Recently, I’ve been hitting mini walls when selecting a game to play after a long day of whatever. Old favorites feel routine and games I’ve meant to start seem daunting. It’s times like these when I find myself drifting half asleep through the neon orange glow of the late-night Nintendo e-Shop perusal. The “deals” section is the delightful evolution of television shopping networks of the past, offering cheap adventure and excitement in place of the bad boufant haircuts and spinning jewelry of yesteryear. While it is easy to accidentally buy a game that will be put down in an hour, every once in a while you find a gem that sticks.
Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is one such game. To explain it simply, it is a polygonal robot combat in which you fight with various weapons, gladiator style. Explaining it simply doesn’t speak for the surprisingly touching story moments, the varied and exciting gameplay moments, the dry but effective robot humor…this one is a lot more than it appears at first glance. For under fifteen bucks, I was willing to take the plunge, and I’m glad I did. This game kicks ass.
For starters, the combat is varied and fun. Much like the combatants, you’re kinda thrown into the story with little explaination as to what’s happening aside from some control tutorial text boxes. Through the comentary of the two arena announcers, to dialogue between characters and enemies as the story progresses. It’s a fun story, with some challenging moments. I had some legit Dark Souls moments a few times.
The combat is based is more timing and positioning based. With swords, spears, hammers and bows legs and arms can be cut off as your robot hops toward another adversary. The action ranges from insane back alley knife fight shitstorms to a dance of blades and patience when it’s down to you and one other robot.
The visuals work perfectly with what they were going for with the whole vibe. It’s kind of a minimalist, 90’s 3D look to it. This looks like the kinda game pld-ass, grown man, Back to the Future 2 Marty McFly would have. The music is mostly trance and such, totally fits and some of the tracks kinda slap. The commentators gave me some honest to god belly laughs, especially with Commentortron’s answer to the question of how one defeats multiple robots: “The same way you eat an elephant. Cut it into small pieces.” Mind you all the humor is delivered by voices that sound like GPS voice options. Genuinely funny with it’s own unique brand of humor. It’s surprisingly one of my favorite parts of a game I really enjoy playing.
Later in the story a mechanic is added where you get six lives per checkpoint and switch to whichever robot last killed you. This is pretty cool as it mixes things up, allowing you to sample all of the weapons you may not have tried out yet. At one point, the game becomes a solid space shooter for a little bit. It’s off the rails, but it never screws up any of the crazy shit it tries to pull.
It even has multiplayer. Pretty robust for an indie game under twenty bucks. There are various co-op and PVP modes, though admittedly I’ve been playing the story and single player challenge missions mostly. The times I did rey online, I was surprised to find it pretty active, with small waits to get into matches.
I didn’t really see this coming, but I watched the trailer and my eyes grew into dinner plates. Seriously, if I’ve at all piqued your interest and you’re still on the fence, go watch the trailer. It’s how they got me. It’s everything that trailer promises and more. With a name that sounds like someone trying to make up a video game name on the spot and a crazy look and vibe, Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is a sleeper hit.
…and because I know you’ve been thinking it the whole time:
All screenshots taken by me. Archer is property of FX.