Mayan Death Robots (PC) Review

By Thomas Wrobel 17.01.2016

Review for Mayan Death Robots on PC

If Team 17's Worms was not a game series, but a genre, then it would be safe to say Mayan Death Robots is part of that genre. It's certainly a game of ballistics aiming with crazy weapons - but Mayan Death Robots differentiates itself by being fast, pseudo-real time, played on one screen and having a vastly smaller (yet changing) roster of weapons. If Worms was a game of chess, then this is more akin to Smash Bros - taking pride in its onscreen chaos. Is there is a good game under that mayhem or is it holding the game back from being a true classic?

It sometimes feels like there's a secret competition between games developers to come up with the most bizarre theme imaginable. Recently there's been entries such as Goat Simulator and I Am Bread, and before that we have had games like Super Monkey Ball, and if we look back into the dark ages of gaming there was even projects like Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars starring Zapp the Dog.

By comparison the premise of Mayan Death Robots seems almost completely rational. At the height of the Mayan civilisation, alien robots descend from the sky and start attacking each other - all in the name of an intergalactic television show. The Mayans worship these robots as gods - which in turn annoys the 'real' Mayan Gods - who join the fight. Straightforward, really.

The game is played with players taking control of these robots, and duking it out against either AI or a real player taking control of the other robots. Each player has just a few seconds to pick a weapon and then an additional scant few seconds to aim with turns taking place simultaneously. At the end of the countdown, both weapons are fired together whereupon the players sit back and watch the results. Turns repeat until one of the players "cores" is destroyed... Or falls off the map.

Screenshot for Mayan Death Robots on PC

This structure of gameplay works well, meaning players never have long to wait to for their turn. It also means - to some extent - players can react to each other during their turns. The downside of this system is it's not instantly intuitive, and with no in-depth tutorial the game just expects players to understand it with a combination of trial, error, and occasional bits of advice on the loading screens. It doesn't take long at all to get the hang of it, but not having at least a few minutes spent guiding the player through the process feels a little amateurish.

In fact, when selecting the campaign, the game starts with little in the way of introduction at all. This is a shame as with the "gameshow" style presentation all over the title screen and menus, a little bit more effort into storytelling would be fun. The levels do have a description from the perspective of the gameshow host, as well as some in-level animation when the level starts, but these don't form any part of a strongly linked narrative and feel more like random events.

Screenshot for Mayan Death Robots on PC

The campaign itself has a decent length and variety of scenarios in it, but fails at actually explaining those scenarios well. The level description gives some flavour text, but there's no clear description of how the objective varies or what gameplay has changed in this scenario. This means that, regardless of what effort the developer has spent making this level unique, it's played identically to the rest, with players blowing up their enemy's core while protecting their own. This illusion of nothing much changing is made worse by the campaign allowing any map to be picked. While in theory this creates diversity and replayability, in practice it feels more like random skirmishes.

This feeling of insubstantiality, however, is only really skin deep. There is both a decent amount of content with a lot of thought going into it. After selecting a map, the player gets to pick a robot, with different robots having different sets of weapons. A lot of the weapons are fairly interesting to use, and shows the developer seems to understand that one of main appeals of Worms was the various ways to destroy the landscape. As such, a large amount of the abilities seem based around different forms of landscape destruction - but also landscape creation. Many weapons create new land and, in addition to the robots weapons, there's even a constantly recharging ability to place tetromino shapes onto the terrain or, to put it another way, they stuck Tetris into the middle of Worms - and it works.

Screenshot for Mayan Death Robots on PC

The constant flux of landscape destruction and creation is thus the games strongest point - players constantly weighing up the need to destroy their opposition's core with the need to protect their own. The other neat addition to the standard formula is that of boss battles. Many stages at some point have huge Mayan gods that have to be taken down before the battle can proceed. This is a thoughtful addition that instantly turns a competitive game into a cooperative one.

Another example of the developers thoughtfulness is the accommodation for gamers who prefer not to work though the campaign - there is an "unlock everything" option in the game settings that means people interested solely in multiplayer can jump right in and experience everything. Gamers who want to be rewarded by unlocking stuff, naturally, will just have to use some willpower.

Screenshot for Mayan Death Robots on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Mayan Death Robots is essentially the Smash Bros of ballistic missile games. Almost certainly best played in multiplayer, it's for anyone that loves thinking from moment to moment, and for the results of their actions to immediately fill the screen with unpredictable chaos. The game's single-screen, single-unit nature is what keeps this action fast paced and fluid. However, it also results in a game lacking both the longer term planning as well as the variety offered by the Worms series. Depending on what the player is looking for, this loss may be acceptable.

Developer

Sileni Studios

Publisher

SOEDESCO Publishing

Genre

Strategy

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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