Aftercharge by Chainsawesome Games revolves around two teams of 3 with the usual set up of attackers and defenders. The goal of the attackers is to destroy the energy extractors that are spread throughout the map and the aim of the defenders is to stop the attackers, obviously.
Pretty simple set up, right? Well, the thing that makes this particular first person shooter a little more unique than the usual “our team vs their team” is the way the developers have utilized the game mechanics.
Let’s start by discussing the attacking team. You’re not a human, you’re a robot… an invisible robot. This adds an element of strategy to the game as the defenders literally can’t see you coming, until you a) start attacking the energy extractors, b) use your special techniques, or c) attack/approach the defenders. Once you perform any of those actions, an observant defender will find you and try to stop you. As an attacker, you can be disabled (as opposed to killed, like in other games), a state in which you are fully visible. Any teammate can run up to you and revive you, after which you will go invisible again. But this can be tricky as the defenders could guard your body, knowing that someone may come to revive you. For the attackers to win the round they have to destroy all the extractors on the map.
As for the defenders, they are indestructible. So no matter how much the attackers try to hurt them, they won’t lose health. At most, the attacks will be a diversion from defending the energy extractors. The defenders’ weapons have a special energy beam that will come out automatically and target an attacker if one is close by. This will temporarily reveal the attacker, allowing the defender to try and disable them. For the defenders to win the round, they have to disable all 3 of the attackers.
Unlike other games, Aftercharge does not have a class system nor are there weapon or gear unlocks. Each player chooses from a pool of characters, each with their own weapons, powers, and styles. Some characters are better for healing, some for damage output, others can build defensive energy walls to protect the extractors (or to protect themselves as they attack the extractors) and some are better at escaping the enemy. Each character has an opponent character that it is strong against and one that it is weak against, so it is best to try out all the various characters to find the ones that work best with your style and the strategy of your team. Character skins and color customizations can be unlocked by earning coins through regular gameplay or by purchasing coins through a microtransaction screen. The color customization is limited to just the character’s main body color.
In regards to the game’s graphics, Aftercharge has a cartoony look and feel, which works for this experience. The characters are slightly disproportionate; with big heads and small bodies, bulky arms or legs, but these are just aesthetics and don’t affect the characters in any way. The color palette of the landscapes contrast nicely with the bright, neon colors of the weapons, character tools and other interactive features. All in all, it adds a refreshing visual to the often repetitive photo-realism graphics of big name games.
There are currently 4 maps that the game randomly drops you into; Quarry, Refinery, Glacier and Sanctuary. They are small, but offer many opportunities for varying strategies due to their 3-dimensional layouts. The Refinery map, based on an industrial building, has several choke points that the defenders can use to set up ambushes against the attackers. The Quarry, which is an abandoned mining site, is more open than the other three maps and so the attackers have less cover and would need to be more stealthy if they wish to succeed. The Glacier map, which is the only snow covered affair, has plenty of arches and gorges that can be utilized for hiding, sneaking or ambushing the enemy, whilst the Sanctuary has a village of the dead look to it. It is also more open than the Refinery and Glacier maps and attackers need to be careful moving around. With only 3 players per team, the small size of the play arenas aren’t a hindrance and most players probably won’t notice because of the constant, frantic action of the match.
Teamwork is the key to success in Aftercharge. The small number of players on each side means communication and coordination is required in order to win the match. This can be difficult if you’re just dropping into games with random people. In one of the matches that I played, I was disabled and because I could not communicate with my teammates, had to sit and watch as they took turns being disabled and revived, all as they frantically tried to take down the last energy extractor. Neither one made any effort to revive me and it was rather frustrating just sitting there. I recommend bringing friends with you into Aftercharge and making sure you’re in party chat.
Overall though, Aftercharge on Xbox One is a fun game. The matches are relatively short, there aren’t a lot of confusing upgrade tiers to worry about, no grinding needed to unlock weapons and gear, and plenty of opportunities to try new strategies to win the match. It’s not at the top of my nightly playlist, but it’s a great alternative to games like Fortnite, PUBG, or Battlefield. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber you can download the game for free, which is a price tag that is hard to pass up.
If you don’t have Xbox Game Pass, Aftercharge is available for £16.74/$19.99. As fun as this game can be, it would probably be best to wait until it was on sale. There are many games available at that price point or less that have a lot more to offer in terms of play variety and depth than Aftercharge. Unfortunately, there is only one game mode currently available with a competitive mode due out at some point in the future, and so all that combined does mean the gameplay can get quite repetitive.