Coming from EP Games is another entry into the not noticeably understocked party game genre – A Gummy’s Life. Looking like a round of Fall Guys which has crashed into a sweet shop, the premise of the game is refreshingly simple: fight until you are the last sweet treat standing. With the promise of many arenas to fight in, multiple Gummy’s to use and unlock, and various cosmetics to enjoy, all the ingredients seem to be there. But does the blend of flavours play out as a sweet treat, or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth?
Now, as you might expect from a game of this type, A Gummy’s Life isn’t a story driven experience. There is literally no narrative, and you are left to dive into a world of fisticuffs and fighting with no idea as to the motivation of your chosen Gummy. Still, it is what it is, and the selection of Gummy people at the beginning do all bring different stats to the table, allowing you to choose one who, theoretically, should be able to suit your playing style. I say theoretically because as I shall chat about later, the only thing that seems to influence the outcome of matches is blind luck.
Graphically, A Gummy’s Life looks pretty good, with some large and distinctly different arenas to have a massive ruck in. These range from the inspired, like the staircase you have to jump up while avoiding the lava, to the annoying, like a clock face that all of a sudden disappears and kills you, unless you happen to be standing on a number. Of course, once you’ve played the levels once you are wise to their tricks, and so then a big fight usually develops around the areas perceived to be safe. A football pitch stage is also included, but the scoring of goals doesn’t seem to affect the outcome of the match, weirdly.
The Gummy’s themselves are a disparate looking bunch, coming across very much like someone had dropped a 10p mix and left you to pick your favourite (ask your parents, kids!). Choosing different hats can make it a little easier to see which is your character, as can changing to the colour, but once the action heats up, it is difficult to make out who is who, to be honest. One nice graphical touch I like is that as you get battered (or more likely, as sudden death looms as you’ve been unable to land a telling blow on an opponent) and take damage, your chosen Gummy starts to lose colour, as it’s life blood (or syrup, I’m not quite sure) is spilled on the ground. Once your Gummy is pretty much all white, it’s game over on the next hit. There is certainly some tense feels delivered then. The sound effects are okay as well, sounding like an old Bruce Lee film.
So, A Gummy’s Life looks okay, but how does it play, I hear you ask? Well, I’m going to delay answering that question for a moment while I talk about the various modes you can play. First off, and it’s nice to see a full online cross platform multiplayer system in place, in addition to local multiplayer and single player battles against bots. Just don’t believe what the game tells you – the “easy” AI bots are anything but!
The problem I’ve had with the online world though is that it is very sparsely populated, and apart from roping in a friend to help me test the multiplayer side of things, I’ve only found a couple of real life players to test my skills against. For a game with cross platform support, that’s a bit disappointing, to be honest, especially as the game has been available on Steam for some time. I’m guessing people have moved on to newer things.
The netcode isn’t amazing either, as even when you do match up, there are players juddering and lagging about the screen, moving in slow motion one second and right up in your face the next. Still, being to play against my son on the same screen, sitting on the couch, has been a lot of fun, and it works well.
Game modes are also plentiful, with modes such as Hot Potato, King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch and the “endlessly fun” Free-for-all mode. There are many modes, but they all boil down to the same thing: a fight. Team Deathmatch is the one I played most of, and it does what it says on the tin: teams fight to the death. There is nothing new or amazing here, sadly.
However, and I can’t put it off any longer, so here goes – the gameplay, the big hook that wants to get people into the game and not let them go, is missing. The game is described as having “physics based fights”, and I’m not sure which particular planet these physics come from, but it clearly isn’t Earth. The fights very quickly devolve into wandering about the arena you find yourself in, frantically tapping buttons to try and get your Gummy to do something; anything, hoping that it will happen when they find themselves in close proximity to another Gummy.
You see, there is no skill, no finesse, no planning and no feeling of ever being in control of your Gummy: just get close and then hammer all the buttons in hope of something, before “physics” separates you again. It’s a massive disappointment to be honest, and kills any fun in the game dead. What is the point of getting your mates online for a rumble, starting a game and not being able to touch them unless there’s a Z in the month? With achievements in place for “Killing 10,000 Gummy’s”, I have to admire the optimism of the developers.
To conclude, A Gummy’s Life is not worthy of being compared to Fall Guys, or even Gang Beasts. It is shallow, stupid and the controls are poor. It’s good that it’s sold as a party game with an online element, but sadly for the Gummy’s, there are others – such as Cake Bash – which are still the kings of the Xbox party scene.
You can grab A Gummy’s Life from the Xbox Store