STAFF REVIEW of Deformers (Xbox One)

Monday, May 22, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Deformers Box art Deformers is probably one of the more unusual arena combat games I’ve played in recent memory. At first glance it looks adorably cute with its small and round squishy characters, represented as balls. What makes it really unusual though is that fact that developer Ready at Dawn is behind it, the studio best known for bringing us The Order 1886. Going from one genre to this is a drastic jump, and while I’m glad they got to work on something a little more lighthearted, the execution was overall lacking for numerous reasons.

Deformers is strictly a multiplayer experience, be it splitscreen or online, so don’t expect any offline gameplay or any sort of story. Deformers is simply an arena combat game, nothing more, nothing less. So while the asking price may not be full retail price, it still feels a little high given the content, or lack thereof, contained within the package.

You play as these squishy round balls named “Form’s”. These forms can be rolled in any direction, jump, grab objects and other players and shoot little pellets. Depending on the mode you decide to play, your objective is either to throw other Form’s off the map, destroy them or score goal in a Rocket League-like mimic.

As you begin you’ll only have a few skins of Forms to choose from, but there’s a ton of cute characters and customizable items to unlock as you progress through the ranks online, should you be able to get it to work, but more on that shortly. The characters are adorable, each with their own unique look, ranging from barnyard animals to a stack of pancakes or hamburger. You can then further customize them visually, but again, that content is locked behind your progression.

There are only a handful of different maps that you’ll play on, ranging from a carnival theme to different deserts. As you’re about to begin your match you’ll need to choose from one of five different classes, each of which has their own strength to match your play style. Speedster is obviously the quicker one, Ranger is average in everything, and the others are suited for offence or defense, depending on your play style.

In Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch, you defeat your enemies by either making them explode or knocking them off the edge of the very small circular maps. You have the ability to do a Sonic-like dash that can blast an opponent quite a distance and damage them, you can pick up your enemies and throw them or even shoot tiny pellets from your limited arsenal if you decide to play that way instead.

Movement in general takes a little getting used to, as motion doesn’t feel precise at times. In the beginning you’ll no doubt overshoot where you wanted to go and miss many of your dashes into other players. Shooting also feels a little off, as it takes some getting used to to do properly. Shooting your pellets is a way to defeat the other enemies, but you have very limited ammunition and it takes a lot of bullets to defeat another Form from full health. The majority of your points will come from your dash attacks either splatting or knocking enemies off the edge of the map.

There are three different modes for you to compete in: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Form Ball. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are self-explanatory where the player or team with the most points at the end of three rounds wins. Form Ball on the other hand is an attempt at trying to be like the uber popular Rocket League, yet devoid of the fun and excitement. If you’ve ever wanted to play Rocket League with squishy balls instead of cars though, Deformers has you covered.

In theory, Deformers’ 8 player online competition sounds like a ton of fun, which I believe it absolutely would be, that’s if I could ever find a match. In the whole time I’ve had Deformers to review, I’ve spent an obscene amount of time waiting and looking for a match online to compete with other players. I’ve been unsuccessful in this attempt even once. So I’m not sure if it’s a server side issue or simply a lack of any player base, but I was unable to compete with other players online, which is how you level up your rank and obtain the unlockables.

So how fun is a multiplayer only game where the multiplayer doesn’t work? Not very. So I had to play split screen and make custom games (which do not award experience points). You’re able to add dummy bots to your game, but there’s no way to change their AI, so I populated my match with 7 other AI and began, only to become even more disappointed. Even though you're able to add dummy AI into my game, but they aren’t actually AI, as they literally just sit there and do nothing. Granted, this was an easy way to farm some achievements, like kill a certain amount of Forms, but the fun was nowhere to be found.

Luckily I had a friend who also owned the game, so I matched up with him to give multiplayer a go. I was able to add Dummy AI in once again, but it was really just him and I trying to throw each other off the map. There were inconsistencies with lag on his end and was even a time where he wasn’t able to see me moving anywhere on the map, yet I was still able to hit him. Needless to say, after a few games of this and a 1 vs 1 in Form Ball, I’ve had my fill with Deformers.

Ready at Dawn has made an incredible game in the past, but Deformers won’t be their crowning jewel. Gameplay is incredibly basic but the content within is severely lacking with only a handful of maps and 3 very basic modes, one of which is a knockoff of a currently popular game from a completely different genre. If some new and interesting modes were added for free and the matchmaking actually worked, then I could see Deformers being a fun time waster. As it stands now though, the cuteness and squishiness of the characters isn’t enough to justify the asking price when the core premise of online multiplayer doesn’t even work properly which the gameplay revolves around.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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