Mayan Death Robots is described by the developers as a game that “reinvents the artillery genre (think worms) in a Mayan setting invaded by alien killing machines”. Reinventing a Worms title is nothing new, that particular groundbreaking franchise has no shortage of pretenders, imposters and hangers on but Mayan Death Robots strikes me as a lukewarm title, one that may have seemed like a good idea on paper but it hasn’t translated well into the gameplay.
The Premise of the game is simple, selecting one of ten different Robots, you must destroy the enemy Robot’s Core while protecting your own. It is often a messy task: summing up a game in one sentence, I find I usually miss things out or get selective with what I deem “important” features. In the case of Mayan Death Robots, I have had no such trouble. The game really is a simple as it sounds. Sileni Studios have overstated the uniqueness of their title, and it has not worked in their favour. Set against the backdrop of the ancient Mayan civilisation, Mayan Death Robots offers very little that is new or fresh to what is already a fairly basic template.
The artwork is nicely colourful and the different robots all have some nice touches in the graphics department however the animations are that of a flash game, one with a high standard for its ilk, but a flash game never-the-less. There are no shortage of maps available however they tend to blur together after an hour or so of play. None of the maps stand unique enough to warrant special mention and sadly none left any lasting impression.
The campaign can be played solo (against AI) or with another player locally. Each level will see you and your opponent placed on different sides of the map with your Core, and then you have to simply blow the hell out of the other player’s Core. Some levels will have modifiers such as tiny Spanish Soldiers who mill around the map in real time blasting any in their path, Mayan followers who will build siege weapons to attack the other player as well as lightning storms, rising water levels and other hazards. The combat is turn based, although both players take their turn at the same time, okay, so that doesn’t make sense. There is a countdown at the top of the screen that breaks into two segments, the first is to select what weapon or action you choose to take, and the second is the aiming, firing or completion of the action. Both players do this at the same time, I suppose it was to remove the advantage that the first player to move tends to have in these games. Instead it can become a cumbersome endeavour, especially as you get shot to bits by tiny Spaniards because that messes up your aim. Each Robot will have two unique weapons that they can choose from as well as options to jump (the only kind of movement the game will allow) and building blocks of the scenery to aid in movement and to protect your robot and its core. There are many issues in Mayan Death Robots, for instance, once you have selected your weapon, you are unable to change it before the counter ends, this means that after I picked my Rockets, I would often have the enemy choose their building blocks and block me in. As my rocket was selected there is no way to hold fire and I would inevitably take a fair amount of splash damage. It is a valid tactic when playing a game such as this but it happened all too often and really leached what fun there was from the experience. At times special weapons will become available to both players, these take a fair bit of getting used to and work on a pretty random selection basis. It does help to add to the rather slim pickings of your two weapons but are single use and, I found, often wasted.
Mayan Death Robots occasionally shakes things up by throwing a Mayan God into some levels. These enemies include giant flying snakes and Lava Monster but the pattern is the same. At some point in the level, usually after sufficient damage has been done to the enemy core, the Cores will vanish and up pops the God, both players then need to work together in order to kill the god, before returning to their original mission. These encounters added more frustration than excitement to the game. The monsters move in real time (just like the level modifiers) which allows them to take multiple actions while you wait patiently for the action clock to tick down. I admit to getting genuinely angry after selecting my Nuke grenade only to find myself pushed off the ledge I was standing on into an overhung dugout. In short: I nuked myself. Things like this happen time and time again in Mayan Death Robots and frankly, unless you are playing with your very competitive best friend, the gameplay doesn’t stand up for long.
The ten Robots that are on offer do differ in capabilities and I have to admit to enjoying playing as a newly unlocked Robot for the first few times. Each Robot has the same health but is equipped with different weapons. I favoured the Robot that allowed me to tunnel my missiles through the scenery to explode on the other side but most play styles will be accommodated somewhere in the roster.
There is no real story as such to the game, at least not one that matters in any real sense but there are many missions available to play through if you can stomach it that long. The solo experience is, in my opinion, terrible. The AI seldom misses with its shots and has no problem making last second decisions in its weapon layout in order to mess with your strategy.
The only reason to pick up Mayan Death Robots is if you have a good friend who you can play with locally. Both players can use the keyboard if needed and play against someone you can see is far superior to the AI. Mayan Death Robots is a game for a very certain type of gamer but claiming to reinvent Worms….. Sileni Studios will have to do a lot better to claim that accolade.
Mayan Death Robots just didn’t cut it for me, the gameplay is repetitive and the level design lacks any real innovation. There are ten different robots to choose from and different weapon loadouts do cater for many play styles. The turn system simply doesn’t work and adds more frustration to the title that in necessary. The lack of depth is something that is felt keenly in this title. If you are looking for an artillery game, just do the sensible thing and pick up Worms.
• Graphics – 65/100
• Audio— 26/100
• Value For Money—43/100
Overall – 43