There is a good kind of radical and a bad kind of radical. On one end of the definition spectrum we have some extremism and other distasteful things, but on the other we have kickflips and sweet guitar solos. Auto Age: Standoff with its guns and cars and guns-attached-to-cars firmly sits as an example of the good kind of radical.
Auto Age: Standoff
Developer: Phantom Compass
MonsterVine was supplied with Steam code for review
Auto Age: Standoff is an aesthetic mash-up of cartoons and games from the 80s into an arena-style, vehicular fight to the death. So authentic and true to form is this homage that I had to look up to see if Auto Age wasn’t an actual franchise pulled out of 80s obscurity. There’s a framing plot that amps up the cheese into the stratosphere, with ex-arena fighter Val Vega being pitted against the Shredder/Skeletor love-child Dark Jaw. The music and sound design in particular support this retro shtick, wailing guitars and a heavy amount of synth make up most of the songs which were catchy enough to have me humming them days later. With sound design it’s often the little things, the attention to detail that catches you, like the modem dial-up whining as you search for a game to join.
The cars handle beautifully, the tight arcade style controls quickly have you feeling like the badass destruction derby hero you always knew you were. It takes moments before you’re able to pull off quick little hand break turns to fire off missiles at your enemies, or launch your car into the air for some sweet vehicular acrobatics.
However this is where the positive elements of the game come to a screeching halt (I hate myself for that car pun, don’t worry). You have load-outs where you balance various levels of weapons and firepower against defences before heading into the game – a fairly interesting system but it entirely takes the place of power-ups found in the map itself. Using the incredible mobility you’re given feels pointless if the map is empty of anything but health pick-ups. It really feels as if a staple of the genre is missing and the effect is fairly jarring.
Some of the drawbacks are a fault not necessarily of the game but the genre. An indie game is so very rarely going to support a concurrent audience for a primarily multiplayer game. So you’re left with hoping your friends get it too, or maybe throwing it on split-screen when a pal comes over.
Overall, I wanted to like Auto Age: Standoff more. There is a clear amount of love and attention to the aesthetic, not to mention the feel of rolling around in the cars is pure fun. However the lack of depth doesn’t sit well with the $20 price tag.
The Final Word
Auto Age looks amazing and is fun for a spin but just doesn’t have enough under the hood, like a muscle car with a 2-stroke engine. Look out for developer Phantom Compass and what they do next, though, they have real talent.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 3 out of 5 – Average