Sometimes, when it comes to a game that’s heavily focused on PvP, simplicity is key. Laser League is likely one of the best examples of this in recent memory. It can be nice to pick up a game, learn its basics in no time at all, and dive straight on in. Chainsawesome’s newly released Aftercharge is clearly tapping into this concept, and whilst there’s a few drawbacks overall, the game does well with what little it offers. The real question here is whether or not Aftercharge has what it takes to stand tall and firm for a good while yet to come.
Aftercharge is served as a competitive 3 on 3 first-person online experience that interestingly pits invisible robots against invincible guards – each arriving with unique classes and skills. The aim of the game is as straightforward as needs be; guards are tasked with defending objectives, whereas the robots will need to work in unity to sneak past the guards and destroy said objectives. Now, on paper, that may sound all too easy, but believe me, when it comes down to it, both sides have some tricky jobs on their hands to overcome.
There’s a light story backdrop to all of this. The game takes place on a distant planet known as Dusk 11. Decades before the game’s present, the titular Aftercharge, an energy corporation, commissioned a settlement to extract the energy residing at the planet’s core. Aftercharge created a string of robots to achieve this, robots that have the unique ability to go stealth. Following construction, Aftercharge departed from Dusk 11 and left their robots behind. Now, however, the energy within Dusk 11 is near depletion and the core unstable.
One powerful blast of this energy has reanimated the robots. Fully functional and back online, the robots have just one objective in mind; destroy the extractors that are hurting the planet. To combat this, Aftercharge have dispatched an elite enforcer squad to neutralize the robots and protect their investment. What follows on in the footsteps of this premise, is an asymmetrical team game that’s surprisingly enjoyable, if indeed far too light. Regardless as to what side you’re playing on, that aforementioned team work is vital.
Think of Aftercharge as an elaborate game of cat and mouse. The game is asymmetrical through play and design, being that both teams have differing objectives and traits, collectively offering up varying play-styles. If you’re playing as the invisible robots, you’re tasked with destroying the six extractors that are situated throughout the map. Here, sly play is the recipe for success. Careful planning, sneaking, combined efforts, and solid coordination, is oftentimes the best way to excel your team’s chances of winning.
If, however, you’re playing as an enforcer, you’re going to want to ensure that you’re constantly vigilant. Enforcers are class-based, and come with main weaponry, secondary weaponry, and a super. The twist here is that they deplete energy whenever they use a super or a main weapon, and can only recharge when close to an extractor. This makes for a tense game of supremacy, executed on small maps, and in short bursts of play, in which both sides within have overarching needs to get to those all important objective points.
The pace and the general flow of Aftercharge is really well set, with each game lasting usually no more than fifteen minutes. Playing as the robots, and as alluded to above, your primary goal is to get to the extractors and smash them all to pieces. Enforcers need only defeat all three robots, with no robot left alive, to win. Despite the fact that enforcers are both mighty and invincible, robots can indeed be revived by their teammates an infinite amount of times, however, the twist here is that when a robot is downed, they are no longer invisible.
Do you, playing as an enforcer, stay nearby the objective, or guard the downed bot? Do you, playing as the robot, save your buddy, or focus on the extractor? This element of play adds more tension to the game overall, and it’s well implemented. Interesting additions help to build upon this tension; such as the enforcers owning a special laser that will latch onto the bots and make them visible when close. This is where teamwork comes in; being that you’ll want a fellow enforcer to help take down the bot whilst you’re tailing it to keep it visible.
Amidst all of that, you’ll need a keen ear to listen out for extractors that are being damaged by the bots. Or indeed, playing as a bot, you’ll need to remain painfully aware as to where the enforces are positioned. Team management is imperative. I’ll say that much. If you don’t play safely, you’re hurting your team. It’s also useful to ensure that you’re bringing something diverse to the table. Fortunately, Aftercharge offers a decently balanced pool of abilities, something you’ll become quite familiar with after just a few hours of playing time.
I have to admit, it’s refreshing to see a game that balances its abilities as finely as Aftercharge does, right out the gate. It helps that they’re not just beneficial, but interesting too. For instance, one robot can utilize an overcharge that will destroy an enforcer’s equipment, whereas on the flip-side, an enforcer can shoot a tracker onto a robot, keeping it in sight until the tracker runs dry. There’s many useful ways to tip the proverbial scales in your team’s favor, and hopefully this is something that Chainsawesome will build upon.
The end result makes for action-packed moments that, although short-lived, constantly keeps you on your toes. The entire offering rarely grows tiresome to begin with. I’ve had an absolute blast playing on both sides of the field, but sadly, it’s a blast that dies out far sooner than it should, due to the limited amount of content within. Yes, it’s exhilarating by design alone, but its cat and mouse-like approach is only fun for so long. The game needs more additional modes and variation if it hopes to stand the test of time in the long-run.
Whilst it is indeed unique by concept, and whilst I have enjoyed experimenting with the game’s abilities and its stark differences between robot and enforcer, I found myself growing bored of it after just a few hours. The game’s level-up system amounts to little more than general cosmetic acquisition, which is fine for a competitive PvP, but unless that alone is enough to keep you content, there’s no definitive incentive to trudge through. Aftercharge needs to grow, but it needs to grow quickly and efficiently if it’s to stand out.
In regards to the gameplay, Aftercharge does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play quite nicely. This isn’t particularly difficult to pick up and understand, throwing in some accessibility as a result. The game sports some diverse maps that help to keep at least some of the game’s repetition at bay. The visuals are well designed and finely detailed, relaying a nice blend of colors and effects that merge wonderfully together. It helps, through all of that, that the game’s audio is equally as well struck. Chainsawesome, we need more, soon, please.
Aftercharge’s fun and unique cat and mouse-like concept is both neatly structured, and finely balanced. However, whilst the game offers a decent amount of depth through its well designed and diverse cast of interesting characters, it’s greatly held back due to its lack of gameplay variation. The bottom line here is that distinction alone will only go so far, Aftercharge needs to cover more ground, and soon.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.