In Aftercharge, take on the role of either invisible robots or their invincible creators. They do have actual names, but that’s just how I’ll go referring to them. It’s easier to remember. Aftercharge is a 3v3 online skirmish that relies heavily on tactics. This isn’t a normal shooter, but an almost hide-and-seek, defend-or-attack game. If you’re a robot you will be invisible and must destroy energy extractors, which I will refer to as generators. It makes more sense and is also easy to remember. They generate a “charge” to the creators who must stop the uprising. This charge gives the creators ammo and ability energy. Robots win if they destroy all of them. The other team wins by downing all robots. There is reviving, so the strategy is picking and choosing your battles as well as using abilities to gain an upper hand. There are a few maps and five different characters per side. Your only goal is to beat the opponent. It’s all about finding the right opportunity to strike or the right reflexes to protect.
Here’s what I liked:
A different approach — This is an original idea that I have not seen anywhere else. Having to face invisible opponents is just as nerve-wracking as facing invincible ones. It’s not even really a shooter to me. It’s heavily team-based; in fact, your success relies on it completely. If you aren’t reviving your team then even the best players will fail. The more generators that are destroyed the more hectic it becomes. If you can coordinate with teammates, you’ll have a much easier time. For example, as robots, having all three of you hitting different generators at once a few times then vanishing will cause the other team to run in different directions trying to find whoever was smashing their precious energy. You can make it so that you have the generators low on health and can smash them all at once. If you leave only one left, it’s much harder because the creators will all be guarding it. As the creators, you have to think like the robots. Revive and run is what they’ll be doing so if you set up walls or other defensive countermeasures you’ll be able to stop the opponent. I would say that it’s a PVP strategy shooter. I’m not sure if that’s actually a genre, but it’s what it feels like.
I like neon — The color design is very appealing. It does, in fact, scream futuristic. Even the plant life seems to glow. The menu system and display are set up nicely. Special effects, while not anything that will knock you off your chair, work in the cartoonish atmosphere. Some of the bullets look awesome too, and shields are just the right transparency. That’s it, I just like neon themes.
Everyone has a role — One of my main addictions to any game is playing as every character and trying to become good with them. Being an avid Overwatch gamer, I know how difficult it is to keep a game balanced but still make a player feel they’re making a difference in a match. I believe Aftercharge is extremely well-balanced. The powers are not unlimited and you have to use them with care. There can be only one of each character type, so it stops what I believe could be unfair matches. You see who your team picks, and can make a decision what would best fit into that group. I don’t think anyone is overpowered or under-utilized.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Longevity — After a few matches, my first thoughts were that it felt like it could be a min-game. There is only one mode and there is no campaign. Usually, this type of multiplayer is tacked onto something beefier. An example I can think of is Bioshock 2, where it seemed tossed in. It’s fun but doesn’t seem to have any real depth besides a few customizations. There is no point allocation to acquire new or improved abilities. It is what it is, with a little bit of customization for appearance. There’s just no magic behind winning, and no let down for a loss. I feel like each match is quickly forgotten about and while there are a few cool moments, nothing seemed to be memorable. Achievements have been the only thing to keep me playing beyond the first few matches I’ve had. There are bots, but you can’t choose to play against them. Sometimes I like to just jump into the action without long wait times for other players. The only thing that kept my interest past even a couple of matches was achievements. At least those are cleverly done and it is interesting because each character has their own, which is likely to keep certain people playing.
Sound Effects — Where are the epic sounds that should accompany the visuals? Footsteps would sure make sense. The best sound in the game is punching the generator. None of the characters talk to each other. I think automatic lines from them would work great. “Over here!” or something to get the attention of your companions. When you’re a robot and downed, it sounds like elevator music – because you’re just waiting with nothing exciting going on. They do have other sounds you can buy for being downed, but why should the one we’re stuck with sound so… I’m not even sure. I just know I don’t like it, and it’s like a ringtone I’d get annoyed with very quickly. It’s a calming sound, signifying your demise as you’re being pushed near a generator protected by walls. They need a timer on being downed and some music that makes you feel like you’re running out of it. There are no other sound effects that signify the momentum of the battle.
Shooting at nothing — Each creator class has a different type of gun. None of them feel good to use. When you hit a robot, it’s like an empty emotion. You can’t see a life bar above them so you’re just guessing on what kind of damage you’re doing. When I fire at a moving object, I like feedback from either a visual standpoint or a sound-based one. I’m not getting that when gunning down the revolting robots. If I’m not hitting them, I’m standing near a generator aimlessly shooting out into the distance to keep them away or to score a random hit that makes them visible for a second. I see why they don’t include accuracy in the end game statistics page! The feeling of shooting into an empty area and actually nailing your opponent feels the same. Like I said above in sound effects, there aren’t any good ones. Hitting someone gives no real indication it’s happening. The combat doesn’t have a soul.
There’s nothing really to dislike about Aftercharge. There just isn’t much Aftercharge to like. Without a campaign and lack of in-game story, you won’t find yourself intrigued nor have the ambition to continue on. There’s supposed to be a competitive mode, which wasn’t active during the time I played. It may entice people to continue on, especially if they have friends on mics. In its current state, there just isn’t enough content to warrant return after a few hours. While I enjoyed the aesthetics and original idea of the multiplayer mode, I got bored.
Score: Limited Appeal
Aftercharge was published by and developed by Chainsawesome Games on Xbox One. It was released on January 10, 2019, for $19.99.