang Beasts is an incredibly fun, but rather unpredictable title. And while some could argue that polishing out title’s quality-of-life, and combat related flaws is borderline impossible, they would ultimately be wrong. And that’s because Human Fall Flat, an adventure game, which has launched earlier this year, revolves around exactly the same jelly-baby mechanics, but unlike Gang Beasts, Human Fall Flat’s core mechanics are borderline flawless. And while Gang Beasts should have launched in alike state to Human Fall Flat, there is still a chance that within weeks, all its flaws will be ironed out, and that the others wise flunky combat, will become solid, and dependable.
Ultimately, all that has to be said is that Gang Beasts is a Double Fine game through-and-through. It is a mix of weirdness, and joyous wonder, which results in hours of comedy, and sheer entertainment, which will satisfy even the grumpiest of players. But for a premium indie title, it lacks the variety, and core content which some have come to expect in this day and age from titles which retail at £15.99. And while Gang Beasts compensates for its lack of modes, with some wonderful and complex maps, it is unfortunately not consistent nor reliable enough to warrant itself one of the top scores.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.