Auto Battlers are an interesting breed of game because often players take a very passive role in the game. You watch your choices and decisions play out before your eyes without being able to interfere and course correct very often. Mechanibot has a different idea. It is an auto battler but you are the team strategist and healer – placing you on the battlefield as an active member of your team.
Mechanibot is a roguelite that sees you trying to save the sun by crossing space and time defeating waves of enemies on a single screen platform. Each wave of enemies is a small variation of a set theme so you know vaguely what you’ll get but there’ll be some differences each time. At the start of each wave in campaign mode you’ll have access to a shop. Here you can buy bots and they come in different classes and attack varieties. Rangers can attack from anywhere from the ranged class but nuclear bots have a smaller sphere of influence but sap HP quicker if you can place them in the right location. Mages can both cast magic from afar but sometimes also have multiple area of effects scattered across the map. Initial bots you get access to early in a run are level 1 bots and assign a weapon and class type. However as you progress through the game and unlock more classes, they’ll be able to count as multiple classes. For example a darker mage type might be magic and elemental. A gun turret type might be ranged and fire if it burns an enemy upon hitting. You’ll initially be able to buy 5 bots and sell/swap them out but your team can grow depending on between wave upgrades you unlock.
The class and upgrade systems are crucial for a good team. In Mechanibot, you are encouraged to double down on a heavily biased team as having multiple bots of a certain class gives additional perks. These perks improve per bot so for instance having 2 nuclear bots might improve a stat by 10% but having 4 improves it by 20%. Each bot can also be upgraded 3 – 5 levels too, improving its health, attack power and attack rate too. Once fully levelled up each bot has its own unique special move that unlocks too. This all points towards leaning into a concept and as the store is random everytime you access it, you’ll be trying all kinds of loadouts and strategies to see what works best. The crux here is that to refresh the store, it costs coins. Coins are a resource finely balanced so you make each purchase count early on and save what you can for rerolls and refreshes late game.
Once into battle your Mechanibot is always on the move. Attack patterns show as red on the floor and you’ll need to run around, pick up bots and drop them out of harms way. A magnetic pull can allow you to pick up and drop all the bots and I found this method best – especially in tight and frantic boss battles where timing is everything. Mechanibot isn’t hard as nails, you just need to take care and not leave bots dying in a hurt zone. Once broken, you can’t often repair them unless a revive spanner randomly drops so its crucial to keep them healthy. Using health spanners is your other task as even when you have healers in your party, you are the healer too. This makes for a dash around the map style gameplay to keep everyone safe and replenished whilst thinking about what to spend your coins on next. Its fun, light enough to just pick up and play but with enough variety to keep it fresh over multiple runs.
If you win or lose, you’ll have collected upgrade currency. These chips can increase bot base level stats but also unlock other crucial upgrades like wall bounce bullets or more starting cash. These help future runs and you can pre-install an upgrade from a selection of between wave ‘mods’ to help you out too. Additional bots are unlocked depending on satisfying in game achievements and these bots are all the most expensive but most versatile bots so its worth going for. Outside of the campaign mode, a faster and more frantic infinite mode is unlocked after your first win too. This removes the pause between waves and makes you shop for bots and upgrades in real time. It’s fun and injects more variety and replayability into an already great game.
I had great fun with Mechanibot. It took a few hours to finish my first run but the main story asks you to rinse and repeat to advance the narrative. For such a tiny price, there’s plenty of replayability and charm to the game. It certainly takes the auto out of the auto battler and keeps the player engaged from start to finish. Great.
Review copy provided by developer. Mechanibot is out now on Steam.
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