What do you do with a robot if it goes insane? Well in Playniac’s turn-based battler you’ll make it fight to the death in a fun and unique card driven game which puts tactics to the fore.
You begin as the friendly and misunderstood little bot called Franklin, who is condemned to fight for his life in a brutal "last bot standing" arena. The gameplay sees you traversing a series of hex grid maps – the usual selection of deserts, woodlands, mountains, etc – fighting any bots you come across as there can be only one victor.
When the combat kicks off it employs a simple but deceptively strategic system where you must complete an attack loop of two cards in order to launch an assault and / or a similar defence loop to try and fend off the enemy. In addition to this dynamic there are boosts, hacks, and glitches that can be played to either improve your stats or deplete your foes’. Battles can literally turn on the pick-up and use of a card such as ‘swap’ that allows you to switch your current card with the enemy’s.
The battles will be familiar to anyone who has played Yu-Gi-Oh! or Magic: The Gathering games but are much less complicated affairs. You won’t need to swot up on any detailed arcane lore or know how best to wield a whole deck of different cards but you will need to think fast and play the best card for the situation. It’s a nice change from having to build your own deck of cards in order to play, it also means that you can’t short circuit multiplayer games by purchasing more packs to build an unbeatable hand.
The plot sees you adding a nice range of bots (there are 40+ to collect) to your cause – each of which can be powered up with various enhancements and so has its own spin on how to battle. The overall objective is to kick off a robot rebellion and take down a big bad robot overlord, which is likely to take at least 15 hours.
There are eight tournaments to battle through in the single player campaign, each is procedurally-generated with randomised loot drops and vendors / factories where you can spend the cogs you find. The various robots are rendered in a cute cartoony style that feels a nod to the classic Advance Wars.
That’s the bones of it and it works really well – sure it does get repetitive after a while, so we’d advise tackling the main campaign in bite sized chunks. The other good news is that there is a super-accessible local two-player option which is a blast – and can lead to some banter as you can see each other’s’ hands and so can potentially see your doom coming. The online two-player is good too but can take a while to find an opponent.
Insane Robots is a classy and fun new spin on a tried and tested concept. It runs like a dream on the PS4, looks nice, and is entertaining both solo or in local multiplayer.