Forget the military mod origins and the Lost-style island lore. Deep down, Battle Royale belongs on TV at 7pm on a Saturday. In between a Simon Cowell putdown and the revelation that there's nothing in the fridge except chicken dippers of unknown provenance. Battle Royale belongs to the Expanded Cheggers Universe, and finally here is a game that knows it. Fall Guys wraps you up in foam and padding and then sends you across a bunch of soft play hellscapes (tautology?) in a fight to find the last Tic-Tac person standing. If this game was a building it would be on the edge of an industrial estate and they would give you grippy socks before you went in. And even then it would still smell of feet.
None of this is a criticism. Fall Guys made my daughter laugh so much and so quickly that it must be a kind of magic - snort-laughing, where giggles get backed up and then come out through the nose. You're dropped into a game with 59 other peanut people and you have to make it to the finish line, or stay out of the slime, or work together in groups to get a ball down an incline or something like that. Complicating things are rotor blades, see-saw platforms, huge plastic fruit tumbling towards you, or something like that.
People are knocked out of the competition after each round and by the end of it a single person, generally dressed as a pigeon or a carton of French fries, is the winner. You can spectate when you get iced, and in between games you can level up and spend in-game points on costumes and unlock stuff on a sort of Battle Pass. The shop rotates stock pretty regularly. It's all rather slick.
Thankfully it's not too slick. There's something really touching about watching the little characters wobble through throngs of their ilk on their way to the finish line. Except in team games you really don't have to think about other players in the same was as you do in, say, Fortnite, so there is a very slight tinge of the loneliness of the long-distance runner to things at times, albeit a long distance runner who's dressed up as a chihuahua for the day.
And some of the events are really excellent. After a run of finish-line affairs with teeter-totters and travelators you'll suddenly find yourself in Hex-a-Gone, where hex tiles drop away in layers the longer you stand on them, so you and thirteen other donuts have to keep moving to stay above the drop.
What this game needs is players, which is why its arrival on PlayStation Plus is such a brilliant move. August will ring out with the sound of snort-laughter and people falling into pools of goop. This is a simple idea but one that's quite smartly done. It's gloriously tacky. It might be a keeper.