What happens when cross a bunch of very cute looking animals, perilous environments and weapons. A lot of laughter, that’s what. Party Animals is brilliant, and has stopped me and my friends from playing Starfield, which is saying something.
The premise is simple, choose a very cute looking animal then bash the hell out of each other on a variety of maps in various game modes. You and up to seven friends (plus 4 spectators) can embark on a range of different game modes across different team sizes. Last Stand sees four teams of two fight against each other over 12 different levels, while Team Score is 4v4, you’ll play games such American Football, Football, Hockey and a really funny level where you’ll play another computer game.
Finally there is Fight Club, teams of 4 players each start with 10 lives. The team that manages to preserve at least one life while the opposing team loses all theirs is declared the winner. In the Winter Cabin you can engage in a brawl within a winter milk bar. Drinking expired milk grants super strength but may cause dizziness. Staying outside too long will freeze you. In Final Destination you’ll fight in abandoned subway station, where you’ll need to avoid falling on the tracks or being hit by a train.
The cute visual aesthetic matched with the brutal sound effects and actions makes for a splendid contrast that can’t help but raise a smile. With a full lobby of eight players, all stumbling around, clamouring over each other and the environments that include fighter jets, submarines and ancient temples its rare that a match doesn’t end with something amazing happening. Throw in a bunch of weapons including frying pans, throwing bombs, crossbows, pistols and even tasers, its chaotic fun that brings the whole party to tears of laughter.
Despite the physics heavy focus, there’s a surprising amount of control in Party Animals. Each action you take has a precise outcome, whether that’s running and throwing a punch, leaping into the air to trigger a flying kick, or firing one of the weapons. It’s not as loose as it looks but in fact rewards the steady-handed with remarkable accuracy.
It’s a difficult sensation to describe, but it feels tighter than the likes of Human Fall Flat or Gang Beasts, like there’s specific states the characters get into, depending on the actions you’re trying to pull off, that aid in performing them consistently when you press the right button, or indeed combination of buttons. For example, if you want to use a melee weapon you don’t just haphazardly pick it up, instead you need to position yourself in a way to pick it up with both hands in the right position, the weapon then becomes a melee weapon rather than just a physics object you can throw. As bonkers and chaotic as it all looks, there’s strategy and nuance underneath it all.
The variety of stages and environmental hazards each one introduces keeps the brawl fresh and interesting. It becomes not only a fight against your opponents but also a balancing act of being aware of your environment and what’s going on around you. Fighting on the submarine becomes a desperate climb to the highest point as it submerges. On the plane the tilt of the aircraft is just as deadly as the club wielding rabbit. Every stage provides something unique to be wary of, and it makes for some wonderfully precarious combat. The victory screen is a huge favourite in our parties, everyone who takes part gets to pose for a photo, but you can also carry on the fight which results in some fantastic screenshots!
On the completion of matches, players can earn cookies that can be used to unlock cosmetic items. There are also items that can be caught with Nemo Bucks which can be paid for on the Xbox store, however you can earn some Demo bucks through normal gameplay too. There are some fantastic outfits available but of course they are just cosmetic.
There is very little to criticise when it comes to Party Animals, but the menu system is frustrating because I can’t always see what I’m selecting on the menu, it’s just too subtle but hopefully this is something that is easily fixed.
Its rare to have a game that generates the same amount of laughter whether you are 12 or 50 - The simplicity of the game mixed in with the riotous fun makes this one our favourite games for a long time.