Where do I even begin with this game – it’s got so many miniature genres and mechanics shoved into such a tightly bound package I’d be doing the English language a disservice to try and put it all in one sentence. Actually that was pretty bad on its own. I already wrote a small piece on one of the characters in the game that really caught my eye, but after spending more time with it I feel it’s deserving of a properly written review; the word ‘properly’ being used loosely.
My article I wrote already outlined one of the characters, Voltar. Let’s talk about the rest of the game before I go too into the deep blue depths that is their character design.
Awesomenauts follows a few different genre archetypes and seems to blend them all together nicely. Let’s start out with the platforming as it’s the most accessible for every reader. The general idea is that you have a character you control who can jump (some can float or double jump) and shoot in the direction of your mouse. Many have their own way of shooting as well whether it’s a beam, a single shot, or rockets; they all match the character’s play style pretty well and give them all a different feel. This helps the game set itself apart in the MOBA genre from games such as League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients which all have auto-attacks on click.
Every character has four abilities including their standard attack that they start with, as well as their jump. The other two abilities they have depend on the character but are almost always skill-based abilities. You won’t find many abilities in this game that let you click on an opponent directly or apply on-hit. Almost all the game’s abilities require some semblance of leading the target to hit an them with it.
To add to the platforming there’s also, of course, many moving platforms in the game and you can drop through a lot of platforms by just pressing the key to go down. If you’ve ever played a platformer this move shouldn’t seem too alien to you.
On to the other side of the coin – the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) mechanics. Most gamers are aware of the MOBA genre by now, I’d hope. The most played game in the world (League of Legends) is one of the greats of this genre, and a personal favorite of mine. The MOBA genre consists of a few definitive characteristics:
1) Two teams with an equal number of players have their own bases and need to destroy the other’s. A number of barriers, often towers, stand between the two teams and their objective and need to be destroyed consecutively in their own lane to get closer to the other team’s base.
2) Minions, and lots of them. Both team’s bases spawn small minions, or creeps, that act as ways for players to gain experience and gold outside of killing each other. They also act as focus fire for turrets so players can destroy them without taking damage.
3) Items, levels, and skills. Every character has their own set of skills which can be improved upon each level gained but they can all purchase the same items in the store. The types and uses of items and abilities clearly differ from game to game in this genre, but generally follow the idea that they will improve stats and sometimes add extra uses to abilities or auto-attacks.
That’s an extremely rough description of this genre. The general idea is that two teams of players enter a gigantic map with towers and minions and one comes out on top.
Awesomenauts manages to set itself apart in this genre by not only being a side-scrolling platformer, but also by having absolutely no items to purchase in the store and no increase in stats for each level gained. This makes things interesting: all the upgrades for you character and their abilities are chosen in the shop behind your base – they often involve cooldown reduction, damage, fire rate, range, and speed. Upgrades are unlocked upon you leveling up your own profile outside of the matches allowing you to discover more.. unique upgrades for your characters’ abilities.
Some upgrades are obtainable for every character in the game and upgrade their base stats/skills like movement speed and health.
So far I’ve done a pretty bang up job so far of making this sound like the most boring game in the world. Let’s rap.
This game is a freaking blast. You’ll have way too much picking from the variety of characters and their ability’s upgrades that once you get into the game you’ll be surprised there’s even more to it. Going into the game isn’t even quite the same as anything else out there – you don’t just spawn into the level. You get propelled from a spaceship through debris of coins to pick up, giving yourself a little chance of getting a credit boost before the fight or after death.
Not only that, there’s three different maps at the moment with their own layouts and dangers. One has two lanes with neutral creeps in the middle, a few of them being pretty dangerous. The second one flaunts a single-lane set up that’s fun if you’re really, really into brawling. The final map has two lanes and a giant worm that can be summoned by jumping on a button.
Your profile levels up extremely quickly, and in fact there’s no decrease in experience earned from practice matches. You can play practice matches for hours on end to unlock every character and most of their upgrades before you even attempt to play other people. This lends even more to the fact that this game is just pure enjoyment. There’s no trolls yet in the community because you can’t troll what isn’t even taken seriously – no one really cares if they lose a match or two.
I can’t express enough how sweet the characters in this game are either. Derpl is a slug-like interplanetary 1%-er, as far as I can tell, who shoots radioactive cats out of a cannon, drops snare-traps, and can turn into a machine-gun turret. Like, WHAT? “THAT’S FREAKING SWEET!”
Like I said, this game is great. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a really fun game to jump into for 20 minutes then get out of. If you’re trying to play games like League of Legends or anything else that can get exhausting then take a quick break and try out Awesomenauts for half an hour.
Hopefully there’s enough information in here to truly give you an understanding of Awesomenauts and possibly convince you to give it a go. Find it on Steam here and give this MOBA/platformer a shot at glory!