My first encounter with developer Futurlab was with the excellent Velocity 2X, a fun side-scrolling shooter/platformer. Hearing they are tackling Peaky Blinders as their next title has piqued my interest even more.
There’s no campaign for this game so we’ll skip straight to gameplay. Upon booting the game you are given a cute little mech to dress up and it’s revealed you are a bigger mech and yes, you can dress yourself. It feels exactly like The Playroom but once you’ve sorted out your characters you are dropped into the 10-part tutorial. While it sounds like a lot, there’s quite a lot to cover. Presented as a tabletop arena, your goal is to collect 3 Victory Points by either collecting a coin or defeating the enemies. All Mini-Mechs have 3 hit points and a single Victory Point spawns per round.
Watch the Mini-Mech Mayhem – Full reveal trailer below:
Rather than giving everyone a turn each or allowing free movement, Mini-Mech Mayhem allows you to plot 3 moves at a time. Every action you take has a point value. Stepping one segment to the left is a single point and as expected moving 3 segments is 3 points. You can choose where to shoot an enemy but again, they have different point values. This is where the surprisingly deep strategy comes into play. A normal shot to an enemy takes off a single hit point but head-shots take off 2 and knock a Mini-Mech back a segment. Shots to the arm change shot trajectory and shots to the leg make the next move a Mini-Mech take go in a different direction. On the surface level you would think it’s simple to move into position and forcibly move an enemy to death or away from the goal but the round goes from lowest point value onwards. You can aim for a leg shot at the other end of the battlefield but that enemy may be long gone and you’ll watch your bullet hit a wall. Power Cards add even more depth to the title. Each round a Power Orb spawns and getting this gives you access to one of 2 Power Cards you have equipped, these range from jamming enemy guns to repairing your health. These have their own restrictions as to when they can be used and with all these elements in play, Mini-Mech Mayhem is a shockingly deep game.
Once you’ve made your plan, you can’t change it. You have to watch it play out and there is no way to skip these segments. Normally it would be frustrating to watch it all play out, akin to watching a golf ball fly to its destination every time in a golf title. It’s essential you watch though because you never know if you can use a Power Card, or if your enemy will. Once you land on top of the Victory Point, you still aren’t safe as every turn needs to play out. This puts you in a dilemma. Do you book it for the Victory Point and hunker down or do you go for a kill by pushing them down the pit? Another option is to let the enemy fight and take out the straggler. On the surface the game appears to be a cute little robot game but this is as in-depth as The Banner Saga or Frozen Synapse. As you rack up wins you unlock a litany of cosmetic items to personalise both you and the Mini-Mech.
View some Mini-Mech Mayhem screenshots in our gallery:
The main issue I have comes with the battlefield itself. It being the same size is fine and the random elements of where things spawn is great but the backdrop for this is the same and playing the singleplayer mode just drops you into a game, there are no levels of increasing difficulty. Having multiple backdrops you unlock as you defeat opponents would have felt like much better progression than just cosmetic items. You may be able to choose your difficulty but that’s about it and you really need to play against 3 AI enemies otherwise it just gets dull. I didn’t renew my PS+ so I didn’t get the chance to try out the multiplayer but it supports up to 4-players.
The game looks quite nice, much like The Playroom VR. The issue of the same backdrop really grates after a few hours of play and there is the same aliasing issue that plagues almost every PSVR title. Framerate is rock solid as expected. Music and sound effects are pretty typical but I can imagine the game benefiting from online chat. A personal issue for me is that I’m getting sick of seeing the same Playroom VR style bots in PSVR titles, it’s a small nitpick but one worth mentioning.
Overall, outside of my respect for Futurlab, I wasn’t expecting much from this game but the core gameplay is seriously great. You have to start out with luck and then nail down a long term plan quickly. It’s impressive stuff and I can easily see this being a fun multiplayer game. It really needed a stage based campaign with a levelling system and a few different backdrops to help long sessions but as a pick up and play title, you can’t go wrong with this.
Mini-Mech Mayhem was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: FuturLab Developer: FuturLab Release Date: 18th June, 2019 Reviewed On: PSVR / PS4