Developer: SIleni Studios
Publisher: SOEDESCO Publishing
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, Linux
Release Date: November 20th, 2015
Mayan Death Robots seems to be the first full game released by Sileni Studios, an independent developer run by only two people. They have put a game out for the mobile market, as well as a game called Castle Quest which isn’t available on Steam and I can’t seem to find to try out. However, even these small releases are nice to see from a developer as opposed to a fresh developer putting out a title without any work as a studio under their belts. Sileni Studios has taken the leap into open water with Mayan Death Robots, challenging if they were ready to do it.
The game is an artillery based strategy game where two robot gods are pinned against each other to destroy a their opponents core on the other side of the symmetrical levels. These mechanical atrocities are justified as a television show where other robots tune in to watch their gods duke it out. The whole concept of the show was funny, providing just enough story to bridge a gap that would normally be just jumped over, making the entire experience much more enjoyable for the player.
After an open with some static, the players are dropped, one on each side of the map, and the battle begins. The game is pseudo-turn-based, where players take their turns simultaneously instead of in succession. This leads to a sense of uncertainty, knowing that the damage you inflict on your opponents core can be paralleled onto your own. Each round moves much faster this way, and in turn, is much more exciting. Quick thinking causes the rounds to feel balanced and realistic as opposed to just waiting it out like many other titles.
Mayan Death Robots has been unapologetically described as Worms-esque by the developer, a claim that is accurate with the exception of the simultaneous turns. Each god has two unique attacks, one straight straight-forward attack like a missile, and one radius attack like a grenade. In addition, you have the chance to rebuild around your core each turn, with each turn you wait to build resulting in an extra block to build. All of this seems daunting when written out, but after a game or so, I felt like an expert even without the aid of a tutorial.
All of these additions make up a very detailed experience. Every battle as a different outcome, no matter what circumstances are thrown into it. The soil of each map can be completely reworked in a battle that hasn’t even begun yet. This leads a huge variety in play styles, allowing you to tweak exactly how you want to conquer each battle because no two are alike. Go straight for their core, or build up your defences. Jump in for an assault, or plot out ranged attacks from your side. No matter how many times I played a match, I never learned a pattern and that’s a good thing. I want to be excited when I play, like it’s fresh, and Mayan Death Robots is a perfect definition of that.
The art style of the game is amazing. The contrast between powerful robots, and little Mayans on the peak of civilization is an interestingly fitting combination. That combined with the insane climate changes and giant explosions make for a rush of light and color on screen, leading furthermore to the aforementioned sense of excitement.
The soundtrack behind all of these battles is just okay. While there certainly isn’t anything annoying happening in the audio aspect of the game, there isn’t anything outstanding either. Each track is fitting, but boring. I never felt like I could listen to the music on it’s own which is really a missed opportunity for Sileni, being that a great soundtrack could open the floodgates of soundtrack sales. With that being said, the other audio aspects of the game are fantastic. The explosions sound huge, a rarity in this age of games with many triple A titles mistaking someone slapping on aluminum foil as a gunshot. At least an independent developer got it right.
With all things considered, Mayan Death Robots really is a fantastic game. It seems Sileni’s dabbling in the world of games before releasing a full title on Steam really did them justice. The game is mature, well thought out, and perfectly executed. Unlike many Indie tiles that push their way through Greenlight or capture the community with Early Access, Mayan Death Robots took a traditional route that is slowly becoming not so traditional, and because of that they have a far superior game on their hands. The lack of a stellar soundtrack certainly doesn’t break the game, or even hurt it. However, it is one more bridge that Sileni could have built to make the experience of Mayan Death Robots that much greater.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Mayan Death Robots really blew me away. I wasn’t expecting much going in, but I found myself continually playing it even after I had completed the campaign. The gameplay is exciting and addicting and the unique design of the gameplay created a diversity among players that is met with open arms. Mayan Death Robots is certainly one of the best games I’ve played this year, and with an asking price of only $14.99, a smart investment for you.