Push Me Pull You is a weird game – and not in a "Tim Burton" kind of way. It's weird in a "I really hope no one walks in on me playing this right now because there is simply no way to reasonably explain what's currently happening on my television screen" kind of way. Thankfully, it's also one of the most hilarious and joyously fun multiplayer party experiences in recent memory.
You play as a two headed intestinal worm attempting to wrestle control of a small red ball away from your opponent who is also a two headed intestinal worm. You're probably still internalising that stymieing doozy of a sentence, so we've decided to include this filler sentence to give you a second to breathe.
You good? Okay, let's move on.
The game is played in two teams of two people, each controlling one of the aforementioned heads. You and your partner have a fairly limited moveset: you can move, extend your worm, or shrink your worm. Extending and shrinking are an integral part of the strategy, as they allow you to change between small and agile, or large and dominating.
Therefore, teamwork is the name of the game. You and your teammate must be constantly communicating about how you plan to out-manoeuvre your opponent. For example, if the opposing team has managed to wrap the length of their worm around the ball a few times, you might decide to shrink down and burrow your way into their intestinal donut, and then quickly expand. This will allow you to gain control of the ball and create an opening in one fell swoop.
However, this type of communication can get difficult, because you will likely spend most of your time either letting out guttural sounds, trash-talking till you're blue in the face, fighting back full-blown existential crises, or trying desperately to stop yourself from hysterically laughing.
To be clear, you can also play with only two or three people, but the title is definitely best enjoyed with a full party of four. Also, if you only own two PlayStation 4 controllers, each team can share one. In fact, this is arguably the best way to play the game, as the close proximity only amps up the weird and awkward flavour.
Indeed, this is a game which, more than anything, is about having a fantastic but slightly uncomfortable time with a group of friends. And in that respect, it succeeds admirably. The gameplay is tense and requires genuine teamwork, but is also equally hilarious and silly. You'll often be engrossed in an incredibly serious battle for supremacy, only to remember what it is that you're actually doing, and then burst into laughter.
Alright, it's probably time for another quick break to let you process the utter madness that you're hearing and seeing. These breaks are for us as well, to be honest. It takes a lot of effort to review a game like this without resorting to lewd jokes.
There are several modes in the title, each with a different variation on the central premise. The basic one sees you attempting to hold the ball in your side of the court long enough for you to score a point. Another sees the introduction of two extra balls. There's also a half-court mode, as well as one which sees you simultaneously guarding your ball while keeping your opponent's out. For our money, the main mode is the best. The others, while fun, just don't capture the joyous simplicity of title's mechanics in as potent a way.
This simplicity may also be the Aussie indie's biggest downfall. Indeed, the core mechanics don't have a great deal of meat to them, so the novelty may wear off after a few rounds. However, if you and your friends are happy to get into the spirit of things, there are few party games that will produce as many smiles and full bodied guffaws.
After you've selected a mode, you're given the choice of a few hairstyles for your worm, as well as a team colour. You're then plonked into a large warm-up area, which has a playground, a soccer field, and a replica of the main arena for you to explore. This acts as a great way to learn the title's purposely unwieldy mechanics without forcing you to compete just yet.
All of these areas and modes are wrapped up in gorgeously polished presentation. The visuals are sharp and colourful, and the music – while sparing – fits the mood perfectly. The real winners, though, are the sound effects. The slapping of your worm's hands on the ground, the wet slither of your worm's body expanding, the zip of your worm's body shrinking – these simple and disgusting sounds make the entire experience exponentially more hilarious.
Push Me Pull You is an outstanding party game. Its bizarre concept, hilarious gameplay, and hyper polished presentation mean that it is an absolute riot to play with friends. If you're willing to overlook the lack of mechanical depth – and are on-board with its peculiar premise – you're in for a genuinely funny and dizzyingly enjoyable multiplayer.