Grab The Games: Aerena: Clash of Champions

Aerena is (or rather will be) a very interesting mix. At the moment it consists of quick ~10-15 minutes turn-based matches, but it has a promise of things like single player campaign to come. To be honest I am more excited by the game Aerena can be in the future, than the one it is now, but what we have now is polished and very well designed. The premise of the game starts interestingly, with alternative steampunk history full zeppelins, but then takes a turn onto the silly lane with worlds conflicts being solved by small fights on arenas (or rather aerenas). All this does not matter much, rather than being a justification for the art style used.

Choosing champions the interface looks like it will work well on a touchscreen

Two zeppelin-like ships dock on the opposite side of the arena and 3 champions from both sides step in. At the start you have only 3 champions to choose from, but later you can unlock others using in-game currency (when the game is released it is to be F2P and follow the models of Dota or Lol, but at the moment there is no real cash transactions in the game). While your champions spend most of their turns fighting the opposition's champions the goal is to destroy the enemy's ship. This can be done by using special, spell-like powers, attacking it with a champion who got close, or killing an enemy champion (which damages the ship by 2, out of usual 15, points). Actually, the damage done to the ship is the only consequence of killing a champion, on next turn another one (the same, or if there are available in the pool a different one) is brought on the board. I guess this decision makes sense in the PvP environment, as there is no steamrolling effect, and even late in the match you can turn the tide (so your enemy quitting should not happened too often). On the other hand it makes killing enemy's champions unsatisfying, there is no sense of victory when they go down.

The game does a very good job at presenting a lot of information at a glance

Movement is tile based and very well designed interface, with clearly visible move and attack range, special abilities and their effects means the game is very easy to pick up and a pleasure to play. At the moment the matches are either online or in a sort of tutorial mode against the AI. I have to say that the AI is very competent, this may be related to the chess like nature of the game, but it is very promising in terms of the aforementioned campaign (although one of the devs told me that the campaign will include fights against other players too, so it will rely 100% on the AI).

Easy to forget during the fights, but in fact they take place among the clouds.

While I enjoyed the matches a lot, they are rather brief, and unlocking new champions or special attacks requires too many of them to give a clear sense of progress, so they seem a bit like separate short games. This may be a good thing, if you are looking for a tactical challenge that does not require a lot of time investment. Personally I hope the game, when it gets new features and modes will become more involving. Still this is very promising project and it is definitely worth supporting.

Mikolaj W


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