Party Animals Review - Not Quite A Grand Fiesta
It’s hard to place exactly where my feelings lie regarding Party Animals. A cocktail made up of the competitive mini-games of Fall Guys, the silly melee combat of Gang Beasts and the movement mechanics of Human Fall Flat, Party Animals has everything it needs to be a fun outing, the kind of game you can pick up and play for 30 minutes when you have an itch for some quick and mindless fun to kill some time. Unfortunately, while there are moments when Party Animals shines and is a fun competitive mini-game experience, these moments were brought down by some confusing design choices that hampered my enjoyment while playing.
The biggest gripe I have is the length of a good majority of the matches. The adage “a quick game is a good game” came to mind as I played Party Animals. There was nothing that made any one of the different game modes and maps bad per se, it was that the games just felt as though they were dragging on. Last-man-standing matches that go until one of the four teams has won three separate rounds and sports-based games that look like it is the first to three but are really first to six. These matches are drawn out to the point that I just wanted them to be over so we could move on to something else. I understand the argument that it gives players a chance to make a comeback, but it also prolongs the punishment as well, especially in the last-man-standing matches where you will spend a chunk of time watching the remaining players after being knocked out.
The second problem comes in the difficulties engaging in local coop. Yes, it is possible for two people to play Party Animals through the same Xbox, however, this comes with a caveat. In order to play together you have to create a private game and have the second player join. Now because this is a private game, you cannot just fill the remaining spots with random players, they have to be invited or choose your game from the list of available private games. If you have a group of people that are playing and can start a game you will probably be able to get the one or two random players needed to fill out the player count, but if you don’t have a friend group ready to go then you may be in for a long wait. If there was a way for a second player to join as a guest under the profile, much like we have seen in games like Rocket League, then it would make the local coop much more appealing. As it stands right now, the best way to team up cooperatively with someone in your house is if they are on their own Xbox, something which is not feasible for many households.
With those issues out of the way, let’s talk about the rest of Party Animals. Each of the character models are colourful and have varying levels of cuteness/goofiness that will make them a hit with the kids. My youngest spawn was particularly taken with the Hammerhead Shark while I myself was partial to the duck, though that was only because of the potential to score a skin that rendered the duck as the Dark Lord of the Sith. The combat is very exaggerated and cartoon-like, with wild swings and stumbles that make the combat chaotic and anything but coordinated. There is a mixture of weapons available to mix things up, with the old traditional hammers and bats thrown in with crossbows and, my personal favourite, a good-ole taser. Much like regular combat, making efficient use of these weapons is part luck, part skill and a whole lot of right place at the right time, but they can change the outcome of a round just when you need it.
While most of the maps and modes are fun, overall length aside, there are a couple of them that stood out to me for mention. Broken Arrow puts everyone on top of a plane and has them fighting to be the one left standing, while Black Hole has everyone fighting in an area that has, as you may have guessed, a black hole that appears throughout the match. This black hole sucks players and objects into the middle of the map to drop them to their death. Lastly, one of the funniest games and one that takes the meta to another level has one player from each team playing an arcade game while the rest of the players are trying to pull them away/ protect their own team-mate. It was a nifty little game that created two different layers of competition and really stood out above the rest.
While there are the issues I noted, these are things that can potentially be changed by the developers through an update at some point in the future. I think that speeding up the individual matches will help to keep the players engaged and will be able to take Party Animals to another level. As it stands, I am sure there will be lots of kids who will have fun engaging in the cartoonish combat that Party Animals offers and that may be enough to keep them engaged. If you have kids and a GamePass subscription then it is a no-brainer. The availability of Party Animals on GamePass will only help the player count and make it easier for players to find matches with other people.
Party Animals was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with code kindly supplied by the publisher.