The fights are exciting. No arguments either, I’m talking about direct punches. Anyone who has ever witnessed a fight knows that there is electricity in the air that forces us to be careful. Call it instinct, call it morbid curiosity, call it WORLDSTAR, but we love a good fight.
We have been fighting for a long time. Not just in the real world, where we’ve elevated the fighting into a multi-billion dollar military-industrial complex and a host of professional leagues and martial arts disciplines, but also in games. Combat is an essential component of many video games and a genre in itself.
But the fighting genre can be a bit unapproachable. The hyper-competitive spirit behind combat leaves little room for amateur exploration, and most fighting games offer mechanics suited to this pursuit. Precise timing, lightning reflexes and a studious approach guide our most popular fighting games. But what about those of us who want the thrill of a good fight without the tall order? Is there a game that levels the playing field for all skill levels while providing the thrill we’re looking for?
Gang of beasts, of British independent studio Boneloaf, is a fighting game for those who don’t like fighting games (and even those who love them). The claymation style is not just an aesthetic, it informs physics in a very real, very unpredictable way. Your fighter is a rubbery little guy who crumbles and stretches as he kicks and struggles. The goal is to knock your opponents off the map or drop them into one of the many industrial dangers inside Beef City.
The magic of Gang of beasts is having difficulty performing these movements. Unlike traditional fighters who are precise and responsive, these blubbery brawlers are clumsy and slow. The fights involve a lot of frantic button crushing and trying to get your fighter to have coordination lightning and rough up an opponent. This is paired with some hilarious ragdoll effects and a heavy dose of luck that make this silly fighter one of the loudest multiplayer experiences around.
The sheer volume of fighters adds to the chaos. This is a battle royale for up to eight players (or four local players), so the first few minutes can be downright crazy. This is largely due to the unique control scheme. There are no combos or hadoukens here. You have three attacks – punch, grab, and kick – with punch and grip mapped to your left or right. So, in order to do an efficient input, you need to press both buttons (LB and RB) simultaneously. Or as close to concurrency as you can get. Slow, sticky movements are hard to time at first, but that’s half the fun. You can also sit and lie down to try to defend yourself against hauling and getting into hazards.
The wacky aesthetic adds a lot to the vibe here. There are many customization options for your fighter, all of them purely cosmetic. Fans of fall guys you’ll feel right at home browsing the library of silly capes, hoodies and hats. There are also different game modes involving soccer balls and AI enemies, so you can mix things up when things get stale. It’s not a serious game, which makes it a breath of fresh air in a genre that takes itself very seriously. Plus, it makes it a perfect Game Pass experience. You can enjoy the novelty with a few friends and then move on. Maybe go get a good bus fight to watch?
Gang of beasts is available now on Xbox Game Pass, as well as for sale on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.