I’m not really a fan of the online, collectible card games, such as Hearthstone. Personally I don’t enjoy the fantasy styling and the complexity of the majority of them. Fable Fortune was an exception but it was probably more due to my love of the franchise. When I saw Insane Robots at EGX Rezzed earlier this year I was pulled into it’s colourful, energetic styling, but will that be enough to make me enjoy an online card game? Insane Robots is developed and published by Playniac and is available for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
For those of you who share my views on this genre of game you’ll be pleased to know that Insane robots completely does away with the card collecting element of these games, and also throws out three-headed dogs and complicated statistics. Instead, it has a simple random deck that is used to create the most intense two-player battles that I have ever played (with cards). These battles can either be online, local, or via the AI in the 15 hour story campaign that must be a first for a game in this genre.
The battles themselves are where this game will succeed or fail and they are relatively simple to learn. Your robot has two attack and two defense slots. Placing attack and defense cards in both these slots will give those circuits a value. The maximum value in these circuits will be ten. If your attack value is greater than your opponents defense value then your attack will be successful, the opponents defense cards will be destroyed and then you’ll start to take down your opponents health. Your attack cards will also be destroyed. If your attack has a value of nine, and the opponents defense value is ten, then your attack cards will be destroyed but the defense cards won’t. If your opponent hasn’t completed his defense circuit then you’ll start taking down health immediately.
The fun comes when the special cards are played. There are glitch, hack and swap cards that can all be used to change and mess with the opponents attack and defense slots, and your own cards, which puts an end to those matches where all circuits have a value of ten. Boost cards can be added which increases the attack and defense values, and there are also damage cards to automatically take health away, along with health cards that give you health. As you proceed through the campaign you will also earn additional cards that will double your defense or swap the circuit values if it will be beneficial. All turns follow the card game standard rules, with action points increasing each round along with additional cards being given.
It’s all very easy to learn, and is quite quick to master as well. The cards given to each player are identical but are given in a random order. This may sound like winning is just a matter of luck, but it never feels that way. Cards can be combined to create other cards, including dual attack/defense cards so you never feel disadvantaged by the cards you are given. I’ve had some battles that have been over in a matter of minutes, but I’ve also experienced epic battles that have gone back and forth for ages, as the two robots have swapped and glitched until one was finally victorious.
As mentioned before there is a campaign mode in Insane Robots that tells the story of Franklin, a robot who awakens to find his memory wiped and he is tasked to defeat the other, titular, robots. These battles take place in a variety of procedurally generated worlds, all laid out as hexagonal play areas with pick-ups and shops scattered around. Franklin moves around the play area, almost like a board game, either avoiding or taking on your enemies. To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of this part of the game, especially when some of the areas had environmental features that obscured the view of the play area, meaning you couldn’t find your opponents. The campaign is split into different tournaments with increasing difficulty levels, which become quite hard and challenging, and will require visits to the shop to refill your health between battles. Of course, you will find yourself unable to do so on all occasions, so you will find yourself heading into a fight with only half health. Whilst in the shops you can also buy augments that can be added to your robot, which can increase its stats and powers.
Another great feature of Insane Robots is the music and sound, and you know its good when you find yourself humming the main tune when you’re not playing! The robots all have digitised dialogue in the form of insults to their opposition, and these never feel boring or annoying. The different campaign worlds also have their own themes that all feel just perfect. The main thing that first attracted me to the game were the visuals and these are colourful and vibrant and definitely add to the games appeal.
There is a huge variety of game types to play in Insane Robots, but it all comes down to the way the battles are designed that will give it the longevity it needs. Personally I love them as they are simple to learn but incredibly addictive. Whether you are working your way through the story or having quick multiplayer battles with your friends or complete strangers you’ll find thrill, enjoyment and challenge with Insane Robots. Personally I would like to experience the game on a mobile device as well as a console, as the game type and style would fit perfectly to those devices. A Nintendo Switch version would be lovely!