Given that large portions of my childhood were spent consuming reruns of Gundam Wing on Toonami or being soundly beaten every time I played Worms Armageddon with my older brother, it’s safe to assume that the game that falls in the heart of the venn diagram of these two disparate cultural titans of the last decade would appeal to me. Mayan Death Robots is a game as simple and entertaining as its name suggests.
Mayan Death Robots is constructed on very basic mechanics, but builds on them in a way that makes a game that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. Two robots enter a two-dimensional arena and destroy everything in sight, each other, Mayan worshippers and even the arena. Each robot has four basic abilities, each has two unique destructive moves, while all have the ability to jump around the arena, or terraform the stage with building blocks which can be used to traverse gaps or block enemy projectiles. The difference is that both players act simultaneously, both have to choose their ability before the same deadline, and aim within another.
The basic mission will always remain the same, destroy your opponent’s core by any means necessary, but Mayan Death Robots gradually constructs scenarios with a depth you would not expect of a game of the genre. Importantly, layers are added to the game in such a way that each scenario feels fresh and new but you will never be overwhelmed by new information being thrown at you. Your Mayan worshippers will attack your opponent should they get too close to your core, and vice versa. Changes to the planet’s climate wrought by meddling tv producers will influence combat. The game even features boss battles with genuine Mayan gods angry to be woken from their slumber by your wanton destruction.
There’s a pleasing degree of variety to the different juggernauts available to you. These aren’t just colour palette swaps of the same mech, in fact each of the ten different options available to you have not only their own distinctive design but also unique play-styles. You have a robot with a basic rocket launcher and grenades load out for those looking to keep things simple, but other robo-deities have abilities which allow them to launch explosive drones that find their own way to your opponent’s core, or projectiles that gain power based on momentum requiring the player to make use of gravity to maximise effectiveness. Certain robots may better suit certain stages, situations, or just personal preferences.
Mayan Death Robots is at pains to let you know that it’s a game to be enjoyed multiplayer – although the single-player campaign is entertaining and surprisingly lengthy given the genre – and the mechanics truly come into their own when facing off against a human opponent. The key here is that players need to pay attention to not only their own decisions in choosing what ability to make use of each turn, but also their opponents. You can see which ability your opponents will use and how they intend to utilise them, opening up a whole world of mind games as bluffs and sleights of hand mean you can attempt to switch ability at the last moment to negate your opponents move or to take advantage in a gap in their strategy. Keeping track of this in an arena being blown apart and remade every few seconds is impossible, the game will get away from you such is the pace it’s played at, and chaos is inevitable but the key is to embrace it and just let yourself enjoy it.
Mayan Death Robots may not break boundaries but it does what it does well, and it doesn’t stick to what would be easy. It’s a game that’s fun to play for half an hour or two hours, and there’s not much more you can ask for than that.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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