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Time Deformed: 2 hours
It’s the perfect distillation of online multiplayer: It’s fast, pretty and only fun if you have teenage reflexes.
In order to enjoy online multiplayer, a person must enjoy losing. My problem is that I don’t. I play games to win them. Sometimes I like a challenge, and sometimes I like a cakewalk, but I always want to win. I lose enough in my real life; I don’t see the point in being a doormat in my fantasy worlds as well. It’d be like asking Scarlett Johannson to your senior prom and daydreaming about her not even answering your letter.
No, I like winning. The problem is that winning against other people requires a lot of practice, during which time I have to spend a lot of time losing, and the cost-benefit ratio is all kinds of unbalanced there. I can spend 10,000 hours losing in order to spend a few hours winning? And on top of that I could have been spending 10,000 hours doing something I enjoyed? Where do I sign up?
Sign up to not do that, I mean. (BUUURRRRNN!)
I was hoping to avoid some of that aggravation by getting into Deformers early. My theory was that getting in on a new multiplayer game prior to release week (I was in the open beta) would allow me to have a few hours of advantage over the other people who bought on release day.
At first, I was worried that I’d have to admit to simply being bad at video games. In my first hour with Deformers I scored a total of nineteen kills, and about 64 deaths. The other players (of which there were two in the entire world, so not so much with the popularity, this one) were zipping around the levels, killing me and each other with wild abandon. I, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to draw a bead on anybody with the shooting attack, and mostly just shot past the other players on my way to terminal-velocity oblivion with the dash attack. No matter what class I played, no matter whether I used a controller or mouse and keyboard, I was immediately outclassed by the only two people in the world who were playing this game.
What hurt even more is that I was in second place for my first two bouts, but the person at the bottom of the pack got shockingly better at the game over the course of an hour, while I seemed to get steadily worse.
Fortunately, I tried again a bit later and was able to get into a few matches with people who did not play as though they were the people who actually made the game. My win-loss ratio was much more acceptable at that point.
Which makes me happy, because I wanted to like Deformers. It’s got an interesting hook to it in the squishy, rolling protagonists that look and act like sturdy water balloons with guns. It controls well, and the graphics are appropriately cartoony. It only has three modes of play, but they’re good modes. Aside from deathmatch and team deathmatch, there’s a soccer-esque mode that was super fun in a Rocket League sort of way. The game also makes it easy to set up private, custom matches that I’d love to test, except nobody on my friends list owns the game.
On the whole, I’m torn about what opinion to give you of this game. On the one hand, it's hard to recommend at its current price because it's just too hard to find a match. On the other hand, once you're in a match it can be a lot of fun, and if I don’t recommend it to you none of you will buy it, which would tend to exacerbate the player-population problem. Regardless, my powers of persuasion are probably not sufficient to get you to pony up thirty bucks in the hopes that enough of us will band together to get some decent matches going.
I think, then, I’ll just ask you all to give the game a look and hope for the best. I didn’t pay for it, and I can’t ask anybody else to with the current player base, which as far as I can tell consists of nine people, and two of them might be from Ready At Dawn, which made this game.
Two hours down, 9,998 to go?
I will continue to peek in on this game. Maybe I can find some other matches against people at different times of day. At the very least, there’s a character-creation screen that my kids will enjoy. I just wish you could set up single-player matches against stationary bots to grind out the in-game currency to buy cosmetic items and new characters, because the only other option is to pay real money.
Is it the Dark Souls of online multiplayer?
I think, technically, Dark Souls is the Dark Souls of online multiplayer. That being said, Deformers tries to be pretty friendly to new players. There’s a link to the player guide right in the main menu, voice chat is set to Always Off by default, and there’s even a button right on the controller to invert the Y axis in case you forgot to do it from the menu before you joined a lobby.
In terms of play difficulty, I’d say it ranks up there with the Dark Souls games in a way, if only because it’s virtually impossible to actually find a match to play – which speaks to another problem of mine: I tend to like outside-the-zeitgeist stuff, and you can’t play an outside-the-zeitgeist multiplayer game, because by nature of being outside-the-zeitgeist it won’t have enough players to actually play. Maybe the universe is telling me to stay away from multiplayer after all.
Finally, I just want to say zeitgeist once more, because it’s fun to sound all smart and German.