STAFF REVIEW of Clone Drone in the Danger Zone (Xbox One)

Friday, August 6, 2021.
by Adam Dileva

Clone Drone in the Danger Zone Box art Originally a simple prototype by Doborog Games, Clone Drone in the Danger Zone went into Early Access way back in 2017 on Steam. Since then it has garnered a following for its addictive gameplay and hilarity with many updates along the way. Four years later it’s finally set for its full launch on PC, but it is also releasing alongside consoles for us Xbox fans to enjoy as well.

Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is an interesting mix of slice-em-up roguelike gameplay, robot voxel graphics and tons of humor throughout. I got a very For Honor/Chivalry II vibe from its gameplay, though with a completely different objective and aesthetic. Because of the voxel design, you can actually parts of your body removed, so if you lose a leg or an arm, it’s going to be much harder for you to survive and win. There’s not many things cooler than wielding a flaming laser sword that’s on fire or taking down a massive robot dinosaur though, both of which Clone Drone in the Danger Zone has.

Given that the bulk of Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is an arena brawler, there’s not much of a campaign here. Yes there’s some semblance of a story for those that only plan to play single player, but it’s definitely not the emphasis here. Essentially, humans are slaves to the robot overlords and have had their minds uploaded into robot bodies so that they can fight for the robots' amusement. If you die, no problem, there’s plenty more human minds to go around and be uploaded, hence where the Clone Drone title comes into play.

Not only will you have to entertain the onlookers of robots in your shiny new machine body, but you’ll have two robot announcers commentating on everything you do for the audience. This commentator duo is aptly named Commentatron and Analysis-Bot who just happen to have over 38,000 spoken words of dialogue. This duo is absolutely hilarious and is the majority of the reason I wanted to continue playing, even after the repetitiveness crept in. Spoken in your typical text-to-voice monotone speech, they will berate your failures along the way, make fun of humankind and even drop a few terrible dad jokes along the way. This comedic duo truly makes Clone Drone in the Danger Zone have some heart even though they are robots without one.

An arena game at its core, you’re essentially stuck in a room with a bunch of enemies until either they all die or you do. Once you’re dead it’s Game Over and you start from the beginning, which is where the roguelike comes into play. Waves of enemies will become progressively more challenging, either with their attacks, weapons or sheer number. And yes, you will come across massive bosses, like the Spidertron 5000, so you’ll need to learn how to not only fight, but dash out of the way and block certain attacks and projectiles. Of course Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is light hearted and doesn’t take itself seriously, so you can feel free to use emotes whenever you like as well.

There’s a handful of different modes if you plan on playing solo, offering a decent variety based on your tastes. Story Mode has a small narrative that is about human defiance, so good luck staying alive longer than the last contestant, the one before that, and of course the many before that. Endless mode is just that, as it challenges you to last as long you can survive, going up the ranks and finding the gameplay more challenging the longer you live. Lastly is Challenge Mode, where you’re given specific objectives or restrictions and need to see if you can complete them, like only using a Bow or Hammer. These are quite difficult if you’ve become accustomed to a specific weapon, but is also a great way to learn and practice with the Spear or other ones you might have initially avoided.

Voxel dismemberment isn’t just a catchy tagline to describe the gameplay, it’s actually something you’ll rely on in combat. Yeah it’s cool to completely cut off another robot’s arm or leg, but it will actually affect their ability to swing their weapon or maneuver quickly. However, the same goes for you. Lose a leg and you’ll be hopping on one foot, most likely about to meet your demise by another robot that can dash quickly. The same goes for arms, where you’re going to be at a massive disadvantage if you lose a limb.

Combat in Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is very much a jousting match. Go in too early and swing and you’re left open for an attack. Run out of energy and you won’t be able to shoot your bow or dash out of the way. This cat and mouse combat takes a little getting used to but will eventually become second nature. With a handful of different weapons you’ll also be able to choose how you want to play, wielding a slow but wide sweeping and high damage hammer, or shooting from afar with a bow and arrow that takes much more skill and timing. You can even get a kick ability that knocks your enemies off platforms and into traps. Once you take a fatal blow though, that’s it, your run is over. This usually happens with a decapitation, losing both legs or simply taking enough damage overall.

Between each successful wave you survive you’ll head back into the basement as the robots setup the next arena to try and stop you. This is where you earn one skill point for each wave you survive, allowing you to upgrade your robot as you see fit. Want to boost your laser sword with fire damage? Go ahead. Want to use a Hammer or Spear? Sure. Want to have a Jetpack, more Armor or extra lives? Spend your upgrade points freely to suit your playstyle. There’s not a huge skill tree, but each wave you survive means you get to become more well rounded and dangerous.

While you could play Clone Drone in the Danger Zone completely single player by yourself, the online modes make it much more of an entertaining experience, as who wouldn’t want to mangle other human players online for supremacy? Online Co-op allows you to team up against the waves of robots together to try and survive the Arena. Private Duels allow you to challenge a friend or foe in 1v1 battles to the death, but the real bread and butter of Clone Drone in the Danger Zone is in its Last bot Standing Mode.

This is your typical Battle Royale mode where 15 players face off in a shrinking map until there’s only one winner robot remaining. With crossplay enabled you’ll have no problem finding a match in a matter of seconds, so even when you lose you can quickly jump into another match if you don’t mind facing off against PC and other console players. In the warmup lobby you’ll see how many wins each player has above their heads so you know who to avoid which also showcases how poor the matchmaking is, as you’re going to lose quite a lot of Last Bot Standing matches before you likely get a win since you’ll be matched with very experienced players.

While graphics in games like this don’t generally matter, the voxel aesthetic works for its premise and silliness, but the real standout is the commentary by the announcers. Seriously, more than a few times I laughed out loud and the hilarity never got old. Unless you care about the online Last Bot Standing mode I’d question its longevity and the $26.99 CAD asking price. That said, Clone Drone in the Danger Zone will make you laugh on a number of occasions and can be fun to simply jump in for a few matches here and there.

**Clone Drone in the Danger Zone was provided by the publisher and reviewed on the Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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