Have You Played Gang Beasts?

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It was upon one random night I invited my friend over to play some Gang Beasts with me.

Man, we had a good time, beating each other up by means of gelatinous figures. We couldn’t stop laughing at how silly they look, the sounds that they made as they held on to each other to avoid getting hit by a speeding highway. It wasn’t until we were playing on a stage with giant falling penises pink tubes — whose goal is to try and make you fall through the opening and closing vaults on the floor, that what my buddy said to me hit me like a thousand bricks: “These dudes must have been drunk while making this game.”

That made a lot of sense to me. And to be honest, I feel this game wouldn’t be anywhere near as hilarious, unique, even, had they (or the characters in the game itself) been sober.

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Gang Beasts, powered by Unity 5, takes a twist on the traditional fighter by means of two things: 1) the environment can play a major role in the outcome of the brawl and 2) the way the characters animate as they try to extend their limbs is so funny you could let your kids in on the action, without worrying about the game having some sort of negative side effect on them. Instead of taking the typical serious mood set by most fighting games, these guys actually giggle at the pain they throw at each other, and the way they knock each other out is so funny you can’t possibly get mad that some dude tossed you out of the ring to get eliminated. The landscape here is 3D — you’re not locked to a 2D side-scrolling camera, so you can move in all directions around the arena. Originally, this game was meant to be played locally by up to eight players, but as of the “unstable” update 0.4.0, online multiplayer is achievable, and suffice to say it works pretty good. Unfortunately, as is the case with most games, us Linux fans are treated as second-class citizens because this update was shipped about a week later than the Windows/Mac branch — a small patch was actually just released today with no official announcement from the developers.

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So… you’re in control of a figurine made out of…jelly? Which only looks a little more complex than a stickman, solidly colored red, blue, green, yellow, or some other color, and maybe he’ll have some sort of outfit tossed on to further characterize itself. The goal, here, is simple: get the opponents off the ring and be the last man standing. You do that by means of kicking, punching, and grabbing each other silly till someone’s knocked out, after which you’ll have a certain period of time to drag his body to the train tracks, to the spinning cogs of doom, or some ledge and hope that the dude will remain unconscious before he has the chance to recover and escape his impending doom. While it might sound violent, it’s actually quite hilarious how things work here: no blood is involved, no bone-crushing sounds. The giggles made by the figures as they knock each other senseless. The dude will simply utter a moan to indicate that he’s eliminated.

Stages include a box ring, two trucks riding parallel to each other on the highway, a subway with trains, a hallway with sections of cogs that will grind you to your doom, an iceberg, a breakable billboard, and many more. Only the first four stages, however, can be played online at this time. While both the character and level design is incredibly basic in nature, many different parts of objects can be interacted with. For instance, on the trucks level (which also happens to be one of my favorites), the doors on the back of the trucks can be opened and closed, and you can freely move to the inside to protect yourself from getting hit by the signs that will sweep by over the trucks every once in a while.

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Regarding the Linux version, while it does have some minor issues I’m happy that I can at least play it. Issues include:

  • Occasional lag spikes, so instead of getting sixty frames-per-second, I get more like thirty or forty (Then again, it could possibly come from the multiplayer lag)
  • Certain elements from the UI are invisible. For instance, in the Video options menu, the checkboxes for enabling/disabling things like Anisotropic Filter and Ambient Occlusion are gone
  • Options have to be reconfigured again every time you start the game up; your settings are not saved
  • Random crashes. This might be a common thing with Unity games, as other games in my library suffer from the same thing

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I have some raw footage of online multiplayer here. Hopefully it’s not too laggy to ruin the enjoyment.

The game is in early access, and while updates rarely ship out, judging by how many likes and comments that come with each one indicates to me that the game is pretty popular, and for good reason it is. Never had I a hard time trying to find someone to play with online. You can buy the game through Steam for $20.

Get your friends (and a couple of beers) together for something that you will never cease to laugh with — or at. Or, if you’re one of those nerds who have no friends in real time, now it is possible to enjoy the game by means of online multiplayer.

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