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Playing Your Cards Right In Insane Robots

Cards Against Insanity.

The world of card games is evolving and fracturing. Where it used to be that you just had CCGs and TCGs, now we have interesting innovations in this space that use cards in games in completely different ways. In Insane Robots your cards are your attacks, but while this in itself isn’t new, the way the games has you use them is. Rather than certain cards equalling certain attacks you just get different cards with different effects.

The first cards you come across are just your standard attack and defence cards. Each of these must be slotted into one of two aggressive and defensive slots in order to work, as if you only have one slot filled then the card is effectively useless. Each of these cards has a numeric value from one to five and are cumulative, so if you have two defence cards of five equipped then you have ten defense.

Each card takes one energy to equip as standard and each attack consumes three energy to pull off. Each turn progressively earns you extra points of energy, so the early matches have you spending the first two turns building an attack up, then killing the enemy on the third. As the game progresses and new cards are unlocked the matches get more complex. You become able to weaken your opponent’s cards, strengthen your own, swap cards in and out, and even just deal direct damage to them. To add to this you can buy and install different augments for your robot of choice in order to change the strategies you can use. For example, you can make it free to slot in attacks, meaning you can leave it until the last moment to build up your strike, which is a huge advantage.

The choices in each match at this point are countless, and are much more interesting for it. A good match is a constant flow of strength from you to the other and back again. Small attacks launched to whittle your enemy down until you can finally land a killing blow, the variety of tactics makes these immensely satisfying. Unfortunately that satisfaction is currently seldom found due to the somewhat dense robots that you face off against.

In the current campaign it is rare that you’ll find a challenge, and the same is true of the Quick Battle mode which pits you up against the named bots you find throughout the current campaign. However, there is a PvP mode which helps to counteract the issues present with AI battles, providing both you and a friend have similar experience with the game you can have a fair bit of fun.

During the campaign you traverse individual arenas with different terrain and events. There are some interesting little features on the hexagonal tiled arenas that help them feel different from one another. You can find side-quests to do, usually just text descriptions of something you have come across, but they add a bit of variety to the way the game flows. The fog of war and the terrain advantages are both nice touches that add a bit of extra complexity to the arenas that you have to make your way around in order to find the fights you need to get to the next one. There are some entertaining touches to keep the player thinking throughout the experience as much as possible.

Though there are some flaws, the game is still enjoyable. The card battling has some truly fantastic moments if an opponent has the upper hand to start with, and stealing an attack chip in order to land the final strike is incredibly satisfying. With a final release a few weeks away starting from 10th July across PS4, Xbox One and PC, I  hope the finally version will have better AI to truly challenge the player, but this is already a well polished and inventive card battler.

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