While walking around the convention center at PAX, I was waved over by a group of developers surrounded by a bunch of PC’s all hooked up, asking if I would like to try their game. I happily accepted and was quickly sat down and began playing my first match of Mad Machines, the debut title from the Denmark studio, Hero Blocks.
As I began I was introduced to the mode select screen where it was decided I would have a 1v1 match against one of the developers that were at the booth, even before I knew exactly what sort of game it was that I was going to play. Always up for a good challenge and surprise, I selected my mech of choice, the offensively geared mech called Jet, while the developer chose the Viking-inspired well-rounded choice, and then we were off!
As soon as the match began, it was immediately apparent that Mad Machines takes much of its design from the incredibly popular competitive game, Rocket League, with its wide-open arena, sloped edges, and giant bouncing ball that you must score with. What this game does that its inspiration does not, however, is adding in an extra combat mechanic where the mechs on both teams are able to punch and shoot each other in an effort to gain control of the ball. Adding in a touch of that fighting game vibe, that while doesn’t change the core experience of the game over Rocket League, does add some additional depth to the experience. A shield at the goals adds an additional mixup to the formula, in order to break the shield you will have to hit it with the ball while it’s moving fast enough. Alternatively, if you destroy one of the enemy team members, you will enter an Overdrive state, where the shield around the goal is removed completely!
Aside from the shield and the fighting mechanics, this is an experience many players have had before. You are able to boost to try and grab the ball, pass to other teammates, shoot and bank the ball around the arena off the slopes to try and position it better, and so on. You and your chums are able to play together against A.I. controlled bots, but in the second game I played, with the developer I had faced off with as my teammate, we got utterly destroyed by the A.I. So bad was our loss that we failed to score even a single point against the bots onslaught, netting themselves seven points. Hopefully, the bots are tuned a bit more or we are given a difficulty option when the game gets its final release.
One of the omitted features that will not be in when the game first comes to early access, and one that I find to stand out the most, is there are no customization features to speak of. With only three types of mechs to choose from and no method to customize the look or even color of your avatar, I worry that players coming to Mad Machines will begin to lose interest at looking at the same three mechs all the time. The developers mentioned that this is a feature they want to add, but at the current time, they are focusing on making sure each of the three classes feels and play well, which is an important and respectable decision.
An alternate game mode that I asked about and that they said they are toying around with, is a fighting arena mode, that does away with the ball altogether. I hope that this mode is added soon into the games launch onto early access because I think this could be a real standout mode for this game. A fast-paced loose and chaotic arena robot fighter would be a blast to play, and not have a giant hurdle like Rocket League to stand up against. Hero Blocks currently has plans to release the game in an Early Access state when the Discord Store launches later this year and will be available on Steam as well. Launching with 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, initially
I had fun trying out Mad Machines and look forward to seeing how this game will continue to develop and evolve as to goes from early access to final release.