The multiplayer scene in gaming is booming at the moment, with the likes of Call of Duty, Overwatch and Rocket League all dominating the lives of many gamers. Ready at Dawn, the developers of Deformers, have targeted the arena brawler corner of the multiplayer market, hoping to bring a frantically fast paced and enjoyable experience to the masses. Will Deformers possess the winning formula to succeed, or instead live up to its name and be all out of shape?
Unfortunately, it’s more of the latter.
Deformers is a game centred around squishy creatures battling each other across a selection of three different game modes. Catering for up to eight players online, players control a single creature each, in third person perspective, with the ability to roll, dash, jump, block and shoot their way to victory. Not that you’d necessarily pick up on this, considering you are given no tutorial as to what to do for any of the modes and all that offers a helping hand is a gander at the controls.
Choosing the type of squishy I want to use – from a choice of ranger, marksmen, guardian, speedster and striker – is the first major decision to make. Each class has a minor difference in stats, in regards to shooting, dashing and blocking. Upon entering a bout, I began playing in a state of pure confusion as I got battered from pillar to post, utterly baffled as to the aiming mechanics or how I could have any kind of positive influence on the game.
Eventually, I figured out that two of the three modes – Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch – both followed the same aim of having to ram your squishy little being into the opposition enough times to drain their health entirely, or to knock them off the edge of the arena, thus earning a kill. Alternatively, shots can be fired which also depletes the health meter efficiently. In the end, the player, or team, with the most kills after three rounds wins.
As there’s a heavy emphasis on the physics side, the manoeuvrability of a rolling squishy suffers, seeing you having to put an effort in to change direction or course at any point. When the bulk of the action involves having to launch yourself at opponents, it makes for a lot of misses and even regular occurrences seeing you flinging yourself off the edge by accident. There are spells where you’re left chasing people with little to no hope; that’s if there are any people, because truth be told, the online community appears to be sparse in terms of numbers.
A month into its life, Deformers has been a struggle when it comes down to finding players to fill up a lobby. In fact, I haven’t been anywhere near a full lobby so far. For a game needing chaos to thrive, there’s very little excitement going on when it’s 1vs1 in a Deathmatch arena, basically playing cat and mouse. In the only match to achieve a half-full lobby, I still found the gameplay to be lacking the fun factor. The rest must’ve felt the same as they all left straight afterwards.
The third and final mode on offer is Form Ball – which is surely influenced by Rocket League – and it focuses on two teams trying to get a ball into each other’s nets, using rams and throws, to score a goal. Sadly, it fails to capture the soccer based magic we’ve seen before, and I think that’s down to a number of reasons. The first of which is having only a single, quite frankly bland, arena to compete in and the second, arguably more important reason, is in regards to the inability to find enough players for the match to begin online.
The only way I am able to play is via a custom lobby, going about my business in private with dummies in place. These dummies do not move or anything. They just sit motionless, which begs the question – why not include functioning bots to fill the void when necessary?
But hey, there are always the split-screen capabilities to look forward to. I wouldn’t get too excited about that prospect as not only is it not clear how to add another player in on the same console, but when I figured it out, the visual set up is terrible. One player gets the top left and middle of the screen, with the other getting bottom right and middle, leaving a large amount of black empty space in the opposite corners.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom, and things liven up with a hefty amount of customisation available in the Workshop. Here you can choose from a massive range of options in terms of your squishy creature’s appearance, including new bodies and accessories. Each unlock comes at a cost of the in-game currencies, which can only be earned by playing and levelling up in online matches – well, that puts a stop to unlocking all those then!
My final point is to praise the variety in Deathmatch arenas and the colourful nature of all things going on. Whether I’m rolling around a Wild West themed arena or getting flung off the edge of a big top inspired design, I can appreciate the designs and differing layouts provided.
Overall then, and Deformers has bounced its way straight into a brick wall – hindered by a lack of players and a very high price tag of £29.99. A price point that is almost double what I’d expect for the couple of modes included. There’s not enough variety in the modes available and Form Ball fails to create an enjoyable experience. What Ready at Dawn have done well is all held inside the customisation options, but the inability to regularly get a game to earn currency to buy stuff really holds it back.
Don’t bother yourself with Deformers; it’s too pricey, sparsely populated, and not really fun to play anyway.