There’s not much out there as fun and ridiculous as Gang Beasts. I know, but it’s very difficult to talk about Party Animals without first mentioning that particular title purely because they share so much DNA. The internal mechanic of Party Animals is exactly what makes Gang Beasts so batshit entertaining. There’s not a huge amount to differentiate the two and yet Party Animals doesn’t quite reach those animalistic heights, even if it is fun in its own kinda way.
So you’ve got the core principle already set in place, so how do you make it different? Well, you bring in the fluffiest cutest animals you can think of and make them throw each other off bridges into infinite pools of water, of course. Whilst that’s just one map, the bloodshed on display here (without any actual blood, ’cause family game) is more than brutal enough to have it stand up to the likes of Gang Beasts and be ready to take its crown. Party Animals is certainly bigger and bolder (with considerably more cash thrown at it), and visually looks smooth as silk on my PC gaming laptop of considerable heft.
The variety of the maps is a standout. From the aforementioned bridge which continues to break throughout the brawl, dropping you and your enemies into the water below, to an indoor ring where you have to battle your way to an arcade machine and play a game where you collect coins and whatnot in order to win the round. The very fun Ichiban map is surrounded with poison gas which slowly rises ala Fall Guys, whilst a Winter map freezes you as the cold moves further into the map. They’re all designed beautifully and are all a good amount of fun.
If you’ve played the likes of Gang Beasts you’ll be fully aware of the physics-based control method of these types of brawlers and honestly, Party Animals doesn’t make them any better. I guess that’s kinda the point, you think you have control over your movements and punches/kicks but in reality, you’re just hitting and hoping. The only real connection I feel I make is when I’ve knocked out an opponent and I’m carrying them to drop them over the side. Elsewhere trying to pick up weapons or any kind of item remains a purposeful nightmare and simply adds to the chaos that’s ensuing around you. Shout out to the dropkick, which is by far the most effective attack in the game without weapons.
Though have you ever seen Kat with a shovel? Oof.
From the above, you can probably work out that yes, I’ve been playing Party Animals with Finger Gunners, specifically Kat and unsurprisingly the enjoyment of the game was immediately lifted. As a team, we took on everyone in our way and came out victorious on several occasions. Including a truly epic final game as we held onto a bridge for dear life, as we were the last ones standing against a single player. It was a fairly remarkable victory and we both agreed it was brilliant fun. The madness of it all is all the better shared, as with most games of this ilk.
You can play with up to eight players online and four players on a local Xbox / PC. Thankfully you can continue to earn XP whether you’re playing online or offline, so you can always keep your progress up regardless of how you’re playing.
At launch, there’s not a huge variety in the game modes available, but they’re certainly fun. Last Stand is exactly what you’d expect, the classic mode you’ll more than likely be playing the most. In custom games you’ll play the same map in a row there’s every chance you may want to get out of there as quickly as you can. Though my favourite map – the awesome naval submarine level which sinks as the game progresses – it could be the chosen map over and over and I wouldn’t be sad about it.
Then there’s Team Score Mode with a variety of mini-games – including the aforementioned arcade machine coin grabber game – and vary from football (ish) to train racing? It’s all very odd but it certainly adds to the variety and a nice welcome to what could be possible in the future should this mode be expanded.
Finally, there’s the Arcade mode which sadly doesn’t have a huge amount to offer just yet. It’s multiple lives with two teams and you’re tasked with getting the other team down to zero in order to win. The options here are limited, though. You’re either brawling in a winter cabin throwing out your enemies so they freeze to death or you’re throwing them in front of an oncoming train as you battle it out in the station. It’s fine, but the lack of options certainly minimises the fun on hand when you can get far more fun out of the more classic modes.
And what of the monetisation? Yes, Party Animals offers a ton of XP to unlock cosmetics and rewards. There’s a bunch of animals to unlock. Levelling up in Party Animals includes currencies and coins that can literally be placed within a gacha machine to unlock random cosmetics for your animals. It’s not particularly bad, we see much worse examples of monetisation and whatnot in other games. Though for a game with a £20 price tag, it’s fairly low so you can somewhat forgive the practice. You can unlock the majority of the rewards in-game, which is a relief.
So Party Animals is beginning in good shape. It looks great, plays well and is a bunch of fun with friends, as you would expect. Time will tell if there’s longevity in this and the hope is there’s plenty more content to come for the game down the line, particularly in the Arcade. Still, it’s not going to change your life and if you’ve had your fill on Gang Beasts then there’s not going to be much here to entice you. But if you’ve never experienced the multiplayer joy of a physics brawler, Party Animals is a solid enough start to begin.
Whilst the DNA of Party Animals is nothing new, there’s enough here to warrant giving it a go if you’re a fan of the genre. The visuals are great, the animals are cute as all hell and the levels are beautifully designed. Playing it with friends really brings the game to life, so don’t forget to bring some along.
Party Animals is available September 20th on PC (reviewed on Steam), Xbox and Xbox Game Pass.
Developer: Recreate Games
Publisher: Source Technology
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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