It’s about to become a very busy Q4. There’s no shortage of games landing over the course of the following months, many of which are powerhouse AAA titles that we’ve all been waiting for patiently, for what seems like an age. In the midst of all of this, indie games continue to land thick and fast. I’m not usually one to compare, but in the face of all of these heavy hitters, many independent developers have their work cut out for them to stand out. Let me be the first to tell you, Armored Freedom surely stands out, but for all of the wrong reasons.
The game is described as an intense strategy board game in which giant robots battle it out for dominance – a world in which wars are fought with titan-sized mech. Sounds marginally interesting on paper right? I say that as the waste of hard-drive space is currently uninstalling as I write. We’ve a relatively quiet week this week, with just four other games releasing alongside this; Mega Man 11, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, WWE 2K19 and Gnomes Garden. Believe me, you would do well to pretend that it was only those games releasing, full stop.
Starting up the game, you’re given a small handful of options; campaign, a skirmish mode, some “how to play” segments and so forth. Being only normal, I decided to hit the tutorial pages first, however, to my surprise, the tutorial is about as vague as the game itself. Here, you’re literally given no more than a sentence or two per-spread, giving you the basics of play and little else. Undeterred, I moved the meat of Armored Freedom to see how it handled, how in-depth it was and overall, how fun the game could be. So, lets dive straight in.
The two modes in the game consist of skirmish and campaign. Skirmish is simple enough to dive into. By and large, it’s a glorified match creation tool. The game allows for up to four teams per-game, which is to say that you’ll be fighting against the AI seeing as though multiplayer support is absent. You can indeed select the map you wish to play on, as well as the design of your enemies, but outside of that, choice is off the proverbial table. There’s no altering modes present, meaning your objective will remain the same; kill your opponents.
Gameplay typically sees you rolling a dice and selecting a random card – both of which encompass movement and attack. Yes, it’s pretty much that simple. You’ll likely spend little more than half an hour in this mode before jumping into the equally as puddle deep campaign – one that’s devoid of an actual plot. Seriously, Yasai Ninja had more story depth than this. The campaign is broken down into seven levels. There’s no difficulty slider to take to, nor is there anything else that you can adjust. You’re playing on the game’s base setting.
To give you an example of what to expect in terms of difficulty, I managed to complete the first two levels in under ten minutes. Why the hell the developer describes this as intense is beyond me. In truth, this game is much more like the Transformers’ ugly cousins, cousins that one day thought it would be cool to blow each other up on a hexagonal playing field. Speaking of maps, there’s not much (if any) variety on offer here. The game boasts differently themed maps but what it really means is differently colored grids, nothing more.
The map will be colored either green, white or yellow to depict grass, snow and sand, respectively. You’ll need to use the power of your imagination if you want to envision any meaningful change. Moving to the gameplay, again, there’s little to be excited about. You’ll bring a total of four robots to the fields of play. Here, you’ll roll a dice and will move your robots corresponding with the number rolled. The map’s tiles will have a few different pictures on them, in which you’ll either get a buff or a debuff to your attack and defense.
It’s a very chance-based system that, although easy to get to grips with, leaves any actual challenge down to fate. Once you have used your moves, you’re then able to attack. Here, you’ll select the robot that you want to use to attack, providing they possess an attack card that enables them the range to attack, and off you go blasting. Now, this is where the game falls even flatter than its design. You’re given a number of random cards to begin with, and each time you use a card, it will automatically be replaced with another random card.
You can scroll through your cards via LB/RB to select which one to use against your opposition. As alluded to above, your attack cards will have varying ranges on them, so you’ll need to ensure that you’re close enough to your enemy before you use one. You can indeed pick up cards from the map, but regardless of what card you have or what card you collect, you only need to keep on track of the number on the corner of each card. If your attack is higher than the defense card of your enemy, you’ll do damage, if not, well, tough shit.
That, my friends, is where the major problem comes into view. Armored Freedom is far too chance-based for its own good. I spent forty minutes in the skirmish mode on just one level, thanks to only being dealt defense card one after the other, preventing me the ability to attack. This amounted to me constantly moving around the map in attempt of finding a new card in the hopes of getting an attack card, and let me tell you, it was massively frustrating. Even the additional pick-ups don’t do much to make Armored Freedom feel enjoyable.
These pick-ups (three in total) consist of; shields for added protection, repair for repairing your mech, and actions cubes. These cubes are again chance based, they’ll either aid you or hinder you, depending on how kind the game feels. You’ll endure the likes of losing a few turns, having more turns added, or – something I was chasing religiously – replacing cards in your deck. The game, or at least when I was playing, tended to take a lot more than it wanted to give, making for a game that was just far too much trouble than my invested time was worth.
Occasionally you’ll pull a rare encounter from these cubes, such as destroying an enemy with a missile strike, but I’ll reiterate, Armored Freedom oftentimes seems far too against the player to dish out anything positive. Moving to the visual and audio design, I’ve nothing nice to say. Armored Freedom looks and sounds like a (very low) budget mobile game. Everything, despite the somewhat acceptable yet repetitive dubstep, is dated, poorly animated and bland. The developer couldn’t even be bothered to throw in a map background. By and large, skip this game over.
Armored Freedom is a waste of time, effort, money and HDD space. The sheer lack of gameplay depth, originality and innovation, grouped with the game’s clear focus on chance rather than skill, makes for an utterly underwhelming and overly frustrating experience. There isn’t a single aspect of Armored Freedom that I can commend. It’s a cheap cash grab, and nothing more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.