When I was passed Awesomenauts I had very little experience with the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre so after doing some research and playing just about every available MOBA out there I quickly found what the games were all about. But after playing these other games Awesomenauts looked like it would be a light, easy path into a very complex genre. I was completely wrong, and that is the best news for anyone looking to get this game.
On the face of Awesomenauts you have what looks like a light hearted action packed strategy based game. All of these things are true as Awesomenauts certainly doesn’t take itself seriously. Many aspects of the game such as the voice overs for the characters are designed to add humour and the cartoon style creates a friendly appeal to what is actually a really complex, deep and addictive game.
The main premise of the game is to defend your drill from being destroyed by the enemy team whilst simultaneously trying to destroy theirs but there is a catch. There is only one way to get to the drill and that is with the help of AI droids. Little minions that travel along specific lanes in order to reach and destroy the drill on the other side, why can’t I just waltz up to it and start firing you ask? Because there are turrets along the way and without the droids to draw the fire you will be converted into a bullet storage device before you know it.
There is also a meta game though, this surrounds your character of which there are a few to choose from and at the time of review a new character was due to be released free of charge. The meta game consists of levelling up and collecting the in game currency known as Solar. For every hundred Solar collected you gain a level. You can earn Solar from reoccurring pickups on the map and for killing the enemy droids and players. Solar is also used to buy upgrades and stat increases for your character in order to remain effective.
So that is just a brief outline of what playing a game of Awesomenauts requires in terms of strategy and planning, there is certainly a lot going on and the game is just as challenging as the other MOBA titles on offer. That said the game does have a refreshing UI that makes the game easily accessible to newcomers with an easy to read map and a clear set of upgrades specific to each character.
The games style is wonderful. From the outset you know what Awesomenauts is about. The games intro has to be one of the best I’ve seen taking not just cartoon aesthetics but also having a fully animated cartoon intro complete with music to fit. When firing up Awesomenauts if you weren’t psyched to play when launching the game, you certainly will be after the intro. The quality doesn’t stop after the intro as each level has a unique design and each character has their individual soundtrack whilst you are waiting to connect to the game. These are only a few of the awesome things as the Music whilst in game is brilliant and the visuals stay sharp and true to the cartoon nature throughout.
Also the game takes on a new perspective in terms of view. Typically MOBAs use an isometric camera angle however Awesomenauts takes the role of a sidescrolling 2D game. This is a unique angle (excuse the pun) and really changes the way you have to play the game. Whereas going between the lanes in most titles takes time you can quickly switch between the upper and lower tiers in Awesomenauts creating a much tighter battle.
The controls for the game are simple and effective, some of you reading this may already have Awesomenauts for another platform and I’m happy to report that the controls work just as well on a keyboard and mouse combination as they do on a controller. You never find yourself in the heat of the moment forgetting what keys do what and with a game where the action is happening so fast and quick reactions can turn the tide of battle this is a crucial success for Awesomenauts.
The game does have an issue at this point that I would like to raise. I mentioned in the outline of the game earlier that levelling is part of the meta game involved in Awesomenauts. Well unfortunately there is something amiss with the levelling system and it is largely to blame on the way you level. In most MOBAs you earn experience through killing the other teams minions and players and level up that way in Awesomenauts you level through collectables. These collectables can be picked up by anyone so there is I feel a slight imbalance caused by this. A successful early player can become quickly underpowered due to other players collecting the spoils. This means that at times a game can go wrong even though you are actually doing everything right to begin with.
Overall if you were thinking of picking up Awesomenauts or simply want to get into the world of MOBAs then this is my recommended starting point. Fast paced action and simple controls mean the game is easy to pick up and play. Yet Awesomenauts manages to keep the complex level of strategy to make this game difficult to master and hard to put down. The unique style of the game makes it a joy to play again and again and apart from a small balancing issue cropping up once in a while the game takes the genre in new directions and does so masterfully. Romino games have created something special here that deserves to be played.