After breaking my washing machine and electric heater in two separate incidents this week, I went into Clone Drone In The Danger Zone bearing a bit of a grudge against technology. While I’d usually sit and brood in silence – perhaps paying for replacements with a particularly sulky swipe of my bank card – my time with this violently funny game reminded me that things could be much, much worse.
For example, at least my washing machine wasn’t spewing proximity mines across my kitchen. Similarly, was my electric heater trying to chop me in half with a sword? Thankfully not – although, given my time with Clone Drone In The Danger Zone, I think I’d be able to handle the situation pretty well.
In your opening moments of Clone Drone, you’ll contend with all of this and more. As the consciousness of a human – uploaded into sleek robot form – your job, at first, is to emerge victorious from a series of progressively more challenging arena trials. Between each bout of gladiatorial combat, you can choose from a slew of valuable upgrades such as a flaming sword, a jetpack, and more.
In the arena, fighting for your life involves using these upgrades to carefully dissect cyborgs while trying to avoid the same fate. It sounds grim, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Above the arena, two robotic commentators keep things light by commentating the rise (and sometimes fall) of your chrome gladiators. Armed with reams of deadpan dialogue and barbs that cut deeper than any arrow, the pundits bring heaps of life and character to a game that’s – for the most part – just about filling a scrap heap with faceless robots.
That’s not a bad thing, though. The core gameplay loop of Clone Drone In The Danger Zone thrives in keeping things simple. It’s a rollercoaster except instead of those uphill climbs you’re just constantly on an adrenaline-charged plummet downward. Driven by pounding dubstep and constant motion, the intensity of each battle belies the calculating nature behind each fight. Moving in for a kill is rarely as simple as just pressing buttons. As you charge one robot, you have mere seconds to work out where to bypass their guard, if they’ll have time to retaliate, and a hundred other tiny details. All the while, you’ve got to remain vigilant of the enemies you’ve momentarily turned your back on – many of my own frays have been cut short with an inglorious arrow to the back.
Most levels will – one way or another – give you ample room to try out new playstyles and make use of Clone Drone‘s shiny chrome tools of destruction. My own tried-and-true style involved thinning out the ranks of robots with an upgraded bow, before drawing my sword and surgically picking off the surviving foes. For all the simplicity of Clone Drone‘s premise, the variety in upgrades, weapons and enemies means it does a deft job of keeping things feeling fresh.
There’s a chance that the combat in Clone Drone would be exhausting, if it wasn’t so fiercely short. Each tussle is punctuated with a moment of much-needed peace, which is usually used to insert some amusing one-liners and sometimes even scraps of story.
On the subject of the story, I felt that while it was certainly entertaining, it falls victim to feeling a little sidelined amidst all the action. Without wanting to give too much away, space-faring robots are waging a war against humanity and harvesting their consciousnesses. These humans are then given robot bodies and set away to fight for sport, which is how you’re introduced. Exciting, right? It’s an interesting premise, and doesn’t try and stick you with too much plot when – realistically – you’re just trying to chop stuff to pieces. That being said, I get that Clone Drone In The Danger Zone is meant to feel like a pulpy action film, but I felt there are some opportunities to add a bit more worldbuilding to the universe. The backdrop of human-robot warfare is certainly interesting enough to deserve it, and I would’ve liked to learn more about how humanity ended up being murdered and harvested by a robot civilisation.
The story – like many aspects of Clone Drone In The Danger Zone – is perhaps more like The Matrix than you would expect at first glance. A human consciousness that turns its prison into a weapon to fight back against oppressors? Plunges into slow-mo? Flying kicks? If Keanu wasn’t so busy not playing Cyberpunk, I suspect he’d be making yet another appearance as a trapped human conscious.
Clone Drone In The Danger Zone is available for PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. We reviewed it on PC.
Aiming for thrills and little else, Clone Drone In The Danger Zone successfully delivers all the chaos of a pitched melee without sacrificing its calculated approach to combat. Whether you’re looking to test your skills against other players or you’re simply pining for a straight shot of adrenaline, Clone Drone In The Danger Zone is the perfect choice for anyone looking to switch off their silly human brains and spend a few hours smashing robots.
- Combat is intense, fast-paced and exacting
- There’s plenty of replayability in upgrades and weapon choice
- I’d listen to a podcast with the two robot commentators
- I had some issues with map bugs on certain levels
- The story mode could do with a touch more worldbuilding