By: Casey Curran
Based on my experience, things that end with “nauts” tend to be awesome. Granted, the only words I’m aware of with this are astronauts, Argonauts and Psychonauts, but it’s about quality over quantity. So when I saw that there was a game called Awesomenauts Assemble, it seemed like a perfect fit. And while the game was not quite awesome, it was still good.
Awesomenauts has a simple control setup. There are no complex moves or button press combos. Square is the standard attack, X is jump, while the other two face buttons are reserved for special powers. The powers are very simple to pull off despite how important they are to the game. The only issue with them is that it all feels a little cheap, like it is a browser game. The controls do not get in the way, but they do make it a bit less fun.
Awesomenauts has a graphic style that often feels like a more cartoonish version of Starcraft. The characters (particularly the announcer) come across like Texans in space, with one even wearing a cowboy hat. The armor and overall aesthetic is also very similar to those seen in Starcraft, but with more bright and vibrant colors, and less realism. The characters break away from this as you unlock more, however, with a very diverse roster.
The game pulls off this look very well, with the only real issue coming from a technical point. Like with the controls, Awesomenauts looks like a browser game, particularly in the animations. The game still looks very good despite this, but it does bring the visuals down a smidge.
Awesomenauts has the player select from one of several characters to get past the enemy’s guard turrets and assault a base with the help of an army of minions. Each of the characters has his (or her) own unique powers and one of several weapons, which they level up for that one game only. Sound familiar? If you have ever played DOTA or League of Legends, it should, as Awesomenauts is basically that same idea turned into a side-scrolling shooter.
Overall, the game does a decent job of replicating this style. The powers, for the most part, do a good job of contributing to a unique play style with each character, building upon a particular strategy. However, the game does require the player to unlock each character individually, with the early ones feeling more useless. This creates a rather stark divide between newcomers and dedicated players, which is not good for an online game.
The game is also a little too easy to dominate compared to DOTA. The game has only three player characters, with minions being less important here. That means getting matched with a particularly weak link, or against a player who is good enough, there is too great a disadvantage. Like DOTA, a majority of games do not end up like this, but it is bad enough to be noticeable.
Awesomenauts Assemble may not be as awesome as astronauts or Psychonauts, but it is a pretty fun game. It has a good idea, and while it does not pull off its concept as well as DOTA or League of Legends, it is still worth playing if you like the idea but do not care for the point-and-click interface of those titles.