MOBAs, or Multiplayer Online Battle Areas have been around for a while, gathering fans left and right with its complex player vs. player gameplay. In order to stand out from the huge pool of games in the genre, developers have to switch up the formula in order to make their titles unique. Such is the case with Romino Games and their game Awesomenauts, a multiplayer tower defense/offense 2D shooter where groups of space mercenaries band together to take down opponent’s energy core. Does Romino Games newest title stand out amongst the competition?
Light on story, the game tells the tale of the Awesomenauts, intergalactic mercenaries and guns-for-hire. In the year 3587, robot armies fight for dominance over the galaxy and power. In order to turn the tide of battle in their favor, these armies hire the Awesomenauts to add some fire-power to their teams. And that’s pretty much it. Despite the very thin back-story, it’s not like a game like this needed it. After all, Awesomenauts is all about the multiplayer action.
In case you didn’t know, Awesomenauts is solely a multiplayer experience. Sadly, there is no single-player campaign or mode to be found in the title.
A 2D platforming tower defense/offense game, players select from a roster of six colorfully animated Awesomenauts to wage war in 3v3 online multiplayer battles. In addition to the standard jump and shooting buttons, each character has two unique abilities. Some abilities are more offensive oriented, such as a quick dash attack, or an incredibly damaging self-destruct explosion, while others are defensive, such as droppable mines and healing machines. These abilities and a number of others that complement them, as well as gun damage and player health, can also be customized before each encounter, making individual and unique builds possible according to the player’s focus before each match. Each ability can be upgraded during battle by earning money, which can be acquired by defeating enemies and staying alive.
The objective of each mission is to destroy the rival teams energy core at the opposite side of the map. In order to get there, however, players will have to take out a number of very strong, deadly unmanned turrets in order to progress to their destination. To take these down, players will have to band together and use their collective attacks pick away at the health of these damaging weapons, while using small friendly robots as cushions to absorb incoming turret fire. Rival team awesomenauts will not make the task easy however, as player locations can be seen on the mini-map, so they’ll quickly rush in guns blazing to defend the turrets, and can even turn the tide around, going on the initiative and attacking the other team’s turrets instead. The blend of offensive and defensive gameplay is a nice element that makes it feel more strategic than a mindless shooter. Although the action can frequently get hectic at times, it’s a refreshing feeling when a team has pulled together to destroy a turret or successfully defend one.
If a player should fall in battle, that won’t mean it’s over for him/her. Defeated players respawn after a few seconds of wait time, in the form of a drivable dropship. While the dropship falls towards the player’s team base, it can be steered in order to collect floating money which can be used for upgrades. This allows fallen players to continue upgrading their abilities and stand a chance against stronger foes who are earning money by killing enemies.
Awesomenauts can be a difficult game to get into for first timers that play loose and reckless. To succeed in this game, players must play with a team mentality, sticking together when necessary and separating when there is an opening in the opponent’s defenses. If a team plays the game like a run-and-gun shooter, they’d be swarmed and defeated in a heartbeat.
Additionally, the key to success also lies in the right combination of Awesomenauts on a team, as unfortunately not all characters are balanced. Some characters are weaker than others, and can be easily overpowered by the stronger characters. Thankfully Romino Games has addressed the subject, and a balancing patch will be available sometime soon.
For those wanting to polish up their skills, the game also features a practice mode, in which players can select the map of their choice and face off against A.I. opponents. With this mode, the layout of the maps can be learned, and strategies can be formulated in order to be more effective in online battles.
If playing online with some random players isn’t your style, you can also bring along two other players for some split-screen action. I’ve found that playing with friends at home is better, because we could plan out our strategies better, and were ultimately more effective in battle.
Overall, Romino Game’s Awesomenauts is a solid multiplayer tower defense/offense game that is full of fun gameplay and thrilling moments. Despite the lack of a single-player mode, unbalanced characters and a somewhat steep learning curve, it’s a great multiplayer experience and a time-killer. If you like participating in online melees and love upgrading characters mid-battle, I recommend you try this one out.
Thanks to Sandbox Strategies and Romino Games for providing a copy for review.