Review: Awesomenauts

Review: Awesomenauts

“That new champion is OP.” “OP is OP!”  “Quit jungling me!” “Don’t take my blue sphere!” The mere whispering of these phrases makes my skin crawl as far away from the nearest MOBA as possible. Thankfully, Awesomenauts is there to catch it and coddle it back to safety.

Awesomenauts

If you’re unfamiliar with the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre, it consists of nothing more than one team of champions squaring off against another team of champions in a battle to see who can destroy the enemy base first. The concept is quite simple, but as games like League of Legends have shown me, there is far more to this series than simply launching oneself in headfirst and hoping for the best.

If you, like me, find League of Legends a bit too pretenious labor intensive and are looking for something a bit more user-friendly, then Awesomenauts certainly has you covered.

What sets Awesomenauts apart from other MOBAs out there is its rather simplistic approach. The concept remains the same in that you choose from a cast of varied heroes before embarking on an all out war against the enemy team to overthrow turrets and destroy enemy bots before ultimately laying waste to the enemy base. But don’t be fooled by the cutesy graphics and retro style side-scrolling action for underneath it all lies a complex skeleton that creates an incredibly deep and fulfilling gameplay experience that is not to be taken lightly.

The game really doesn’t offer up a lot in terms of tactical advice other than a brief five minute tutorial where you are introduced to the most basic concepts of the game. So, if you aren’t a season MOBA vet you may find yourself struggling to understand exactly what’s going on or even what you’re supposed to do. That being said, Awesomenauts can be a bit overwhelming at times.

Awesomenauts hero select

The initial learning curve can be more than enough to break even the most determined gamer. The cast of heroes is quite varied as are the abilities that come with each, so trying to find the best character to suit your style of play takes quite a bit of time, during which you are going to find yourself getting absolutely manhandled by the better players. You’re more than likely going to spend the first few hours experimenting with different characters and ability loadouts before you find something that you can wrap your head around. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of the MOBA genre.

The game does keep track of your personal level which results in future ability unlocks that benefit each hero, but what really drives a hot spike into the eye of fairness is that the characters you unlock down the road are significantly better than the ones you begin with; making it almost impossible to enjoy the first several levels of the game. However, I urge you to persevere, not only because you are eventually bound to find a room with people who suck far worse than you, but because this game truly does take practice to become good at. And once you are able to navigate the battlefield with some semblance of direction and understand what it is you’re trying to achieve, the game really comes alive.

Awesomenauts

The most satisfying part of Awesomenauts comes from the wild momentum swings throughout the round. One would think that with three turrets down and the enemy attacking your base that all is lost. However, that is far from the end of the match because all it takes is a well-planned attack by you and your teammates (or a well-timed monkey laser jetpack proximity mine dropping right into the heart of the fray!) to drive the enemy back and regain control of the level. However, if you get crammed into a room filled with teammates who know nothing of the word teamwork, you’re all but guaranteed to lose.

Unfortunately, I came to notice some wild balancing issues with Awesomenauts that occur far too frequently. Although there are several characters to choose from and only one of each character is allowed per team, there is a very clear combination of heroes that will absolutely dominate the field every time, especially if driven by people who know what they are doing. Fortunately, Ronimo Games is hard at work on a patch to release more characters soon. Let’s hope this trend continues because with regular updates and character additions, this game could have some real longevity to it.

MOBA vets may initially overlook Awesomenauts in favor of the more complicated titles out there, but this title is a unique enough spin on the genre to make it more than worthwhile. In essence, Awesomenauts trims the fat out of the traditional MOBA and reduces it to its basic elements. As such, if you are interested in delving into the brutal world of MOBAs, Awesomenauts is by far one of the best places to get your feet wet.

After all, where else can you find a monkey strapped to a jetpack firing a 10 foot laser into the eyes of a holographic bull summoned forth by a space cowboy who has found himself on the receiving end of an ass whooping from a light sword wielding French lizard who just duplicated himself to escape the clutches of death from the floating brain behind him? Nowhere. That’s where.

Score: 8/10

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