McDROID is a game from developer Elefantopia in San Francisco and is the first game they have released. It sees you play as a quirky robot character and involves fighting off creatures and enemies.
You return home to Planet M and find that hordes of alien creatures have started to infest the world. It becomes your job to help restore the planets natural state. The gameplay revolves around protecting your spaceship from waves of creatures, bugs and alien lifeforms. To do this you have to do things like build defence turrets. You can start to build defences once you have gathered strawberries by planting, growing and harvesting them in each stage. The game is all about keeping on top of supplies and having enough going in order to fight back the alien creatures.
The game starts by slowly introducing you to the core mechanics and what you will be doing over the course of the game. The first few stages are pretty straightforward and help ease you into the gameplay structure. You shoot enemies with lasers and they will drop green seeds, which you plant to grow strawberries. The strawberries that you grow basically act as the currency you will use to upgrade and purchase various items like turrets and shields.
The game feels like classic RTS games in some ways as growing strawberries takes time, you can only carry a certain amount and you must try and keep an eye on everything that’s going on at the same time. I really enjoyed the management aspects in the game and it felt interesting enough to keep me invested.
The game does start to become more tricky and challenging as more obstacles and elements are thrown at you. You can find that you will become heavily overrun by waves of enemies and it becomes critical that you get into a good rhythm of planting, growing and building in order to fight back and survive. You have to repair your turrets as they become damaged from all sorts of enemies including slugs and bugs. You also have the ability to pick turrets up and move them around the stage. You can even keep one on your back to shoot enemies yourself.
McDROID has fairly simple controls that feel easy to use and the introduction does a good job of helping you learn the mechanics. There is an on-screen HUD that looks useful, but in fact it can feel a bit awkward to use at times. You use the D-pad to navigate the menus, but its important to bear in mind that time doesn’t stop as you do so, and therefore you’re still vulnerable to attack. Once you start playing the game and giving it a few goes, you will begin to learn what aspects to prioritise first and how to manage the various aspects. After a while you unlock the option to spawn mini robots that help gather the berries for you.
You place your turrets on specific mounts in each stage, which is key to fighting the waves of enemies. You place trees on mounts as well, which help to grow new flowers around it. These strengthen the turrets and stop the enemies causing damage to the world. Planting saplings next to strawberry patches enhances their rate of growth and therefore impacts the rate at which they can be harvested.
The game doesn’t really have much of a story but that’s ok as its all about the strategic gameplay and system management. The single player missions have a series of challenges, which once completed open up even harder objectives. You can also have a friend jump in and assist you during the campaign or in the Arena Mode. The game has online co-op play and it doesn’t seem to scale the difficulty level of enemies in the game.
The presentation of the game is great, with bright and colourful environments that have a real sense of style. The game has a cell shaded look that often reminded me of the Borderlands series. I thought it looked great and added to the overall charm and appeal of the game. The sound design is also simple but suits the gameplay well.
Overall I enjoyed the game more than I expected. The world and stages you play through are vibrant and well designed and the game offers a decent challenge that does increase fairly steadily. It does take some practice to learn the mechanics and what aspects to prioritise, but this is what makes the game fun. I would have liked to have had a bit more of a story but overall it’s a decent game and certainly a great first title for Elefantopia’s first release.
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