Clone Drone in the Danger Zone – (P)review – by K3W3L

Genre: Action Indie Early Access
Developer: Doborog Games
Publisher: Doborog Games
Release Date: Mar 16, 2017

This review was done based on version 0.8.1.8 of the game and is hence a reflection of the game’s state at that time.

Picture a dystopian future where the machines that humans have built have finally gone sentient and enslaved humanity. I think James Hetfield of Metallica has that part covered:

“Long live machine, the future supreme // Man overthrown, spit out the bone”

Now imagine further that the human mind has been removed from their body, and then implanted into a robot, built to fight with laser swords against other robots…wait what?

This is the premise of Clone Drone in the Danger Zone (henceforth shortened to CDitDZ – goddamn, what a mouthful). The first Steam-launched game by Doborog Games (another mouthful! Basically a spoonerism of Robo dog – their company logo), gameplay is exactly as described above. You play with a third-person point of view so you can better observe your surroundings and your enemies.

The game pits you against a wide variety of enemies, from other sword robots, to bow-wielding robots, to hammer robots, and others. These robots come in various strengths, with some being more skilful and harder to kill. The combat is a real joy to behold – it feels very visceral (despite there being a lack of blood/gore and the graphical style being completely voxel-based).

There are about 4 main modes – Story, Endless, Twitch, and Challenges. As of this build, story only consists of 20 levels, so not much on that front. Most of your playtime will likely be in the latter 3 modes. Endless basically has you playing randomly selected levels, ascending the difficulty tiers the more levels you complete, while Twitch mode is the same, but with…you guessed it, Twitch integration. Viewers can bet on your killer using the game’s currency, bet on which tier you die in, and even spawn in additional robots for greater difficulty. You are allowed to tweak the Twitch settings to your liking, for example if you want to give your viewers more coins, or more freedom to spawn enemies in.

Although the soundtrack is incredibly sparse at this moment (I only counted one main arena song and one song in the upgrade section), it’s adequate for the mood and setting. The upgrade section, I forgot to say, is accessible after each level, and you get a solitary point to either spend towards upgrading your robot or buying a clone (extra life). The (voiced, which is a nice touch) robot commentators throughout are incredibly sarcastic, yet humourous – they want to see your own robot get destroyed and give quips that are at times side-splitting, and at times informative – especially the ones where you get an idea of what awaits you in the next level.

There are currently only 5 achievements in the game, and they are all tied to the challenge modes, where you can unlock some upgrade options for beating each one. Combined, the unfinished story mode, challenges mode, and endless mode can make this game feel somewhat limited in replayability. (There’s a level editor with in-built Steam Workshop integration which can expand that somewhat, but if you take that out…) I feel you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this game only if you are a Twitch streamer with an audience to make your life more difficult. Also, I personally found that the game at times would stutter for a fraction of a second, and these stutters, while being short and not really impacting gameplay most of the time, are very noticeable. This is in spite of the fact that I’m running in windowed mode on the lowest graphical settings!

Pros:

  • Crazy fun swordfighting combat
  • Twitch mode/Endless mode for some replayability
  • Decent soundtrack
  • Snarky, humorous robot commentators
  • Level Editor + Steam Workshop

Cons:

  • Can feel somewhat limited in replayability if you’re not a Twitch streamer
  • Occasionally stutters, even on lowest graphical quality
  • Story mode currently incomplete
  • Not really a con and I mean this in jest but…could we get a game name that isn’t a mouthful to say?

K3W3L gives Clone Drone in the Danger Zone an Early Access Drastik Measure of EA++ (signifying a game that, while not really near perfection, is still great and fun to play).

Probably a 7.0-8.0 in its current state, CDitDZ can be seen as a rather niche, yet brilliant swordfighting game. If you regularly love streaming games with Twitch integration, this would be a no-brainer to pick up for $14.99 USD on Steam; else you might want to wait until more content is added.