What do you think happens when you no longer have a use for your gadgets and gizmos? Or when they become faulty and no longer work as they should? Do you think they just go in the bin to be recycled or crushed down and never seen again? Don’t be so sure about that, because I have it on good authority that many of these things end up being sent to fight to the death. Or at least that’s what I learnt when playing Playniac’s roguelike, turn-based strategy digital card game, Insane Robots.
Set in a dystopian robot world where broken and faulty models are cast away from society (much like the plot to the 2005 film Robots), intelligent metal beings are being forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of an evil robot ruler. However, in the shadows of his kingdom, a rebellion is brewing and you’re a key part to bringing down the regime that casts a great depression over the lands.
A voice awakes you, confused and dazed, you look around but can’t recall a single memory of how you got there. It’s almost like a sex offender wiped magnets all over your body to erase some indecent images. After many short and brief chats with the voice, it appears you have the key to bringing down the king, or at least a part of it. And to get the rest? You’ll have to fight to the death and make sure you win to ensure justice can be done.
You’ll make your way across many lands as you battle, with each battlefield being made up of a number of cells where you, your opponents, and a number of interesting opportunities will be placed. Different lands will have different effects on the maps, meaning your movement may be more restricted, and you’ll also have your vision blocked by a fog of war like effect, which may or may not be permanently removed from the map as you pass through it, again dependent on the effects of the land you’re based in.
When you finally stumble across an enemy, of which there will be multiple on each map (but luckily also looking to wipe out the other competition), you will be brought head-to-head for a battle to the death. Each robot will have a set number of health points, and if you’ve already battled someone on that map during the round and continue to fight on, any health lost in previous battles does carry over. So be careful when to pick your fights and who you pick them with.
The battle stage is taken in turns, with each turn needing actions to be completed. These actions will use action points, some more than others, but they do refresh each round of your fight and with each phase, another action point is added. You’ll then have to select a number of cards to help your robot win, these include attack and defence cards, as well as boost, glitch, lock and swap cards. Attack and defence are simple, they are what will allow you to deal damage to and withstand damage from your opponent. You must play two of each for a complete circuit in order for you to attack or your robot to defend themselves.
The remaining cards are to assist you in other ways. If someone has a stronger card than you in the attack cards, you can swap it for your lower one. A lock card, however, will protect the same being done to whichever of your cards you place it on. You can then also glitch your cards or their cards, which depending on how high scoring a glitch card is, could potentially raise your attack/defence or lower the enemies. With a low score glitch card though, this can backfire and the chance of success is lower. So plan your battles well. The final card is a boost card, this will add a boost to either your attack or defence, depending which you need first.
Certain cards can then be combined to create new cards, including universal cards that can be placed on either an attack or defence square. These come in extremely handy. There are a few other types that pop up too, but I won’t spoil much more for you before you get a chance to play the game yourselves.
As you make your way through the game, you’ll find events/opportunities dotted around maps too, as mentioned above, and these will also help you on your quests. They’ll offer opportunities to earn credits, which you also get from winning fights, as well as opportunities to visit stores so you can buy new abilities and heal yourself. You can also purchase extra permanent health points which makes surviving multiple fights a hell of a lot easier.
There are a couple of nice touches to the game, one being that you unlock new robots as you battle and beat them. The best bit though is you not only get to use these robots in the story mode but in multiplayer modes as well, whether it be local or online. Which for me, adds to the replayability of the game because once you complete the story, there isn’t much that makes me want to go back really, albeit the game is quite fun. So the addition of being able to kick the asses of friends is very much a welcome one.
As much as I have enjoyed playing the game though, I did find I faced a fair few bugs on the PS4. The majority of which caused the game to crash and kick me out, setting me back a little each time. Fortunately, the game autosaves quite often, but not enough to stop it being irritating. I also had the odd time where the game crashed and I had to manually close the game down because nothing would respond at all. A royal pain in the backside that was equal to the robot king.
That said, I do really like what Playniac have done here, and it has been the first digital card game of this type that I’ve enjoyed for a very long time. The story was nice, although not too strong throughout, more of a focus on having fun battling robots, and the gameplay mechanics are well thought out and make sure that you need more of a strategic element to your game rather than just going in and being able to smash opponents straight away. Despite all that though the bugs and the crashes did mean that over time, I’ve fallen a little less out of love with it than when I first started playing. Still, it’s a nice little title to pass the time.
Insane Robots is developed and published by Playniac, and is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. For more gaming reviews from the FULLSYNC team, click HERE.