Awesomenauts has been chugging along on the PC platform since 2012, and despite the fact that it’s an indie title, the developers have done a fantastic job supporting it. Although they hit some slight snags with the console edition in terms of parity (both in the previous generation and the current), the ability to instantly push patches over Steam has worked out well for Ronimo Games, and it remains their chief platform to this day.
Why is Awesomenauts so special? What Ronimo has done is crafted an easy to pick up MOBA that goes against the grain in all of the best ways. Rather than sport a point-and-click setup, it actually plays out more like an action platformer, similar to Mega Man—at least one character even rocks a charged shot mechanic. Featuring a more intimate affair as a 3-on-3 match, as you won’t have to keep track of too many players as you attempt to wear down enemy turrets bit by bit.
The same core MOBA principle applies in the sense that both teams need to take out towers with the help of forward-pushing NPCs, before making their way to the core and destroying it to win the game. Amidst all that chaos, players can battle each other with a variety of different abilities, all of which are wildly different and are dependent on the character. For instance, some have jump jets to help them reach higher ground, and others are bulky, yet pack a punch. The class-based MOBA system has been dominating the gaming industry in recent years, and for good reason—it allows for a certain degree of individuality with who you choose to play as.
If you’re keen on playing a stealth character who only engages when he needs to, Leon is your huckleberry. If you want to be in the fray at all times, Clunk is a good choice instead. With nearly every middle ground in between, including support and healing characters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy with Awesomenauts. That also extends to the fairly robust skill system, that provides further tweaks to characters like granting an extra jump or some more firepower for a certain ability. These aren’t just cardboard cutouts either, as said characters exude personality in every sense of the word, spouting witty one-liners and generally acting like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon.
The game is just fun to play as a whole. Matches don’t drag on for longer than they should, and firefights happen frequently with a large degree of nuance to the action. While top-end players will revel in the opportunity to theorycraft the current meta and its propensity for counterplay, casual fans will have no trouble acclimating to most of the characters on offer. The level variety is also on point, as five total arenas (and one other in a public alpha phase) help cut down on the fatigue usually experienced in MOBAs, and every one of them hosts new tactics and secrets to master.
So what is Overdrive exactly? It’s the second expansion for the series, and brings three new characters to the mix: Lux-5000, Chucho Krokk, and Professor Yoolip. The latter isn’t as strong upfront, but wields a tried and true support archetype, stunning enemies in place for his team to capitalize on, and sending out his own cute little robots to wreak havoc on turrets. Lux-5000 is actually a giant mech piloted by toddlers Jimmy and Amy, and as most mechs tend to do, boasts a slow and steady melee playstyle. I’m not a fan of the design or the bruiser approach (there’s enough of that in Awesomenauts already), but the wackiness fits tonally with the rest of the cast.
Chucho on the other hand is unlike anything else in the game right now. At any point players can ride his motorcycle, which happens to have the ability to fly through the air at will. If you so choose, he can call off his bike, which instantly morphs into a defensive unit of sorts. It’s a very unique, active playstyle that isn’t overly powerful, but very crafty in the right hands. It just goes to show that even years later the developers still have some tricks up their sleeve.
There are also a number of quality of life improvements, which, while late, are welcome. One character as a whole has been reworked visually, the matchmaking system is being overhauled, and the entire UI has gotten a makeover. It’s rare to see an indie developer support a game like this nearly four years down the line, but here we are.
The future of Awesomenauts is fairly secure, so players shouldn’t really have any qualms investing in it. If you haven’t given the game a shot yet, now is probably as good a time as ever.