I’ve had mixed experiences with card-based games. While they certainly find success, many of them fail to create an engaging gameplay loop or force you to spend too much time building decks and strategizing instead of actually playing.
Insane Robots is here to strike a perfect balance between card-based combat and pitch-perfect pacing. Does it succeed, or is this idea a little too crazy?
One Flew Over The Cuckoo Robot’s Nest
Insane Robots offers a fairly extensive single-player campaign wrapped in a thin, but serviceable storyline involving a robotic uprising and forced battles with your fellow robots who have been captured by an evil overlord.
The game advertises a 15+ hour single-player campaign, and while it’s true that there are plenty of offline battles to enjoy, the story sits comfortably on the back burner for the majority of the time. Given the game’s sense of humor and whacky characters, it would have been nice to see this creativity leveraged more in the storyline.
Even so, the robots themselves have unique personalities that translate to witty quips during the heat of battle. In the campaign, you fight in large areas that come in different environmental biomes with their own challenges to overcome.
With the map covered in a fog of war, you’ll take your turn moving through hexagonal spaces as other AI robots move around the map. You can come across special spaces that offer currency or the chance to purchase upgrades that help give you a boost during combat.
A leaderboard shows the current enemies on the map and changes in real time as other AI players meet each other. This gives the game a decidedly battle royale feel that I really liked. The downside to this is that other enemies can essentially knock each other out as you explore the map, leaving you to mop up the final enemy and take the win.
In later levels, I did run into enemies faster than before, offering me the chance to really participate in the battle royale before the other contenders were all eliminated. This structure for the campaign is something I really would have liked to see translated into multiplayer, but that’s not the case here.
Multiplayer, whether it’s local or online, consists of battles and doesn’t offer the same turn-based battle royale component. I would have liked the option to be thrown into one of the game’s maps with other human players to fight it out since it works really well in the single player.
Now, let’s talk about combat since that composes the majority of the experience in Insane Robots. When I use the term “card-based” many of you will probably think about organizing decks and strategizing before entering battle with a set of cards to use against your enemy.
Insane Robots actually throws this concept out of the window in favor of a more streamlined experience. While robots each have their own starting buffs, the decks themselves are completely random. This may sound like a mishap, but it’s actually one of the game’s strongest features.
On the one hand, the lack of a set deck forces you to improvise and think about strategy on-the-fly. While it would have been nice to define some additional aspects of the deck, the decision to keep things simple gets you into combat quickly, which I appreciated.
When you enter combat, you’ll have a starting selection of cards and a limited pool of energy that increases by 1 each turn. You can play cards until you run out of energy and even spend a point to draw an additional card.
Both attack and defense are done by completing circuits, thus keeping with the robot theme. You have two slots for attacks and two for defense. Both slots must have something in them before either circuit is considered complete.
In addition to attack and defense cards, which have a set power level (1-5), there are also modifier cards and specialized cards that tip the levels in your favor. One example includes cards that randomly reassign the power level of your attack or defense, with higher levels providing more favorable outcomes.
Another type of card will “lock” slots on your attack or defense and stop any modifiers that the enemy tries to use on you once before breaking. There are even cards that deal direct damage to the enemy’s health, regardless of their defense. Those last ones can really change things up when they appear.
When you’ve established a defense, the enemy must completely drain that before they can do direct damage to you and vice versa. Remember, though, that this only counts if you have two defense cards in place to complete the circuit.
Your robot’s buffs will come into play as a potential advantage, but the bulk of your success in Insane Robots is based on luck and quick strategy. The ability to customize the deck will be missed by some players, but I personally enjoyed the ability to quickly get into the action, especially for local multiplayer battles.
A Fairly Crazy Concept, but Not Quite Insane
Insane Robots has a robust character roster with plenty of unique personalities, from robotic chefs to angry cat robots, and plenty of others if you have the season pass. The combat interface is simple and easy to grasp, while the combat animations are flashy and fun.
The trash talk from each robot fits well with their character and suited my sense of humor just fine since I enjoy witty puns. A fast and frantic soundtrack also complements the combat very well.
While Insane Robots may not appeal to hardcore card-based gamers, the streamlined experience makes for a fun title that you anyone can jump into and enjoy. The addition of local multiplayer also makes this a contender for your next gathering.
It may not be insane, but in my opinion, Insane Robots is just crazy enough to be worth checking out.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Insane Robots was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 8/28/18