Aftercharge review: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots

3v3 arena shooter Aftercharge delivers two fun, distinct experiences in the same match.

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It’s a lovely time in gaming for team-based shooters, but that also means there’s a lot of competition for the attention of those interested in the genre. Aftercharge is a 3v3 team-based arena shooter that mixes up the typical formula with a pseudo-asynchronous style.

With a base game mode that encourages quick pick-up-and-play without a massive time sink, Aftercharge could pull in some players invested in other popular titles with its unique hook. There’s still a bit of work that needs to be done for now, though.

Fight the power!

aftercharge arena shooter review

In Aftercharge, teams of three are put together and alternate between playing as invisible robots and an invincible security team. The robots have to sneak around the map and destroy generators, while security has to seek out the invisible robots using the detectors on their gun and defend the generators.

The balancing around the objectives is great. Both sides have energy bars, but use and replenish them differently. Security has to be near the generator to recharge after firing off weapons and abilities. Robots recharge as they punch the generators. As such, when the number of generators started to get low, I had to start conserving energy when I was on parts of the maps without them less I become completely useless. The match ends when either all robots are put down or all generators are destroyed.

aftercharge arena shooter review

Further, the focus around the generators also encourages players to not be lone wolves. As Security, I can’t be hurt, but I can become a liability if I’m far away from a generator with no power for my guns. As a robot, I’m even more useless with low energy, because energy also serves as my life bar. If I’m far away and low health, a wandering security member can take me out with one shot and now my team has to leave the objectives to come out and revive me.

Snack size shootouts

aftercharge arena shooter review

Aftercharge has a good amount of depth to its gameplay. There are five different archetypes on each side of the conflict, each with a unique ability, which creates a lot of opportunities for different team compositions and strategies. Those abilities required the team to do some balancing, of course, but there are still some tweaks needed.

The builder’s shield, for instance, prevents any of the robots from moving through them (they can be destroyed with a punch). They can be used to box downed robots against a wall to keep friendlies from reviving quickly and this can be used as a pretty cheap exploit in some parts of the two maps. Strategies will develop to counter this over time, but it will be something that turns new gamers away pretty quickly.

In the matches I played where that exploit wasn’t as prominent, I had a blast. Team composition was more important than I initially suspected it would be and most of the teams I matched with were able to work well without a lot of voice communication. Player count wasn’t incredibly high, but the inclusion of bots kept matchmaking times pretty short. They can be spotted by their names, but I didn’t find their actions too predictable as is usually the case.

Sights and sounds

aftercharge arena shooter review

While the art style is steady and smooth overall, the maps are pretty impressive and full of assets. Sadly, there are only two at this time. One of the two features a more industrial design and sells the idea that there’s a world outside of the matches being played. Hopefully, future additions expand on this feeling.

Sounds are a mixed bag when it comes to weapon fire and special abilities. The robot punch sound can be a bit dull, but the gunfire has a more of a kick to it. One surprising treat is the standby music that plays when a robot character is taken down. It’s a hilarious riff on robots and actually can be modified as a cosmetic option for players. It’s a brilliant, charming idea. Other cosmetic options include color scheme changes for both sides and skins like the Joker variant you see above for the Glitch robot.

Conclusion

aftercharge arena shooter review

The foundation for Aftercharge’s growth is intriguing, but it does need something extra to bring more eyes to it. The inclusion of bots will help as it grows, though, keeping existing players entertained while new ones trickle in.

Aftercharge isn’t starting out perfect, but thankfully we live in an age where patches and updates continue to shape an experience well after launch. All that’s needed to grow is an interesting and polished foundation to start with and Aftercharge certainly has that with a lot of charm to boot.


This review is based on a PC code provided by the game’s publisher. Aftercharge is available now for $19.99 on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.

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Review for
Aftercharge
7
Pros
  • Polished experience with fast matchmaking
  • Very fun gameplay
  • Well-designed asynchronous teams
  • Wonderful standby music for downed robots
Cons
  • Only one mode and two maps
  • Some abilities need further balancing
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