I tend to class myself as possessing a rather varied and eclectic (if you can even use such a word) spectrum when it comes to my taste in humour and comedy. While I usually don’t take to more American ways in amping up the volume to some crude shock-value, I won’t deny my fondness for atypically dry [British] humour isn’t balanced out by the occasional silliness, and to use a popular Internet term, “derpy” showing on-screen. Gang Beasts might not be some sarcastic, blue comedy discomfort on something you’d never want to discuss, even anonymously, but its over-the-top and quite ridiculous complexion of the most simple and mundane of tasks definitely raises a smile.
With Boneloaf’s Double Fine-published, multiplayer-based beat ‘em up having been in Early Access sinc9e August 2014, the online component has now entered Beta stage and while you may consider giving the reigns over to someone like myself – who often has gnawing disdain for anything that involves online…and people…and communicating, in some manner, with said people – to be an odd fit, Gang Beasts interests me because of how anti-multiplayer its delivery turns out be. The premise being that, as stated, the most simplest of actions are so convolutedly hard to control, let alone master, the result is a merry mound of drunken bust-up’s and matches that wind up being some of the most ridiculous, most chaotic but ultimately laughable moments you can have.
So with the infrastructure finally going online, it’s safe to say that humour is not lost. Be it running aimlessly around one of the game’s minimally-designed arenas, caught amongst a four-strong human chain (that is if these gelatinous models are meant to be impersonating humanoid figures) trying desperately not to fall off the edge or simply watching your player-character get smacked in the face by a running train – which represents one of the game’s in-stage hazards – even I can not help but rustle up a smirk at just how pointless yet entertaining this paradigm of a beautiful mess this game can often be. I’m not so sure as to the point of any of it, aside from winning each match, but if the visage of my character running about with its arms above its head tickles my funny-bone (and my wit for improvisation), I suspect I just might have unearthed the joy of playing the idiot. A rare oddity for myself, both in and out of video games, but fun nonetheless.
It’s a shame then that the communication side doesn’t always meet up to the standards of a robust multiplayer system. Most often than not I would find myself returning but a handful of results in my search for a server; even then, there was never any guarantee, as much result, in actually connecting. While on its own players are fine to frolic and scurry about with no intention to actually win, it’s frustrating for those eager to play; stuck in spectator mode with no power or influence to, at the very least, nudge the game onward a little more to an end point.
What’s more, with choppy frame-rates coming and going, animation assets taking far more a chaotic turn than the core gameplay alone and a general sense of faltering communication, not all of the individual games played can turn out as smooth or as accessible as the game alludes (albeit in a subverted manner) towards. But I’d be lying if I said Gang Beasts hasn’t warmed me (albeit marginally) to this particular niche of online games. The kind that don’t inherently possess some absolute end-goal for ultimate vanity – which is always a plus – or genuine purpose overall, but essentially merit a jolly good time, especially with friends, and can deliver, technically, a fascination to play. At least, trying to play. Gang Beasts is planned for a full retail release on PS4 & PC at an unconfirmed date later this year.