Mimic Arena is the debut title from Portland, Oregon-based Tiny Horse Games. An entertaining nod to the 2D platform shooters of yesterday with a twist – the eponymous Mimics. After a player is killed, their “Mimic” appears where they originally spawned and retraces the steps taken by the player leading up to their death. Projectiles that were fired by the player will also be fired by the Mimic and they will kill other players all the same. This forces players to keep on eye on Mimics and try to remember the previous moves of their opponents as they move through the level with the help of wall jumps and teleporters.
Mimic Arena features three game types. The first is a standard Deathmatch mode where players try to take each other out while dodging fire from enemies and Mimics alike. The second is Survival – essentially Deathmatch but with laser beams intermittently blocking various passages throughout the stage. The final game type, Infiltration, was my personal favorite, mostly because it makes such great use of Mimics.
In infiltration, players start in their own goal area and make their way to their opponents’, leaving a telltale trail as they go. Once a player reaches an opponent’s goal, they’re transported back to their own goal as their Mimic sets off and retraces the successful path to the opposing goal. Points are only scored when the Mimic reaches the goal, requiring players to balance the need to establish Mimics, defend Mimics, and defend against enemy players and Mimics
Deathmatch and Survival were enjoyable – with the laser beams in Survival catching me off guard more than once – but it was Infiltration that led me to discover different strategies to outwit and outmaneuver my friends. A personal favorite is banking shots off of angled walls while heading towards the goal in order to create a Mimic that replicates these shots and can potentially take out an enemy player or Mimic. You can’t foresee where your Mimic will be attacked from, but firing preemptive shots can catch future assailants off-guard. It’s a fun concept that makes for some interesting matches once you get your head around it. While the game lacks a tutorial the controls are intuitive and I got the hang of things after only a few short games.
In my time playing Mimic Arena the framerate was smooth and the gameplay was glitch-free, although I did experience an issue unlike anything I’ve seen before on the Xbox One that I feel the need to mention. While at the game mode select menu I attempted to check my friends list only to realize I wasn’t able to, nor was I able to back out to the home screen, or even turn off my Xbox. I tried again using the other connected controller and once again the only control I had was over the game. My Xbox hadn’t frozen up, it was just as if I was locked out of the rest of my console. Thankfully the power button on my Xbox still worked and the system appears to be back to normal. While no real harm came from this, it’s still not good to see issues with a game spill over into normal system functions.
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