Aftercharge is published by Chainsawesome Games and is a game in which teams of three square off in an FPS with asymmetrical goals for each team that promises unique gameplay and delivers it. Though, at a pace that might not be for everyone.
When the Aftercharge corporation decides to use energy extractors to draw Quanta energy from the planet Dusk 11 they deploy Workonics to operate the extractors. As extractors are no longer needed the workonics are shut down. Soon though, the planet began reactivating the Workonics to destroy the remaining extractors to prevent further power from being drained from the planet. In order to protect the extractors, Aftercharge deployed its loyal Enforcers to stop the workonics.
In each game of Aftercharge, players are split into two teams of three. One team plays the Enforcers. Their goal is to keep the other team, made up of Workonics, from destroying six energy extractors that are scattered around the playing field.
At first look, the Enforcers appear to be standard FPS-fare with a gun and two special abilities. But several key things keep these characters different from what you might initially expect. First, both their special abilities and their gun use up charge off of the same meter at the bottom of the screen. Having to choose whether to set up a barrier or be able to fire your gun is an interesting resource management twist not seen in most shooters. The other interesting twist is that in order to recharge the meter, Enforcers must stand close to an energy extractor. So chasing off after a Workonic as it escapes will only get you so far till you must return for ammo. This makes the Enforcers play a reactionary game as they patrol around the extractors and set up various traps or barriers to aid their defense all while trying to head off Workonics as they attempt to destroy their objective.
The Workonics are even more original for this genre of the game as they have no means of defeating the Enforcers. They have no guns, only fists that can knock back Enforcers and destroy extractors. Workonics, however, are invisible until they punch something, so they have the element of surprise. They also each have a special power that helps them either evade the Enforcers or support their teammates. They can charge their power by sharing their energy with each other.
Sharing energy does cost life which limits how much damage a Workonic can take before being disabled. Workonics can restore downed comrades if they are close enough. The Workonics use these abilities, coupled with their invisibility, to make quick attacks on the extractors, trying to deal some damage and then escape back into invisibility before the Enforcers can disable them. All these interesting twists, coupled with the limitations imposed on the Enforcers make for a surprisingly balanced and interesting game of cat and mouse.
The only place where the gameplay suffered for me was in the pacing or the speed of moment and the way a player had to carefully approach situations. This caused the game to play out at a slower pace than I would generally want from an FPS. The kinetic style of play is generally where the excitement comes from the genre, and without it, I’m not sure it works.
The aesthetic of the game lends a simplistic quirkiness to the game that is charming if a little generic. It has the look of something geared toward younger gamers and with the slower pacing and toned down levels of violence, I would say that a younger gamer is probably the perfect audience for this game as it will allow them to acclimate to controls.
The only other problem I encountered with the game was a difficulty in finding an online game to play. I let the matchmaker run for up to 10 mins a couple of times without success. Now I played this on the Xbox One and would not be shocked to find out that this game has found a more solid player base on PC where such indies thrive. However, even if you can’t find online matches during your optimum game time there is a well-executed bot mode that lets the player take part in a game with computerized allies and enemies. While not the same as playing against humans, I found them challenging enough that I wasn’t always winning these matches, nor were my allies.
Chainsawesome has already announced they will be adding two new characters at PAXEast later this week which will bring the total count to 12 and also gives strong indications that they intend to support the game going forward. In the end, Aftercharge is unique, charming, and an original sort of experience I’ve come to expect as the best aspects of the wonderful indie game scene we continue to see growing in gaming.
Aftercharge is unique, charming, and an original sort of experience I’ve come to expect as the best aspects of the wonderful indie game scene we continue to see growing in gaming.