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Aftercharge Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Aftercharge, a squad-based tactical shooter, is a FPS title with a unique structure. Set within a small map where multiple mechanical totems (dubbed "extractors") pulse with a glowing light, two squads of three players fight to either destroy or save them. For their third title, developer Chainawesome Games has created a FPS that is worth looking at for those sick of seeing the same from so many others in the genre.

US & THEM

One one side of the battle are the Workonics: These powerful robots have active invisibility which is only sacrificed when punching, as well as a unique special ability based upon the model of robot being played. These abilities include Turbo boosts, punches, and various other non-lethal ways to creatively move around the map. What Workonics do not have, unlike the other team, are weapons. All of their special abilities are movement related because they're suited to finding a way to sneak up to the aforementioned extractors and punch them until they explode.

It may sound like the Workonics have too much of an advantage, but the combat balances nicely.  The other team, the Enforcers, not only see the Workonics when they are attacking the extractors, but their own weapons have a feature that disables their invisibility when in close proximity to the robots. Each Enforcer also has a special ability that can be leveraged in defense of the extractors, like shields and special jumps, but the abilities and the weapons the Enforcers wield are powered by energy from the extractors. Special abilities take more than the normal amount of energy and can therefore only be used in moderation… theoretically.

NOT ALL ROADS LEAD TO VICTORY

There is no doubt that the game model is unique and can lend itself to short bursts of frantic fighting as both sides try to figure out what in the world is going on, but it's limited by some elements of gameplay that can be exploited. After playing a multitude of games with more experienced players than I, it was clear that a few strategies would yield positive results, regardless of the makeup of the other team.

When a robot is downed, he is no longer invisible and requires a teammate to get close enough to revive him. These robots don't lock to the position they're downed at, so they can be moved by an Enforcer to a location directly next to an extractor. If another robot gets close, that robot can be downed fairly easily, or if they are lucky enough to revive their teammate, that teammate is more than likely going to be downed again immediately because of the Enforcer's ability to “set the stage.” By centralizing downed robots next to an extractor, special abilities can be spammed with no penalty or cooldown.

DOWN THE ROAD

Matches are currently locked to quickplay, but competitive play is on the way and I think Aftercharge lends itself well to the latter. Imagining an esports match where different players are particularly adept at using the special abilities of the Workonics or Enforcers is tantalizing, especially because it would test the framework of the game in its current iteration. This mode would also force balancing gameplay further, which, if the developers stay as active and attuned with gamer feedback as they have been, should come quickly.

Outside of the core gameplay, special care has been given to the visual and musical alignment, as the art styles match the soundtrack particularly well. The Workonics seem to have a 1950s-esque aesthetic that reminds one of the way people thought robots should look. (Think baby versions of the “Iron Giant.”) The Enforcers, on the other hand, seem to be torn straight out of Team Fortress 2, which is interesting because Aftercharge sometimes feels similar to the hide-and-seek mode that used to be fairly popular with that franchise. This art differentiation couples with what sounds like elevator music from the same era, intermixed with a steady techno-beat. It works nicely to complement the opposing sides.

6

The Verdict: Good

Aftercharge is a fun and easy way to spend an hour, but suffers from paltry game modes, map variation, and character identity. Where other tournament-based shooters have been able to create unique and memorable characters that players can identify with, Aftercharge doesn’t. This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if the gameplay was more balanced, or had additional modes to explore, but without those, it falls a bit flat fairly quickly. As the game grows and the developers expand upon the foundation they have laid, there is little reason to believe that Aftercharge won't be a very successful title in the future. It just isn’t quite there yet.

Alex Mickle
Written by
Wednesday, 30 January 2019 10:23
Published in FPS

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Alex Mickle is a gamer that traces his roots to JRPG’s on the PS1, but ultimately found his way to PC gaming by spending every afternoon after school playing Counterstrike at a local LAN gaming café. He is a father and husband that splits his gaming time into bursts whenever he can find time, or when ever he makes time. Alex enjoys variance and versatility in his gaming experiences and can be found asleep on the couch with a twitch steam on the television at the end of almost every night.

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