Developed by Ready at Dawn and published by GameTrust, Deformers is a multiplayer brawler that puts the player in control of deformers (because they’re squishy!) that need to body slam the life out of one another. The gameplay is addictive, and the customization options and small moments of humor keep the player from getting bored. However, Deformers’ lack of game modes and online connectivity issues keep it from being the gem it could be.
Deformers offers no type of tutorial other than a screen that describes what every button does, which works out fine. Although jumping into the game is confusing for a few minutes, the learning curve for the three different game modes is not all that steep. Players get the choice between Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Form-ball.
Team Deathmatch is the most fun by far, pitting two teams of four in one of Deformers’ dozen arenas. Players on each team then need to quickly roll around the map, finding opponents to slam in to (or shoot) in an attempt to knock a member of the opposing team’s health bar to zero, or their body over the ledge.
Items are scattered about that can be picked up and thrown at opponents and power-ups keep things interesting and every player on their toes. Matches are divided into three 2-minute rounds, and the team with the higher score at the end of all three rounds is the winner. Deathmatch is the same thing but a free-for-all, and Form-ball is just a slower Rocket League.
In fact, Deformers is a lot like Rocket League. On paper, the idea behind the game seems silly and almost childish. In actuality, the game’s mechanics and physics allow for some truly impressive feats and opportunities for teammates to pull off amazing plays. In one of my earliest matches, I was knocked off the ledge of the arena. I tried recovering but failed to get enough height to reach the ledge. One of my teammates, noticing my plight, quickly jumped down, picked me up, and threw me back onto the map.
My recovery took one of our opponents by surprise so I was able to throw them off the map and my partner used them to recover. The whole thing happened in a matter of seconds, without my teammate or I even communicating to one another. I had no idea such a feat was even possible until it happened. Deformers is full of epic moments like this, and I feel like I learn something new about the game and how its mechanics work every other match.
It certainly helps that the matches are so short. I feel more inclined to try new things, confident in the knowledge that, if I fail, I will not have long to wait before the round ends.
Deformers makes good on small moments of humor as well. The little blobs that the player controls are goofy enough on their own, but Ready at Dawn went the extra mile and sprinkled puns, quips, and sarcastic bouts of sass throughout their game. I take a great deal of sadistic pleasure from playing as Mel, a watermelon who is described as always smiling. Since someone has taken a pretty big slice out of him, it really does look like he is smiling all the time. However, his eyes will express anger, sadness, or pain depending on the situation he is in. You would never know just looking at him though, since the guy is always smiling (even through the tears when a large stack of pancakes and fat hamster beat him up). I customized his appearance and gave him “deal with it” glasses in an attempt to hide his eyes so I would stop laughing at his plight, but doing so only made him funnier to look at.
Form Your Own Way
The customization in Deformers could be better, but the options the game gives you are fairly good. Players have about two-dozen different blobs to choose from. They can then be customized with different pairs of sunglasses, backpacks, and hairstyles. Currency to buy new characters and the items to customize them with are earned between rounds or when players rank up.
Microtransactions do exist for the impatient player, but any of the characters or items in Deformers can be unlocked with just an hour or two of play. I have not yet felt the need to drop real money in order to unlock things faster, and I do not foresee that ever being the case. All of the characters perform the same way and the pieces of clothing you can dress them up in do not add or detract from play, so players do not have to worry about others purchasing success.
Another form of customization appears when players actually start playing. Between each round, players can choose the deformer they wish to play as and then choose the class they wish to play as for that round. Changing classes between each round means that players can switch up their play-style on the fly, or ensure they are always moving in the way most ideal to their particular play-style.
There are five classes: Ranger, Striker, Guardian, Marksman, and Speedster. Rangers are completely balanced. Strikers are slightly bigger than Rangers and have a stronger ram attack, but they fall short at shooting distant targets. Guardians are the largest class of all, meaning they have the most health, but they are very slow. They can damage other deformers by blocking their attacks. Marksmen are the opposite of Strikers: smaller than the Ranger with a weak ram attack, but capable of dealing massive damage by shooting a barrage of pellets at distant enemies. Speedsters are exactly what you would think: small and brittle fighters, with incredible speed. Any deformer can be any class.
The only time Deformers falls short in customization is when playing couch co-op. Even if all four players are playing with different accounts, only the party leader can customize their deformers. The other players have no opportunity to spend the cash they earn on new deformers or customization items without exiting the party first. They can pick from the deformers they customized prior to joining a party, but that is about it. It is only a problem when playing couch co-op though.
A Deformed Mess
Sadly, Deformers’ issues do not end there. They actually get much, much worse — most notable of all is the game’s lobby connection issues. This review is actually coming out so late from the game’s release because I have been struggling to actually play the game on some days. If the servers are not lagging and booting players for slow connection speeds, then they are down for maintenance. It can be a real drag.
I could not even show two of my friends the game this past weekend because the servers just crashed halfway through our second game and they never came back on. It is really disappointing because Deformers was supposed to come out over a month ago, but it was delayed twice for further beta testing. The developers obviously knew there were problems with their game. I cannot understand why they would not have fixed these issues prior to launch.
Aside from that, the game just feels half-baked. There are only three game types and two of them are technically the same thing. The third, Form-ball, is not fun. It lacks the speed and ferocity of something like Rocket League. The large arena that Form-ball is played in also means you end up with a game where it is practically impossible to pass the ball or set up teammates for plays.
Being able to pick up the ball, as opposed to only being able to ram it, also seems to take away the challenge of playing a game where players normally cannot rely on their hands. Deformers has a decent physics engine as well, so it is all the more surprising Form-ball is designed in a way that players do not have to learn how to adapt the deformers’ funky movements to real world physics.
I think I would not mind Form-ball if Deformers just had more game types. As is, I am only playing the two deathmatch modes and that can get boring after awhile. Capture the Flag and King of the Hill would have been fun modes to add.
It is a damn shame that Deformers’ first few days of launch have had so many online lobby disconnection issues, because there is a great game here. Though simplistic, the gameplay is abnormally addictive, and the subtle sarcasm and devilish wit hidden behind the adorable cast of squishy blobs makes for more than a few laughs. Its quick, explosive rounds will remind you of why we all loved watching and playing Beyblades as a kid, and have you calling up three friends for some heated couch co-op.
I doubt Deformers will breed a large enough player-base to give the game the lasting popularity of something like Rocket League, but I foresee a small, tight-knit community (similar to the one that played Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars) springing up around it.