One of Xbox Game Pass’ greatest strengths is that it has something for every kind of gamer to enjoy. While games rotate in and out of availability, at any given time, Xbox Game Pass subscribers have access to their choice of racing games, first-person shooters, action-adventure titles, puzzle games, and more. Xbox Game Pass also has its fair share of party games, with the newest being Party Animals from Recreate Games and Source Technology, a new day one Xbox Game Pass game that has the potential to become a favorite for subscribers looking for some mindless multiplayer fun.
The simplest way to describe Party Animals is that it’s basically Gang Beasts with a budget. It offers near-identical physics-based brawling as its inspiration, but with a bigger scope. The graphics are much better, the cosmetics are more elaborate, and there are many more ways to play the game. While it’s true that there are three key game modes at launch, the maps and match types within those modes offer significant variety.
The core game mode in Party Animals is called Last Stand, which features Gang Beasts-style brawls. The goal is to knock players out of the fighting area by any means necessary. Players can punch, headbutt, and even dropkick their opponents. Weapons are occasionally available as well, and many stages have gimmicks that ensure fights don’t go on for too long. For example, the Ichiban map has a poisonous gas cloud that slowly closes in on the participants, while the Winter is Coming map is dotted with campfires that gradually go out, leaving players exposed to the elements and putting them at risk of turning into ice cubes.
While players battle it out across the nine gorgeous maps Party Animals has for Last Stand at launch, they will quickly appreciate how well the game controls compared to others in the genre. It’s still not perfect, of course. After all, part of the “charm” of these games is that the controls are somewhat bad on purpose, but it’s easier to accomplish whatever one is trying to do in Party Animals than it is in some of its inspirations. Players should be able to perform the moves they intend to when they want with little issue after some practice.
One’s enjoyment of Last Stand in Party Animals is largely going to hinge on the people they’re playing with. The wobbly fighting doesn’t have much depth to it and so it can get old quick, but there are plenty of laughs to be had with friends. Party Animals allows up to eight players to battle it out in the Last Stand mode, with support for up to four players on a single console. Custom games allow players to fill out lobbies with AI opponents, which gives players the opportunity to easily set up fully populated matches with their friends. Players can still earn XP and unlocks by participating in custom games, which is a great touch that ensures players are making progress even if they’re not playing online.
Party Animals‘ local multiplayer options are commendable, though they don’t go quite far enough. There doesn’t appear to be any way to make a proper playlist of Last Stand maps for custom games. Instead, players have to play on the same map three times in a row before moving on to the next every single time. This can make some matches tedious, and it also keeps the game from taking full advantage of its varied, highly detailed maps. Instead of going from a stomach-lurching jet plane map in round 1 to a nuclear submarine in round 2, players have to fight three times on the jet, then three times on the sub, and so on and so forth, making the maps wear out their welcome a lot faster than they would otherwise.
When Party Animals players have had their fill of Last Stand, they can check out the 9 mini-games found in the Team Score mode. These vary from a mini-game where players race trains to one where they play a simplified version of football. These can be a little long sometimes since they lack the match-ending gimmicks from Last Stand, but the variety is appreciated. And like with Last Stand, everything in Team Score looks fantastic and is polished to a shine.
The third and weakest mode Party Animals has on offer is the Arcade, which currently has a Fight Club match type that is basically Last Stand with multiple lives and bigger levels. One of these takes place in a two-story winter cabin, and another takes place in a subway station. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Arcade, but it doesn’t have nearly as much content on offer as the other two modes and doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from Last Stand’s fighting gameplay.
As players compete in Party Animals’ various game modes, they will earn XP that lets them level up to unlock new rewards. This is another area where Party Animals is far ahead of the competition. Party Animals‘ skins look great, with standouts like a community-designed bat and golden variants for some of the animals on the roster. Not only are there plenty of animals to choose from, but the animals themselves have specific skins, so players can unlock new looks for their favorites. Leveling up in Party Animals also nets players in-game currency, including coins that can be deposited into a gacha machine to get what are essentially loot boxes with even more cosmetics.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything egregious about Party Animals‘ monetization, but this is a part of the game that can’t be properly tested until launch. It seems like a great deal of the cosmetics in Party Animals can be earned in-game, but it’s easy to see how the microtransactions could potentially get out of control. If Party Animals were a free-to-play game, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Its budget $19.99 price tag makes it easier to stomach, but those who don’t like paid games having free-to-play economies may still not be swayed.
People who enjoy Gang Beasts and other physics-based multiplayer games will have a blast with Party Animals as it’s easily the most polished and fully-featured game of its kind. However, it’s unlikely to convert any newcomers, and it remains to be seen how its monetization will play out. The game’s budget price and its availability on Xbox Game Pass make it an easy recommendation for those needing a new mindless multiplayer game for their rotation, but don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking.
Party Animals is a physics-based multiplayer brawler from Recreate Games and Source Technology that has players battle it out across a variety of stages and game modes.
Party Animals launches September 20 for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant was provided with a PC code for this review.