Gang Beasts is a local multiplayer-based fighting game developed by Boneloaf Games and published by Double Fine Productions. The game is still in “Early Access” on Steam, but expected to be released later this year on both PC and PS4.
So far, the title only has a single mode, Survival. In this mode, the winner is the last man standing — you can play with up to 8 friends at the same time. To do this, we usually have to pummel other players into submission or push them into one of the level hazards. There are eight maps so far, each of them with unique, deadly features and pitfalls. For example, in one level you fight on top of two trucks trying not to fall off and dodging traffic signs. Another one puts you into a dangerous factory with spinning fans everywhere.
The characters are cartoonish ragdoll-like people you can customize by having them wear different hats and/or clothes. You attack other players by punching them, controlling each arm with a different button — holding down an arm’s button makes that arm hold whatever it punches. A common strategy is to hold another player with one arm and punch them with the other, which leads to hilarious situations. Aside from punching, you can do small jumps and raise your arms above you, which is useful for lifting other players and throwing them around.
The downside to all this is the lack of a tutorial. You just have to push buttons around until you find out what button does what. There aren’t any key mapping options either, so far.
The levels are well designed and so are the characters, although one can see that the game is still on an extremely early phase of its development by the lack of simple things like textures.
Overall, Gang Beasts is a great game to play with friends and have a laugh. It’s still in development, and it looks like it has a great future ahead of it — its developers have already announced more character customization, maps and game modes, which will include minigames an co-op. There will also be an online feature, because a local-only co-op game that can support up to 8 players is an oddity in the world of PC gaming.
For a game in Early Access, Gang Beasts is both fun and funny enough to be recommended. The addictive gameplay and mechanics are strong sellers, but basic options like rebinding keys and multiplayer should be implemented before the final release.