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Mech Rage

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Developer: Drageus Games
Release Date: Dec. 14, 2018


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PC Review - 'Mech Rage'

by Cody Medellin on June 21, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Mech Rage is a top-down shooter, set in a science-fiction universe.

Sometimes, simplicity is good. Games don't have to be complicated affairs, and as some old-school classics have shown us time and time again, a simple premise is absolutely fine as long as the gameplay is solid. Unfortunately, that aim for simplicity can also backfire and produce a title that only inspires you to trudge forward and beat the game so you can move on. Unfortunately, that's how Mech Rage fares.

In Mech Rage, aliens have latched on to your ship, breached its defenses, and threatened to kill everyone inside. While the rest of your crew has taken refuge in the more secure areas of the ship, you decide to take the fight to the aliens via your only formidable weapon, a decently sized combat mech. A simple plot has always been enough to drive other games forward, but the development team decided to spice things up during the levels with some dialogue. The bad news is that none of the humor works. Every joke falls flat, and the punchlines don't work — even when it appears as text. Every time it appears, your instinct is to skip it so you can get to the action.

The core mechanics are standard twin-stick shooter fare, with your primary weapon having unlimited ammo. You have a secondary weapon that starts off with a shotgun but can later be changed out to something like a cannon or grenade launcher. You aren't going to try and use it too much, though, since your ammo is very limited. You have a sprint that allows you to dodge some enemy fire and zip to places without incurring too much damage. Between levels, you'll spend the currency you pick up on the field for upgrades to your guns, and upgrades for health and secondary weapon ammo can also be found in the field.

Despite the run-and-gun nature of Mech Rage, you can't just go into a stage and blast everything in sight, despite that actually being the key to unlocking the doors in almost every given room. Part of that comes from the fact that the later levels feature things like energy barriers that need to be opened up via switches, electrified floors, and invulnerable turrets. There's also the fact that your health drains at a rather accelerated rate when you take on enemy fire, so most of your battles are going to be spent dodging and weaving behind cover in order to dole out more shots than you can take.

The idea of being tactical during your fights is nice, but the combat isn't as fun due to poor hit detection. You won't realize you're being hit until you see the screen blink red, but this happens when your health meter is over half full, so the typical death warning is very misleading. Meanwhile, there isn't any indication that the bullets you fired are doing any damage. No enemy goes down with one hit, and the common tactics you'll need when battling small swarms is to run away and hope that your actions thin the herd.

This lack of feedback is eliminated for boss fights, since they have large energy meters, but you'll discover that the fights aren't exciting because your primary gun is weak. Even if you power it up to the maximum, you'll find that the bullets aren't as powerful as your weakest secondary weapon, but since you only have a paltry amount of those shots, almost all of the boss fights are simply battles of attrition. You aimlessly chase down the boss and pelt it with gunfire until it eventually goes down instead of using a real strategy for the fight.

The negatives highlight one positive of Mech Rage: its overall length. Unless you get stuck in a level trying to figure out how to get past a barrier and into a room, you'll complete the entire game in a little over an hour. Of course, the time increases if you play on the hard difficulty level, but you won't mind the flaws too much since you don't have to endure them for too long. There's nothing left once you beat the game. Despite having a score, there are no leaderboards for points or completion time. There are no secrets or other modes, so once you beat the game, that's it unless you want to give it another run.

The presentation is solid at first but boring overall. The sound effects are fine, as is the music, but it doesn't take long before you notice that the tracks are short and loop far too quickly for the amount of time spent per level. The graphics look quite good, but the universal steel gray in each and every room makes every place look the same. That lack of variety permeates the game, making you thankful that the title is so short in the first place.

Mech Rage is a game that you play out of curiosity or because you want something that wraps up quickly. It does the shooting elements well enough, but some fights can feel like slogs due to the puny amount of damage you deliver. The overall length of the game is very short, but that ends up being a positive given the generic story and the lack of variety in the presentation. The title isn't easy to recommend unless you can find it on sale.

Score: 5.5/10

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