Nerd Confessions Podcast: We punch and grab for our funny bones this week as we play the ridiculous beat ’em up party game, Gang Beasts from the small indie developer, Boneloaf. Why all the meat theming such as Beef City, pink goo level and gelatinous characters? Does the game have enough depth to make it relevant at the $19.99 price point? Is the game worth coming back to enjoy with your friends over and over? Why is what appears to be Trump in this game? We cover all this and more on podcast this week. Watch or follow along as we discuss!

During Listener Confessions this week we are featuring @psychicmisstexas and her Super Bowl predictions against her son in addition to our own confessions for the week.

Now available on iTunesStitcherYoutube and below:

Catch our let’s play of the game and the ensuing pandemonium in the video below:

Show Notes

Gang Beasts by Boneloaf

What is Gang Beasts?

Gang Beasts is a multiplayer beat ’em up party game with gelatinous characters, melee fight sequences, and hazardous environments, set in the fictional metropolis of Beef City. At initial release it contained 8 multiplayer stages. The core gameplay involves using various physical abilities such as punching or kicking an opponent until they are “knocked out”, and then attempting to toss them over one of the stage hazards. Opponents that have been knocked down are not completely defenseless however, as they can fight back to be released.

Development

Gang Beasts is developed by Boneloaf and published by Double Fine Presents.

The company name, Boneloaf comes from a misnomer they used to refer to the hunks of collectable meat in classic arcade and console games. The company is based in Sheffield, UK and was founding March 21st in 2011.

Boneloaf was setup by three brothers (James, Jon, and Michael Brown) to make games and toys informed by an adolescence spent watching bizarre Filmation and Hasbro cartoons, playing multiplayer arcade and console games, and drawing silly characters.

For three years members of the company prototyped a series of experimental games working from geographically remote locations or meeting for game jams when members could take time off from their individual work and education commitments, a number of these prototypes were built with iterations of a custom procedural animation framework.

You can see where the game was in development at that time from this version called Ludum Dare #27 jam entry:

In late 2013 a basic punch mechanic was added to a high fantasy game prototype to test if it could be adapted to make a mêlée fighting party game similar to Capcom’s Final Fight, Sega’s Streets of Rage, Konami’s Crime Fighters, and Taito’s Double Dragon games.

In mid-November of 2013 the company committed to making the mêlée fighting game prototype their first commercial game (giving it the working title of Gang Beasts to conform with the naming scheme of other game prototypes). On the 11th February 2014 Boneloaf showed Gang Beasts publicly for the first time at the TGDN x Animex event in Middlesbrough (UK), an event organised by the Teesside Game Developer Network (now called Game Bridge) for the Animex International Festival of Animation and Computer games.

At conventions such as PAX East where Boneloaf was present, the game was extremely popular with large groups gathering to enjoy the ridiculous gameplay.

The first public pre-alpha build of the mêlée fighting game was published through IndieDB.com (an online independent game development resource) on the 14th of February 2014 concurrently with a Steam Greenlight submission. The game was greenlit by the Steam community on the 4th of March 2014 with a significant number of votes from the Giant Bomb and Nerd³ audiences. In late March 2014, a month after Gang Beasts was greenlit, three members of the company started renting a small room in a gallery in Sheffield (UK) to work full time on Gang Beasts. In June 2014 the three members of Boneloaf were joined by friend and illustrator Jason Pugh.

As you probably know Double Fine is the game developer most well known for games like Psychonauts, Grim Fandango and the famous developer Tim Schafer. Since March 2014, Double Fine announced that it would begin publishing indie games under the moniker Double Fine Presents. Using that program, Double Fine makes its publishing capabilities and offices available for other independent developers to help them finish their work by funding, publishing, and promoting it. The idea came about during the Amnesia Fortnight 2014, where local San Francis coindependent developers were working alongside Double Fine in their studios during the two-week period, with the intent to help give them exposure through the production process as it was filmed by 2 Player Productions. The idea of Double Fine providing more long-term assistance to these indies arose during this event, forming the basis for this program. According to Double Fine’s COO Justin Bailey, the goal of this approach is to “help indies build their own community and empower them with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed on their own”, providing them assistance “customized to what indies need without also creating a certain codependence” that other publishing means require.

The game released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, and PlayStation 4 on 12 December 2017,

Reception

In  its freeware alpha state, as well as upon Steam Early Access release, the game was met with positive response from critics and fans.

Outside of early access, Gang Beasts received mixed reviews from critics on both the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game. On MetaCritic, the game holds a score of 67/100 for the PlayStation 4 version based on 8 reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews.”

The game was nominated for “Excellence in Multiplayer” at the upcoming 2018 SXSW Gaming Awards.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions

What do we think of the combat? Ridiculously fun, but without the depth of even more fun gaming elements such as weapons.

Does the game have enough depth? In single player no. The online is also slow and buggy, however the local mode is where the game is at it’s strongest.

Game modes:

  • Melee: Standard beat’em up free for all mode.
  • Gang: Color coded team mode.
  • Wave: AI Opponents continually spawn in waves for battle against one to 4 other players.
  • Soccer: Color coded teams use the game fighting mechanics to struggle to get a ball to the goal.

What do we rate it? 7 out of 10

That’s it for this week!

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