The very best thing about the blossoming indie scene is that you never quite know what treasures you’re going to uncover. We’re in an era now where a duo of plucky programmers can produce a PlayStation masterpiece in a rotten rented bedsit, and – irrespective of the plethora of non-blockbuster bemoaners who’ve become a rather vocal and unfortunate fixture of the latest generation – that’s actually a good thing for the future of creativity in our beloved industry. Boneloaf’s bizarre physics brawler Gang Beasts epitomises everything that’s great about this latest progression in the medium – and has had us clamouring for a console release ever since we first clapped our bleary eyes on it.
Decorated with a graffiti-esque emblem, the game’s marketing materials don’t exactly match up with its actual on-screen action. Passers of the product’s non-descript booth at indie love-in EGX Rezzed may have expected to find a Rival Turf-inspired sidescrolling beat-‘em-up, only to be greeted with a bizarre blend of Super Smash Bros and Tony Hart’s strange stop-motion protagonist from defunct kids’ art show Take Hart. As utterly insane as it is intoxicating, the title sees you control an inebriated dough boy around increasingly outrageous arenas in a last man standing-esque affair. You can grapple and punch your three opponents, with the charm exuding from the manner in which the coloured mannequins move.
It’s a game that you can download in alpha form already, but we reckon that it’s a release that would feel right at home on the PlayStation 4. The developer informs us that it definitely has a port in mind, but just in case it needs any more persuasion to open up its epic fighting affair to a larger audience, here are three reasons why we reckon the lo-fi laugh-‘em-up must wobble its way onto Sony’s next-gen system.
It’s utterly bonkers
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “What the heck is Gang Beasts?” Despite the simplicity of it, that’s not an easy question to answer. As already alluded, the game takes elements from Super Smash Bros, but transposes the physics-based action to three-dimensional environments. It sees you assume the role of one of four different coloured characters, each of which has the ability to punch, grab, and celebrate. Like all of the best indie games, it doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but it’s when you peel back its layers that it starts to shine.
Movement is purposefully deliberate, meaning that there’s an intentional clunkiness to the controls that ensure you never quite feel in control. This slippery nature is crucial to the tug of war-like skirmishes, in which you’ll grab onto your foe and try to pull them towards their doom. Battles take place in arenas as simplistic as a boxing ring to as complex as a Ferris wheel, complete with a boardwalk more dilapidated than Brighton’s iconic burnt out pier. Your objective is quite simply to toss your opponents off the stage, and claim your victory.
On paper, it perhaps doesn’t sound especially interesting, but this is a real crowd pleaser. During our time at EGX Rezzed, there was a constant mob swarming the single 32-inch Samsung television displaying the game, and audible groans could be heard across the noisy event hall from metres away. It’s the type of title that has you rooting for an underdog as he clings on for dear life, and cheering out loud as he turns the tables on his opponent in a last ditch struggle for supremacy.
Dare you to share
There’s an air of unpredictability to Gang Beasts which makes it so entertaining to watch. The slightly buggy physics system will see you latch onto an opponent’s unspeakable parts unintentionally at times, or cling onto the bonnet of a truck as you compete on the release’s Uncharted-esque highway stage. These are perfect for a social system like the PS4, in which you can easily store your greatest gaming moments by pushing a single button on the chassis of the DualShock 4 controller. It’s easy to imagine memorable encounters being captured on the console, and shared on social networks such as Facebook. Moreover, those flustered friends and family members that get spammed with the clips may actually find something a little more entertaining than Edward Kenway walking on water should they be daring enough to press play.
It’s in good company
Sony’s proved that it’s willing to back more experimental endeavours, but even Gang Beasts may seem a little too out there for a commercial console platform. And yet, while utterly unique, the game shares many similarities with other titles currently causing a stir on the next-gen system. For example, its unpredictable physics-based control scheme is reminiscent of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, while its emphasis on local multiplayer is not uncommon on a machine that also hosts ex-Ouya exclusive TowerFall: Ascension and co-operative puzzler Tiny Brains.
Moreover, it’s the upcoming indie compilation Sportsfriends that we feel makes an ideal analogue to the release. Despite being more physical, headline minigame Johann Sebastian Joust has the same form of twilight immaturity to it that makes Boneloaf’s title such a hoot, and we could imagine both games going down a storm at a high school house party or even kids’ sleepover. Indeed, they both have an indescribably universal appeal that adds real meaning to the often misleadingly employed ‘fun for the whole family’ phrase.
We suppose when a game’s such an unusual prospect, it needs comparable companions to perform, and the PS4 has that in abundance. If you like any of the abovementioned titles, then you’ll probably garner some entertainment out of the British developer’s bizarre beat-‘em-up, and that means that there’s already an eager audience in place for the exaggerated escapade as long as the price is right.
Do you agree that Gang Beasts has a certain something to it, or are you tired of these types of indie games? Pick a side in the comments section below.