When you look at the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation VR one independent developer has been consistence in their support of Sony’s various platforms. That developer is the fine folks over at Futurlab in the UK whose previous games such as Velocity 2X you may be familiar with. Two years ago they released their first PlayStation VR title Tiny Trax that had you gathered around a small race track racing slot cars. Now they are back with their follow up PlayStation VR title Mini-Mech Mayhem which is a table top experience that has you using tiny robots to battle against other players.
The basic premise of Mini-Mech Mayhem is you pick a tiny adorable little robot to use and face off on grid based tabletop maps against 1 to 3 other players. Those players can be other human players online or AI players. The goal on each map is to obtain a total of three victory points with you winning one per round. In order to get those you’ll have to defeat all of the other players or manage to stand on a special square somewhere on the grid. When you start up the game I recommend going through all of the tutorials to learn all that they teach you. Even with those the best way to learn the ins and outs of this game is with experience so after you finish them you can play against bots offline or jump into an online match. Going online gives you the option to search for open lobbies, host your own, or use the quick match option. Like a lot of VR titles I worry about how big a population this game will have or sustain but in my time playing I was able to find other players to play with.
Battles unfold with each player taking turns to set up and perform actions with three action points they are given to spend. You can play the game using either the Dualshock 4 or the PlayStation Move controllers but I recommend the Moves but only for certain reasons. The standard controller works great to me but actually interacting with the screen like in the screenshot above and planning your moves with it feels much more immersive with the motion controllers. You can also do fun littler interactions with your mech with them as well.
Back on the gameplay part, there are limitations to what you can spend those points on in a given turn. For instance you can’t spend them all on one type of action such as moving your robot or attacking. You are also limited to only moving one way per turn. To make that little more clear your first action may be to move in one direction, your second action may be to attack a certain direction, and your third action may be to move again but it has to be in a different direction than the one you traveled on your first action. This is the type of game that rewards you for coming up with good strategies but even more so for adapting on the fly. Knowing how to respond to unpredictable actions is a big part of this game. When you plan those three moves of yours you really have no idea what is going to happen with each of the other players in the meantime so both yours and the other players strategies can be altered all the time.
One of the ways that can happen is by shooting different parts on the mechs which causes different things to happen as a result. If you shoot them in the head you can push them back spots which could land them in a hazard spot on the map. If you shoot them in the legs you can mess up their movement. Or you may be about to land a finishing blow on one player but another player may do something to push that mech out of the way denying you your victory over them. Just playing round after round and seeing all the different outcomes that would occur was a great experience for me.
Another thing to be aware of are special abilities called Interceptions that are set up before each round begins. These can be things like air strikes, the ability to jam an opponents gun and so on and can be really useful at times. They can be used at any time but they require blue crystals that are on the map so you can’t like spam them or anything. They are just another thing that can alter your plan or your opponents plans and if more than one player activates one at a time then things can really start getting interesting. Overall the gameplay of Mini-Mech Mayhem is a blast to me at least when playing with real players. The offline content really doesn’t amount to much and I couldn’t recommend this game if that is all there was to it. Getting to actually feel like you are around a table with others though and chat with them and hear everyone’s reactions when unpredictable things occurred is really one of the best feelings that the VR medium has given us.
As you play and finish matches you’ll earn experience and level up allowing you to unlock new cosmetic options for your mechs along with your player avatar. There are no gameplay benefits to this but it’s nice that there are a lot of options here to customize each and make them your own. All of the robots and arenas look great in this game. Everything’s really colorful and bright making this a pleasing game to behold as you play. What I didn’t like is that there is only one map and background in the game currently. It’s not a huge deal but having something a bit different to look at after so many matches would’ve been nice. The audio in the game is good too such as the little sound effects the mechs would make as I played. As far as the trophies go there are 25 in total with most of them being able to be obtained in single player or online. Some of them require certain actions to take place so it won’t be the easiest game to Platinum.
Mini-Mech Mayhem is well worth jumping into for any fan of multiplayer table top games. It has a ton of strategy involved and will really test how you react to changes that occur on the fly. I wish it had a more compelling offline mode in case online matches become difficult to find though. So long as there are other players to play with Mini-Mech Mayhem is something you can easily lose track of time playing.
*Mini-Mech Mayhem is out now on PlayStation VR. Reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review. ThisGenGaming is an official partner of vrgamecritic.com where you can find all of our PlayStation VR reviews.
- Easy to pick up and play game with a ton of strategy at its heart
- Cute, colorful visuals with lots of customization options for your mech and avatar
- Playing online with friends and hearing reactions is a blast
- Offline content isn't worth playing this alone for
- Could use more arenas/environments