Party Animals — come for the cute animals, stay for the party.

Recreate Games’ offering tasks you to take control of an animal with the looks and agility of a mascot costume contestant, then contest your choice of three game modes: Last Stand, Team Score, and Arcade — and a wide variety of maps.

Party Animals gameplay: Goofy, chaotic fun that never turn too sweaty

One big caveat? The ragdoll physics, ultimately a big part of the experience, and it works surprisingly well. My character never felt out of control to me, and you can execute flying kicks, climbs, and throws that won’t look out of place in the WWE with consistency and regularity.

For the game modes, Last Stand plays out until the last person standing, Team Score is all about racking up your points by scoring goals or throwing coal or something along those lines, and Arcade is a team deathmatch with a set amount of lives per team.

Personally, the most distinct maps were in Team Score — we played through a variety of maps including trying to drop candy through a hole in the ground, getting our trains moving by shoveling coal (and people off from the other train), and even trying to play an old-school arcade game while everybody else is fighting over the machine.

While the game modes were ostensibly different, more violent players inevitably found it to be a solid strategy to just keep punching and ask questions later, like bodyguards protecting their stars from overzealous fans. To that end, gameplay can feel same-ish, especially when you are trying to do the objective and this crocodile comes flying into you and oh my god I’m just trying to put this candy —

What changes up a lot of the experience is the variety of weapons. Swinging a heavy hammer brings a remarkably different feel from the crossbow, plus the boomerang that knocked myself out more times than my opponents. Experimenting with these different items helped keep the novelty factor high, and make the next moment and skirmish much more anticipatory. Can my lollipop mace take down the entire enemy team? Is my freeze gun going to work? Can I finally stop hitting myself with the boomerang?

In the end, it all comes together with a visceral jankiness that works well to dampen any over-competitiveness, even from the sweatiest of gamers. Sure, maybe you’ll get a bit mad at losing to a well-placed bomb — but you are a kitten wearing a Darth Sidious costume with wobbly arms and legs, jumping all over the place trying to kick somebody in the face. There’s barely any sweat here, just screaming and laughing before moving on to the next round or map.

Party Animals’ cast of characters helps to sell the overall experience. It’s surprising how well each animal exudes their personality: from the grumpy cat Levi’s “I need more coffee to deal with this” to the corgi Nemo’s innocent exuberance. The cosmetics also lets you add more personality — but I did wish there was a bit more customization here, like top, bottom, and accessories, instead of just sticking to one full outfit.

It might not have the staying power to put in hundreds of hours, but Party Animals is a solid party game for people willing to embrace the chaos, and will surely elicit raucous laughter, plus generate some truly awesome highlights.

Party Animals is out now on PC, Xbox Series S|X, and Xbox Game Pass.

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