Holodrive, previously known as Project Tilt, was released for Steam in early 2016 in Early Access mode, by Brazillian studio BitCake Studio. Described by the creators as "Mario Kart meets Quake, in 2d", this game is a 2d run-and-gun set in an arena where players can run, fly and shoot their enemies into mixed nuts and bolts. Imagine Metal Slug, Contra, Shoot Many Robots or even Thing Thing. Now place that gameplay in a 2d arena with other players, and weapons and powerups to freely pick up and replenish as long as you stay alive. Now add a community with in-game purchases for cosmetics and different gun loadouts. Then make each player's character a robotic dummy which can be dressed up as you please. Now you have Holodrive in a nutshell, and it's great. It's still a work in progress but it's such a simple and classic concept that it'd be hard to go wrong with this game. You can purchase it on Steam now for $9.99 US.
GENRE AND GAMEPLAYThe game is a standard run-and-gun between players who can compete in free-for-alls, team deathmatches, and 'collection mode' which involves collecting resources by destroying opponents, and despositing them back at your team's base. As this game is in Early Access, it's likely that more modes will be added as development continues. Extra weapons with finite ammunition, boosts for health and the jetpack feature, and powerups can all be picked up to aid the player. They'll be needed, if the player expects to gain the upper hand! The player's default weapon, an automatic energy pistol, never runs out of ammunition. Despite the fast multiplayer action, there was no lag except in rare cases and when spawning, no dropped games, and no other glaring issues with multiplayer gameplay.
INTERFACEThe in-game interface is minimal, and there are very few buttons to memorize; effective for a fast and simple game like this. In-game notices are displayed with large block text, and should be easy for most players to read quickly. A radar informs players of where allies and enemies are when their weapons are fired, and can be a big help in avoiding an ambush. There doesn't appear to be an option to customize controls as of yet, and with so few buttons it shouldn't be too much work to add that option in the future.
When not in a game, there is an in-game lobby/hub page similar to that in Team Fortress 2, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends and Deadbreed. This hub page offers the ability to view one's achievements, cosmetic items with which to dress up their character, their list of friends for organization of games and pre-selecting a team, and the in-game store for items and boosts to experience. Again, very similar to the aformentioned list of games. This hub with features of dress-up, weapon loadouts and communication appears to be quite common to MOBAs today. This isn't a bad thing, though. After all, it works. These cosmetics and boosts can be purchased with in-game currency which is earned by leveling up, completing achievements, or engaging in microtransactions. These boosts should not be necessary for anyone, though, as they do not appear to provide any considerable advantage as of now besides boosting experience points and player level. In fact, this reviewer discourages buying their way to a higher level because it would result in being placed in games with players of higher skill levels; possibly higher than they're capable of competing against.
GRAPHICSHolodrive's 3d graphics are limited to a 2d plane of movement and the animation quality is great. The players' characters have a great range of facial expression, the cosmetic items are distinct and clean, and everything has an appealing, simple, colorful, cartoony look to it. After the clean appearance, distinct cosmetic items with nicely rendered textures and highly expressive characters, the backrounds and scenery appear rather plain. This player had no issue with slowdown or ugly, stretched textures. In fact, the simple appearances of the characters and scenery are better for a fast-paced game like this. Too many patterns on screen at once or too many colors in the background can be extremely disorienting or even cause lag for something unnecessary. There's an option to set the graphical quality between three levels, with individual options for lighting quality and particle effects. The game's resolution can be adjusted to display well on 16:9 monitors as well as on 4:3 or 8:5 monitors.
AUDIOThe sound effects are crisp, clear and correct. The shotgun's blasts, the grenade launcher's lobs and explosions, and the raygun's electrick crackling are all on point. The sound effects even fade in and out when other players come closer or farther while using their guns, providing audio cues as to how close others are, in a game. The powerups play little jingles when activated, further telling a player who's approaching and what to expect. The hub page and results screen at the end of a round share a nice techno beat to keep the spirits high and the robot hype running. There's no music while in a match besides the powerup jingles. Remember that this was written while Holodrive was in Early Access, so it's entirely possible more music will be added in a later update after other more integral features have been fleshed out, like gameplay variety and graphical settings. In the meantime, just play your favorite tunes while in a match and you'll be good to go.
SUMMARYHolodrive is only in Early Access, and it's already a solid game. The customization of graphical settings and controls could use some work so players can really optimize the game to better suit their tastes beyond cosmetics.
PROS:1. Familiar run-and-gun gameplay.
2. Easy to pick up with no steep learning curve.
3. Support for both mouse-and-keyboard and with gamepad.
4. No trolls.
5. Pleasant graphics to look at.
6. No lag, dropped games, or other common issues with multiplayer games.
8. Robots in funny hats.
9. Robots making funny faces while wearing funny hats.
10. Regular updates by developers to gameplay, system optimzation and promotional deals.
2. Controls not customizable.
3. Mild strain on CPU and RAM for something that looks so simple, likely because of seamless multiplayer action.
4. Looking really nice is going to take a lot of money (microtransactions) or a lot of time (earning currency by leveling up).