It feels like there is an endless stream of multiplayer games that come and go. Many fade off into obscurity without being even vaguely memorable. However, sometimes there is a game that stands out and will take you by surprise. I have not had too many games like that over the past few years, but I will admit Party Animals by Recreate Games pleasantly surprised me.
An Adorable And Brutal Battle
Party Animals is an astoundingly goofy and adorable game. Each of the characters that you unlock as you level up is more cute and ridiculous than the last. The character variety available for you to choose from is vast. From otters to sharks and everything in between, there is no shortage of cartoony animals for you to choose from. After you pick your favorite little animal, you will then go to war against other puffy and cute animals. In a battle to the death! Well, more like until you get knocked out of the map Super Smash Bros style, but you get the point.
There is no blood or gore in Party Animals. But it still feels like an incredibly brutal game. This is probably the only game in which you will see a fuzzy bear hit a dog with a shovel. From big sledgehammers, tasers, bombs, and more there is no shortage of weapons at your disposal.
It almost feels like an old-fashioned Bugs Bunny episode with the comedic violence that is executed throughout the many rounds of Party Animals I played. The chaos and cuteness of Party Animals cannot be understated. I cannot think of the last time I laughed and gasped so much during a party game since the original Overcooked.
Smooth Controls Make Brawling A Blast
There have been several of these party brawlers over the past few years. One in particular that I played a lot was called Gang Beasts. While it was a fun game, the controls were tanky and clunky which ultimately decreased the fun of the game overall. With that being said Party Animals does not suffer from this shortcoming.
There are several quality-of-life improvements in comparison to other party brawlers on the market. The controls are not only straightforward but fluid. While there is wild and zany physics at play, I never felt like I didn’t have control of my character.
It was simple to pull off flying kicks and maneuver through different elevations of levels. Kicking and punching are your primary ways of fighting. If you land the perfect strike you will knock your opponent unconscious. When they are unconscious you can pick them up and throw them off the stage. Or eliminate them with various environmental hazards.
It is a good thing that the controls are as smooth as they are as well. Some of the levels are highly interactive and will constantly throw curveballs at you. During one level you will find yourself brawling on top of a bomber plane that is constantly adjusting its flight path. This means you might find yourself flying off the tip of the wing if you aren’t careful. However, these environmental aspects of the maps never felt cheap or unfair. Using the bomber level as an example, if you time a grapple right. You can throw your opponent off of the plane while grasping onto the wing.
Beauty in Simplicity
The best part of Party Animals is perhaps how the gameplay is simplistic enough that it can be enjoyed by the whole family. Originally I started playing it with my two daughters who are 7 and 8. They loved the adorable little animals that committed various types of atrocities against each other. They caught on to the controls very quickly which is a testament to the developers. Because, for the most part, my kids play Minecraft almost exclusively.
Then after the kids would go to bed. My wife and I would continue playing and continue to have a great time. Not only was it fun with friends and family, but thanks to having a quick match system. It will allow solo players to jump into the chaos as well. You don’t need a full team in order to enjoy Party Animals, and I love that it isn’t kept just to local multiplayer like some other co-op brawlers. The more meaningful options provided in a game for players to enjoy themselves the better.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
There are far too many multiplayer games that launch missing a wide variety of content. This content is then usually released later via a typical roadmap of content. This is not the case with Party Animals. While the game has 3 primary modes and 20 maps. I cannot understate how great it was to have 20 different and unique maps to explore and battle across. Having this amount of maps and game modes massively helps to keep the game feeling fresh even in long play sessions. Even when playing with a group of friends for a few hours in a row, it didn’t feel repetitive or boring. One of my favorite maps has you brawling on top of a crumbling castle, however, there is a twist to the level. The entire level is completely dark aside from a few lanterns and spotlights scattered throughout the level. This means you can sometimes be blindsided by your enemies when you least expect it. The darkness also covers up player nameplates, which means sometimes you will find yourself beating up your own teammate. Accidentally killing your teammate has never been this funny since hearing “Betrayal” in a Halo multiplayer match.
Many party games lack any form of meaningful depth. Quite often after playing a party game a few times you just move on to the next one. However, Party Animals has weekly challenges that provide you currency to unlock new skins and characters. As well as a profile level, that rewards you every time you level up.
It doesn’t take long to level up and earn rewards. I constantly was unlocking cosmetics and characters which kept me engaged with the game much longer than other party games I have played before. It is refreshing to see a developer understand how to provide enough meaningful content to keep their audience engaged without needing a paid battle pass or paywalling 90% of the cosmetics.
It is hard to tell exactly just how long a multiplayer game like Party Animals will last. There are so many factors that determine a long-lasting multiplayer experience. From battle passes to new maps and modes, developers always have to create new ways to keep players engaged. Party Animals is filled with some great maps and modes already. If Recreate Games continues to expand with new maps, characters, and modes, I don’t doubt that Party Animals will continue to have a healthy player base for the foreseeable future. I know for myself personally I can see myself continuing to have the game in my regular multiplayer rotation for the next few months.
Seamless Servers And Performance
Games released with a wealth of bugs and issues have become unfortunately commonplace in the past few years. Many multiplayer games struggle with servers at launch which often dampens the fun of the launch experience. This is not the case with Party Animals, I never ran into server issues whether I was playing in custom matches online with my friends, or using the game’s baked-in matchmaking system. Performance in the game itself was seamless as well. No framerate drops, no texture glitching, no weird bugs, and just generally no issues at all. It feels like hyperbole to say this, but even though Party Animals is admittedly more simple then many AAA games. It was nice to be able to just download the game, jump in, and play with no issues. It feels like an increasing rarity these days. I am sure some of the demo releases the developers did on Steam helped with this to a degree. But, the results speak volumes.
Party Animals Is A Must Play Even In A Packed Year
There is no shortage of massive blockbuster games to play in 2023. However, if you are looking for something a lot less serious, and with a big focus on goofy co-op fun, I cannot express how much you should play Party Animals. Brimming with charm, with a big focus on keeping the game simple and fun, Party Animals is likely one of the best party games we will see this year by a mile.
*A code was provided by the developer for Xbox Series X|S for review*