Fall Guys is the weird, wonderful Ninja Warrior of battle royale games

What if over-the-top, obstacle laden reality shows like Takeshi’s Castle and Ninja Warrior blended with today’s current battle royale-influenced trend? It may be a question nobody thought to ask, but Fall Guys proves the answer is delightful.

Fall Guys is developed by Mediatonic — also making the thematically similar Gears Pop for mobile — and is being published by Devolver Digital, which debuted the trailer during its E3 “press conference” on Sunday evening.

The game’s rounds are set up like episodes of a game show, whittling down the 100 Minion-like Fall Guys through a series of challenges set on stages that feel like bouncy castles on steroids. During the three rounds on display at E3, our group of 100 (which was four human players against 96 AI, for the purposes of the demo) was pared down significantly; failing one of the stages meant you’re just spectating the rest of the episode.

Mediatonic/Devolver Digital

In the first round, I barreled down lime green slopes with my little magenta Fall Guy (the game named him Pickle Pancakes, and you better believe I stuck with that). Every 50 yards are so, players would be met with a row of doors they’d have to crash through to make it to the next section. But some of the doors were actually solid walls, meaning it was almost better to hang back just a little until someone else had cleared the path. About a fourth (the developers didn’t provide a number) of the slowest to reach the bottom didn’t make it through.

During the next challenge, Tail Tag, half of the contestants would start the round with pink tails stuck to their back. My one goal was to make sure I finished the round with my tail, or face elimination. I scurried over neon blue bouncy bricks and dodged massive hammers to protect my tail, which others could grab off with the game’s simple controls. This round is the most frantic, but also the most fun, as I usually lost my tail in the final moments and had to race to get it back.

Mediatonic/Devolver Digital

The final challenge was the race to the top of a mountain and be the first Fall Guy to grab the crown. Of course, the climb isn’t that easy. I dodged giant magenta boulders that tumbled down in waves, and tried escape a row of rotating hammers, which ended up trapping me and tossing my Fall Guy around like a tiny, magenta rag doll. All which felt very akin to Takeshi’s Castle, the Japanese game show that inspired so many other reality stunt shows since.

Even with such short courses (the entire playthrough was maybe 10 minutes, which I repeated once more), Fall Guys feels repeatable. Its shakeup to the battle royale formula is welcome, especially since it only needs three buttons to play. There isn’t specific release timing, but Mediatonic told me they hoped to launch Fall Guys at the start of next year for PlayStation 4 and PC.

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