Back In The Zone

Back In The Zone

 

Late last year I wrote about Clone Drone In The Danger Zone,  a short but already extremely enjoyable demo about robots clashing in ferocious gladiatorial combat. Since then, the developer Erik Rydeman has been discussing recent additions that have dragged me excitedly back in. 

The premise of the game is essentially unchanged. At the start of the round, you rise into the arena and your only objective is to murder all of the other robots. How you accomplish this can vary from knocking them into spikes, lava or rotating blades, smashing them to pieces with a gigantic hammer or slicing them in half with a deadly sword.

While single opponents don’t present much in the way of a threat, when you’re trying to line up a swing while simultaneously dodging two arrows, a pit of spikes and a ticking bomb that’s just rolled to your feet, it can quickly add up to a chaotic masterpiece.

Once the robots lie shattered and their remains collected by the cheerful Garbage Bots, you have the option of upgrading your survivor via the helpful long-armed Upgrade Bot. You can take the opportunity to improve your sword, acquire a bow or a jet-pack, before heading back into the arena for the cycle to begin again, and again, until one of your opponents gets lucky and cuts you in half.

In less than six months the game has ballooned with new challenges that unlock additional abilities for your sword robot. You can expect a series of fire-based levels, ducks, and even a set of levels that leave you unarmed aside from your feet. For streamers, added Twitch support allows spectators to place wagers and even add enemies to each round for the player to battle.

Yes. Ducks.

For me, however, the most crucial addition is Photo Mode. After I fell in love with the option in Mad Max to pause the game, move the camera and take beautiful pictures of the cars and environment, having this mode translated practically unchanged to a game about blocky robots hitting each other with hammers and swords makes me incredibly happy.

Hitting tab at any point drops you immediately into photo-mode, where you can shift your point of view to any location to line up the perfect screen shot. More crucially, you can return to the game in an instant, meaning you can easily combine the two natural companion hobbies of photography and high-speed combat. I’ve been spending a surprising amount of time attempting to line up the crucial shot – something my robot assailants have not been overly cooperative with.

Clone Drone currently does not offer a multiplayer mode, although when prompted Erik did reply that they are “interested in, but not committed to, exploring it.” For many, this might seem like a bizarre omission for an arena-combat game, but for people with little time on their hands (or children, as I like to call them), and possessing none of the talent required to ‘git gud’, I’m perfectly satisfied by the challenge currently offered by the AI.

The game has sustained an admirable development pace, and the developer is welcome to community feedback and suggestions on new abilities and enemy types. Even if the rush of development does slow, there is still plenty to enjoy here for the current price tag of £10.99.

Next on the development list is a map editor which Erik has already begun to show off. It looks extremely user-friendly, and if it does become Steam-Workshop compatible as suggested, I’m expecting a ridiculous number of surprising and unexpected challenges to emerge from an already excited community.

Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is now available on Steam and Itch.io for £10.99 / $14.99

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