Chainawesome Games' Aftercharge recently hit Xbox Game Pass and we got to play the game on stream here on Gamereactor. After said stream ended we were simply having too much fun to quit there: cue this review. Aftercharge is a competitive game with a delightfully comic-esque setting that sets six players on two different missions. Three people are put in each team, and one team's objective, the team controlling the robots, is to destroy a number of extractors. Meanwhile, the other team's objective is to destroy the enemy robots until all of them are disabled, however, the bots can revive each other unless they're all downed. This may sound easy enough but there's a whole lot of tactical plays to be made here and there's a catch that affects both teams.
The three players on the robot team are invisible to the opposing, defending team, up until they're in close range to one or more of them. If a robot is close to a defender, not only is said robot visible to the closest opponent; they're made visible to the entire defending team both physically and with an arrow marker, showing the defenders the direction the robot is located from the closest defending team member. There are also multiple ways apart from this that the defending team can reveal the robots. The easiest way is to shoot them, which reveals them for a short moment and can be done from anywhere on the map. Some of the defenders also have skills they can use to reveal and/or trap the poor mechanical saboteurs.
The three players on the defending team also have scenarios to keep in mind. These characters can not be killed, only pushed away by the robots, but they have a finite number of shots and skills (such as being able to build walls to trap the bots, being able to send robots to scan and reveal enemies, or sending an EMP grenade towards the attackers) to use and to recharge the energy needed they need to stand next to a working extractor. An extractor that's been damaged grants the defenders less energy than an intact one would and a broken extractor doesn't grant them any, meaning the more extractors that get sabotaged, the fewer locations the defending team get to recharge at.
This is where tactics come into play. One can certainly just shoot into the air, hoping to get a bot with a stray bullet as a defender and someone can definitely just punch their way to victory as a robot but Aftercharge really shines when a team is tactically coordinated. Personally, we found the game to be the most fun when playing as the robot called "Buddy", you see, every character has his or her special, exclusive abilities and Buddy's special ability gives him the option to make a friendly bot invincible for a short moment until his charges run out. When playing this character we found ourselves being more of an asset to the team as we mostly kept to the shadows, shielding our friends from certain death from afar. Our new pals then sent some charges our way, which you can do from anywhere on the map as long as you can see the character you want to boost, giving us the option to keep them alive for longer while they were pounding away at the extractors or get a teammate up after being disabled.
As for the defending team, we found it easiest to keep to the tutorial character wielding an assault rifle type weapon as we could miss a few shots but still have plenty of rounds to hit the bots with - this being our favourite defender simply because we've got the aim of a stormtrooper. With this defender we also had grenades and an air strike type skill, making crowd control at the last remaining extractor easier than if we would have just had our rifle.
Aftercharge is extremely fast-paced in every sense, the teams are small, the rounds are short, the learning curve is wonderfully tiny but with potential for major league tactics if one's good at the game, the objectives are clear and simple, the maps are small and well designed, and the amount of time spent looking for a match is minimal. It's a delightful game to just pick up when you're looking for non-stop action and it truly is a game for everyone, in more senses of the word than one. One can play the game with professionals as a beginner and still be an asset and this little gem of a game has cross-platform play with PC and Xbox and it's coming to the Switch later on. And what with the very reasonable price tag, we wholeheartedly recommend it.
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