If you’re anything like me, you play a lot of games that require constant and fast paced input from you to achieve goals. These games are fun, they test your reflexes and your ability to think quickly and adapt to changing circumstances. As much as I enjoy these types of games, I’ll admit that at times I wish I had something that didn’t demand such a high level of concentration, something that I can sit back and just chill out while I play. That’s what we get with Gladiabots. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that this game lacks depth, in fact the opposite is true. This game offers depth and complexity that might be unexpected by a game of this genre.
Gladiabots is a strategy game developed and published by GFX47 Games. I think the best way to describe it is to use the words of the developer: “AI combat arena”. You program the AI for a team of drones, instructing them to return resources to a base node, all while staying alive and hopefully killing drones on the opposite team. On the surface, this sounds simple but in practice it gets a little more complicated. While your goals always stay the same, the conditions to achieve these goals changes, and sometimes in subtle ways. As you progress to the next level in the campaign, small changes to the way the play field is set up happen, as well as what type of drones are on the opposite team and how those drones are programed. Because of this you are forced to make changes to how you program your drones. Maybe you need to prioritize resource collection, or maybe the other team is playing a more aggressive game that requires you to adapt or else find that all your drones are destroyed.
It may seem like this is a recipe for a game that loses its fun after you figure out the perfect program for your drones but that is far from the truth. Even if you do manage to get a few standard AI’s figured out that dominate the arena, there always seems to be something you did not think of that stops your team in its tracks. On top of that, if you start to feel like playing against the computer is getting too predictable, there is a multiplayer mode to pit yourself against other people and all the cleaver that comes with playing against other people. The cool thing about the multiplayer is that both teams don’t have to be on and actually playing at the same time. This is possible because all your control of the game is done once you hit go. Just hope your AI programs are up to the task ahead because you cannot change anything once the match starts.
The version of Gladiabots I played, Alpha 14.2, was a prerelease and as such there are some problems and a few bugs, but nothing major or unexpected from an Alpha build. The graphics are clean. I wasn’t able to see any glitching despite a fair amount of animation in the drones as they walk around and fire their guns. The menu navigation leaves a little to be desired, but it’s not impossible to find what you need. Managing your AI programs can be a little confusing when trying to assign each of your drones one to use. The music isn’t the best out there but this game is not focused on the telling of an epic story, so music is not a big priority. It’s definitely the kind of game that I turn down the volume in exchange for my own background music. That being said, the main factor to keep in mind is that this is an Alpha build being released as an early access game on Steam, and as such there is more development in store.