Deformers, by developer Ready at Dawn Studios (The Order: 1886), is a new multiplayer battle arena game, and it could not be any farther than The Order in terms of gameplay and art direction. Players take fully customizable little blobs, called Forms, and go into battle in deathmatch and team deathmatch contests with other players in couch co-op and online. The arenas are confined areas with defined boundaries, and the goal is to shoot, squash, or knock your opponent out of the ring to gain points.
Deformers, in and of itself, is a very simple concept, and knowing that this game began as a tech demo helps make sense of it all. There’s not much here, other than four and eight person slugfests using the gelatinous creatures. As your levels go up, you can customize your forms with character personas, accessories, and the like (monsters, a cow, a shark, furry animals, etc.), but the aesthetics don’t seem to do much else other than look different onscreen. There are five classes to choose from, like Ranger, or Guardian, or Speedster, which give play buffs, but can also hamper some skills, based on the type chosen. A Guardian can take a bunch of damage, but is slow. A Speedster is fast, but has little defense. Ranger seems to be the all-around form.
There are various arenas to battle in in Deformers, including a desert, a mesa, grassy plains, and even a circus tent. Ready at Dawn has promised some post-launch DLC, so new arenas could be coming.
While in my time playing Deformers, I’ve unlocked some of the 44 different creature designs, the ones I really want seem to be behind a paywall, which means real money must be spent to acquire them. Forms level up and earn skills with XP, but its a slow grind, and experienced players will take advantage of incredible weak Forms. The goal in each match is to charge yourself up and launch your body using the trigger buttons at the other Forms to try and knock them out. If a Form takes too much damage (and you all take damage by colliding with them), then pop into a gooey mess and a quick respawn occurs. This is basically Deformers as a whole.
There is an additional game mode in Deformers, Form Ball, which drops players into a soccer game of sorts, that had a Rocket League feel to it, but with none of the polish and speed of the popular sports title. I’ve played a few games, but kept going back to the two deathmatches, as that is where the (limited) fun is here.
I can see how, if the game was populated with more like-minded players, Deformers could become a cult hit. I’m concerned about the paywall from the get go, and the lack of features, but the combat, when the arena is full of players, is insane and fast, and looks and plays great. There is a decent game here, but it all feels rushed and unfinished. It’s almost as if Ready at Dawn and publisher GameTrust decided to just release that tech demo to see what would happen. If they had more time, and maybe a bigger budget, Deformers could have been something great, something that is talked about like Rocket League still is today, years after it launched. Unfortunately, this is not that, and Deformers looks to be doomed to quickly be forgotten as gamers’ attentions are drawn elsewhere.
Deformers is available now for the PS4 and Xbox One. This review is based off a PS4 review code provided by the publisher.
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