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Hands on with Insane Robots – a simpler approach to card battling

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The developers over at Playniac have devised an idea of creating a card battling game without all the usual hassles they bring; mainly removing the time-consuming process of customising a deck and the lack of any card expansions needing to be purchased. That should, in effect, leave Insane Robots with only the best parts of any card-based strategic experience, and with it due to release on 13th July for Xbox One, I’ve been getting stuck into an early build of the game to find out what can be expected.

Insane Robots is set in a dystopian future, where malfunctioning robots are pit against each other for mere entertainment purposes in a duel to the death. In some ways it’s like a robotic version of the Hunger Games, with every robot fighting for survival. Rather than partaking in all-out brawl per se, players must use a pre-set deck of tokens to overcome their opponent and hope to be dealt a better hand than the opposition to work with – or conjure up a better strategy at least to make the best of what you have.

Each robot has two defensive and two offensive power cell slots that need to be filled with the appropriate tokens, all of which could have differing energy levels from 1 to 5. Once the attacking or defensive slots are filled, the circuit is complete and those energy bars will come into effect – having just one of each provides zero protection, nor attacking prowess. Everything you do is taken in turns and as a battle length increases, so does the amount of moves you can make per turn. Whoever depletes the opposition’s robot health first, wins.

Early signs suggest that the amount of token variety present to manipulate the fights, with new ones popping up in decks regularly, should ensure that each battle is fresh, no matter which of the modes you’re playing at the time. These include tokens that drain a slot by a certain amount, swap the in-play values around, lock down a specific slot to prevent hacking and some of them can even cause insta-damage.

Upon release there are set to be four main modes – Campaign, Quick Battle, Local 2P and Online 2P. The latter two provide a platform to take on friends either locally or online, whilst online ranked action will be available on launch day too. The Quick Battle mode simply throws you into a 1vs1 against increasingly difficult robotic opponents that you need to eliminate.

It’s the Campaign mode that’s the bread and butter of most games though, and in Insane Robots, this is where you’ll learn more about the story, before being dropped into a selection of tournament arenas, each with different environmental back-drops. Other robots are in the same position as you, with the aim of being the last robot standing in what’s basically a battle royale style format. You’ll need to manoeuvre across a map to initiate encounters with these robots and pulverise any who stand in your way. There’s set to be over 15+ hours of content in this mode alone come day one, so that’s something to look forward to.

Insane Robots comes across as a card battler for the gamers who don’t want to spend hours messing about fine tuning decks, instead merely wanting to get into a conflict and destroy as many high tech tin cans as possible. Given the limited content I’ve got my hands on so far, I’m willing the 13th July to hurry up and arrive, because despite having the appearance of a simplistic card builder, I sense there’s far more depth and strategy to it already. Who knows what else is lurking when I get to delve deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole!

Will you be joining me? I hope so, but nevertheless, a full review will be incoming to determine how good Insane Robots really is.

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