Mechajammer, a review of a role-playing game that’s tough in every way



The review of Mechajammer, a role-playing game really difficult to approach and master, full of bugs and various problems

How nice, an isometric turn-based role-playing game set in a cyberpunk open world that promises to be complex and deep and to give the player a very wide freedom of choice. What’s more, the project was made by true fans of the genre, who were able to work in complete freedom thanks to the funding received on Kickstarter. What can go wrong? To find out, just read the Mechajammer review. Make yourselves comfortable.

The atrocious suspicion

Mechajammer is a very deep game... so much so that it is unreadable

The suspicion that something is wrong is already from the tutorial, which lasts about half an hour and in all this time fails to explain well all the systems of the game. Okay, it’s not the first time this has happened. We are not newbies and we will surely compensate in some way. So we create our character, without really understanding some aspects of the editor (we’ll talk about that) and start playing. The idea is to have an interesting and multifaceted alter ego. We opt to play the game with a kind of geek who is very good at hacking, but not very versatile in combat, who in a previous life was first a data entry and then a lab assistant. Bad luck, since it is often simply not possible to avoid confrontations. The result is that we struggle enormously to overcome the first boss. Okay, let’s try again. This time we made it. What can go wrong with a heroine skilled with energy weapons in a Cyberpunk world? Everything, as we shall see.

Anyway, let’s start playing. The control system seems fairly typical to us: you click to walk and when facing enemies you press the right mouse button to attack. We can also move stealthily, ducking to take advantage of shadows or tall grass so that we’re hard to spot by enemies. Despite the apparent clarity and purported depth of it all, after a few minutes of play Mechajammer actually reveals its worst sides, leading to a divorce petition after a few hours.

Character creation

Some mechanics are obscure

The main problem with Mechajammer is that its rules system works half-heartedly and is very confusing, right from character creation, which we mentioned earlier. Meanwhile it is not clear why the advantages and disadvantages of a career should not be easily identifiable. Moreover, the disadvantages often make no sense, because they literally break the game. Let’s explain: when you create a new character, you can decide what career he or she has gone through in a certain amount of time, then you can select one of the associated disadvantages, which, theoretically, should deepen the construction of his or her character and add an extra level of complexity to the action. Too bad some of the disadvantages are so invasive that they ruin the entire experience, especially during combat.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to create a kind of soldier, very skilled with weapons … then you can give him some disadvantages, such as having butter hands or being prone to panic, which actually make it a pain to fight, because after each action our hero or risk losing the weapon, or run away (without succeeding). In fact, some careers and some disadvantages are not associated, unless you want to have an experience beyond the frustrating. True, if you want you can choose not to have any disadvantage, but in that case the creation of the character becomes an operation of a unique flatness and in fact we are asked to give up one of the most significant choices among those feasible at this stage. Besides, why put them if at some point they become counterproductive to immersion? What is the point of producing such paradoxes?

Combat system

The game world is well defined

Another huge problem of Mechajammer concerns the combat system. Basically the first part of the game you spend it facing melee enemies, armed only with knives. Everyone has bloody knives. There are no hidden weapons of any other kind, and no option to purchase them. Nothing at all. Even the first boss has to be dealt with at knifepoint, to say the least.

What is the problem in this case? Easy to understand: if you have created a character skilled with firearms, you remain for hours with the inability to use it at its best, because we are not even provided with a scacciacani. However, when you get the first firearm you realize another problem: the enemies are very fast to reach us, then to bring the fight in melee … moreover, around there is very little ammunition.

Unfortunately, this isn’t even the biggest problem, because there’s more to it than that. The whole system is extremely confusing. For example, it is possible to take targeted hits, but to do so the enemy must be adjacent to the character (at least with melee weapons). The trouble is that it is often convenient to anticipate the shots to kill someone, attacking towards a still free square where the opponent is expected to arrive. Too bad that in this way it is not possible to tell the character to aim, so bonuses and tactics go to hell.

So forget about deep systems like those of Divinity: Original Sin II or Obsidian games. Here you must first come to terms with the absurdity of certain mechanics, then you can start role-playing, but always with the feeling of not having clear something.

Control system

The confusing character sheet

Another problem is the control system, which is as anti-intuitive as it gets. Mechajammer is an isometric role-playing game based on a point and click exploration system, so why to make jumps you have to press the space bar and then give the direction with the mouse? Why not put a contextual action to overcome obstacles? Also, why when taking a vehicle do you switch to WASD controls? But it doesn’t end there: why doesn’t the interface make it clear to me what I’m doing? Do I want to break into a door? The dice roll starts whether it’s possible to do it or not, without giving a clear understanding of what and how. In the end it’s always better to smash everything, so as not to live oppressed by doubt. The same happens with hacking and other actions such as charisma, which require high values to start working.

But that’s not all… want more? Mechajammer is littered with bugs, some serious, some really serious. For example, the quicksave makes all killed enemies reappear. When it works. Or you can lose items for no reason (read that they disappear from the inventory) finding yourself in trouble, especially when they are particularly important. Still: the system takes the wrong inputs by performing actions other than those you wanted to perform.

How much we would have loved to love him

When this happens in combat, you often end up dead and buried within a couple of turns. But the bug fest doesn’t end there, because there are also interactions that block movement, menu buttons that stop working for unknown reasons and many other glitches that simply can’t be explained.

Sure, after a few hours you get used to it and some of these problems are mitigated by the experience, but should a video game really torture us beyond measure before it starts to make us play decently (and we stress decently, so not well)? The only aspect of Mechajammer that really works is the retro graphic style in pixel art, which at least seems focused and gives a good idea of a dirty and merciless way. For the rest it seems to be in front of a set of rules designed to brutalize the players as much as possible, written by someone who has misunderstood the concept of role-playing game and decided to make opaque and unreadable every action, leaving only intuition the honor of deciphering what happens on the screen.

Comment

Shame. Despite its many flaws, Mechajammer is a game full of potential. It would have been enough for the developers to think more about the players to make a small jewel, instead they preferred to choose a rougher approach, made of broken mechanics and an opaque game system, which stops the involvement in every possible way. The many beautiful ideas it contains are then overwhelmed by some meaningless design choices, a general confusion in the interaction of the various systems and a plethora of bugs that end up undermining the experience in every possible way. Of course, overcoming all the adversity something positive is found, but why so much effort when elsewhere there are games just as deep, but much more refined?

PRO

  • Visual style makes good
  • So many good ideas…
  • Good ideas didn’t materialize into a good game
  • Can it be that cyberpunk worlds must always be full of bugs?
  • Dull and confusing game system
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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