Card battlers are typically games that I don't like very much, often because of their lack of interesting animations, sounds, and visuals. Going into Insane Robots, I was expecting to feel the same way towards it.
However, I quickly fell in love with it due to it having all of the things that are usually lacking from this genre. Before I knew it, I sunk five hours into the game — and that's when I realized that Insane Robots was something special.
A deadly game of wits
In Insane Robots, malfunctioning robots are pitted against each other in a fight to the death. You take control of one of them, and in order to survive, you'll need to learn how to fight. The gist of the combat is that each robot in a duel has the ability to both attack and defend. Attack and defense cards of varying strength will appear in your deck when you draw from the randomized deck, and you need to combine two cards of the same type for them to be used in the fight.
This is where Insane Robots becomes a numbers game — for an attack to succeed, it needs to be higher than the opposing robot's defense rating. Due to this, both you and the opponent will be constantly searching for ways to keep attack and defense at maximum strength. In many situations, though, this can lead to a deadlock where nobody can successfully land any hits. This is where the specialty cards come into play.
Specialty cards allow you to alter the strengths of the attack/defense cards of both yourself and the opponent. For example, the hack card can allow you to reduce the strength of the attack card so your defenses stand a better chance. Swap cards force the opponent to swap the strength of one of their own cards for the level of yours; this would be useful if you have a low level defense card and they have a better one. There's also the lock card, which protects a card from the opponent's attempt to tamper with it.
There's several more specialty cards available in the game, and each one of them has the potential to change the course of the battle. This creates a tense and tactical gameplay loop where both you and your foe will be constantly poking and prodding with specialty cards, trying to find a good opening to launch a damaging blow. Once you finally the opponent, you'll get money, which can then be used to purchase upgrades at shops found between battles.
Aside from the excellent gameplay, the visuals, sound design and music for Insane Robots is amazing. Each robot character is creatively drawn and animated, then given a unique personality which gets reflected when the character talks smack during a fight. The insults and jeers are pretty humorous, and there wasn't a single engagement that didn't make me chuckle during my experience with Insane Robots. The soundtracks are both intense and electronic, which perfectly compliments the nature of the game.
Insane Robots' only flaw is that there's too many frequent loading screens. The game doesn't take too long to load in the arena map and combat interface, so it's a minor problem, but it was nevertheless mildly annoying.
Insane Robots Xbox One conclusion
With its near-flawless design, Insane Robots is one of the best indie titles of this generation without a doubt.
- Deep gameplay design.
- Excellent presentation.
- Too many loading screens.
Insane Robots will be available on July 13 on Xbox One for $19.99.