Fall Guys Is The Game We All Needed In 2020
That’s not a battle royale...Hmm… Oh wait, I guess you’re right, it is!
First-person shooter, huge maps which you drop in on with tiered loot scattered around - in 2020, the battle royale genre felt as stuck as humanity in its own four walls due to COVID-19. Sitting at home, many of us were gaming, passing the time with the dominant genre of the last five or so years. Things were moving along, but nothing ground-breaking happened.
That is until seemingly out of nowhere, developer Mediatonic swooped in with Fall Guys, the love child of Takeshi’s Castle and Mario Party, raised by a community of wholesome video games and a sick art teacher. It’s a bag of skittles being shaken around by a hyperactive toddler, a ragdoll adventure at the candy store, and the best physics lessons you’ve ever had, putting you in a quantum mechanical superposition of rage-induced mania and a headshaking paroxysm of laughter, causing pain in the keyboard smashing hand and the cramping midriff in rapid succession.
Not only did the pink and purple battle royale get by without using any of the aforementioned believed-to-be-must-have features, in many ways they’ve opened entirely new dimensions to the battle royale experience, reminding their player base that games are not just about the dub but the fun you had along the way.
Why Fall Guys feels so different to other battle royales
When we carefully observe what kind of emotions the typical round of Fall Guys puts us through, it becomes obvious that there are many more sources of fun and satisfaction, not least in the very framing of it. We are playing conscious jelly beans in a plastic candy world. Nothing about Fall Guys feels inherently sweaty, though the gameplay has plenty of depth to it to distinguish yourself as a player - an impressive feat for a game that only uses a grand total of seven keys.
Oh, I got catapulted by the spinny thing and now I’m first, haha! ... WHY DOES THIS GATE NOT OPEN asdasd!
While we can get invested in our own success, our attention is frequently taken away, ping-ponging between the positively satisfactory to the hilariously frustrating at a moments notice. Perhaps because it doesn’t feel quite as serious in the art style, and the ridiculous stuff that can randomly happen to us, our egos aren’t quite as inclined to get pinched in the process. If the name of the game was to get an “epic win” as academia calls it, then Fall Guys has somehow managed to reliably give us a feeling of “epic losses”, increasing the fun chemical output for everyone involved by a magnitude. Each round of Fall Guys has an element of success, failure, and the unexpected, with readily-accessible schadenfreude through the ability to be a nuisance to others.
Are you a Fall Guy that just magically always finds themselves on the ground? Are you a Small Guy that just fits through the tightest gaps? Are you a Stall Guy that stands at the finish line of a course trying to throw people off? Are you a Ball Guy who wants to get round objects into goals? Or are you a LOL Guy who just wants to have fun with the squad? The game has something to cover for you.
Even observing has its charm, getting to watch your teammates succeed and fail in all kinds of mind-bending ways.
Because rounds are so quick, the emotional investment is low, and frustration dissipates quickly, usually accompanied by a friend having a hearty chuckle at your misfortune. When your fat bean once again didn’t manage to stay on its feet, you can’t hate on the guy for too long. He’s trying, he really is.
Outside the game
A large part of the cultural phenomenon that the game has become is the personable way the company has been interacting with its customers. Led by one chill dude, @OliverAge24, Fall Guys found a way to connect with their audience that vibes in sync with the experience of the game. Instead of hyper-professionalised marketing campaigns, the now 1.1 million user strong account has remained in tune with its community, interacting charmingly with large streamers and gaming brands in a playfully teasing manner.
Following the heroic quest of Twitch streamer Timothy “TimtheTatman” Betar for his first crown, who after more than 600 tries still hadn’t gotten a victory, the saga cascaded to a point at which more than 300,000 people followed Tim’s journey, losing in close and hilarious fashion on countless occasions. Finally on Hexagon, the map he had lost a handful of times in the last moments before, Tim finally got it and Fall Guys celebrated the crowned king.
In an ongoing twitter auction, Fall Guys offered the opportunity to have a personalised in-game skin to the top bidder, causing a bidding war between brands like G2, Tushy, and even Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson. Oliver has been on the ball in hyping up the campaign for Special Effect, a UK-charity with the goal to level the playing field for people gaming with disabilities.
Retweeting user art and content, as well as little events like the special skin given to the statistically best player, who happened to be big-time streamer Benjamin "DrLupo" Lupo, add to the flavour. Almost every day for the last two weeks, there was something outside of the game to care about.
With its game design and social media approach, Fall Guys has hit the grayscale 2020 reality the world finds itself in and has added beautiful colour to it, bringing the flavour and feeling to us like the first time biting down on sour sweets. As our faces twist and turn, we can’t help but to come away with a smile.
Images via Mediatonic