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Bite Sized Reviews: Mechajammer
Hope everyone had a great Christmas and is enjoying themselves by being upturned turtles with food. That has been my mantra all week! So, for my final article of 2023, I decided to look into an older game. By old, I mean a couple of years ago — an ambitious title by the name of Mechajammer. Big thanks to the Modern Wolf folks for providing me with a code for review purposes, it meant a lot! Developed by Whalenought Studios, it launched in December 2021 to a mixed reception.
This cyberpunk, hardcore turn-based RPG brought considerable scope by such a small team. I remember Mechajammer’s launch and while it interested me at the time, I was so caught up with other projects that I’ve only recently tried it out. Unfortunately, sometimes games just don’t work out. That happens in any industry, and Mechajammer is one of the unlucky ones. While it brims character with some impressive visual and sound design, the launch of Mechajammer was a brutal one. I’m talking about bugs and a lot of them. While a major update last year improved some parts of the game, it has gone months without any patches, and as much as I want to like Mechajammer, it is still a bit too broken and buggy for me to recommend. It feels like the game has failed, and that happens. A damaged launch can sink studios, and it makes me sad. Still, this is a commercial product, and I prefer it if people can play the game they bought!
Missed potential is the best way to describe it because, on a surface level, Mechajammer has plenty going for it. A unique, grimdark cyberpunk world with an isometric graphical design, I loved the feeling of the game. The sound and music are great too — top marks for aesthetics. While the camera explores the world at a top-down level, you can zoom in pretty close so it becomes 3D, and the game is one of those open-ended, large spaces that offers players plenty of freedom. All of these are cool, right? And it is. Unfortunately, bugs and balance are the backbone of games, and Mechajammer — for all the pleasant bits — collapses under its weight.
For starters, the game throws players into the quagmire and goes ‘yep. You’re in this situation. Get out of it. Enjoy!’ That’s fine in most cases, I don’t mind exploring and finding my own two feet. While there is a hints menu to learn a little about the game, I found the tutorial a broken mess, even today. A third of the way through I ran into a bug where the guard I was supposed to be avoiding kept spotting me. Even though I was nowhere near him. That was frustrating.
And the bugs kept going for me even early on. There’s a cool note-taking system where you can type in reminders about the lore and world, like a detective sim. Awesome in theory, but I was trying to hack a terminal with the passcode. No matter what I tried typing, the terminal did not seem to work. As this was a vital part of the game to progress, I hit a brick wall. While I eventually was able to progress after several reloads and enjoying the smell of alcohol, this was like sitting on the toilet during an irritable bowel syndrome flare up. And then the game crashed and my save got erased. Well, damn.
Fair enough, so I went around exploring. I ran into another bug where I could not unlock a door, even when my lockpicking dice roll succeeded. I tried opening the door through every method but to no avail. I killed many rats, healed myself up by talking to the nearby mercenary doctor, and had a poke around the local neighbourhood. All the while I was thinking: “This is a damn cool world and I enjoy the base mechanics. But it does not matter much if the game refuses to work properly!”
It’s a shame. I want to like Mechajammer more. Several people have played many hours in it and it seems it offers a unique, refreshing experience. My own experience is a broken dream. I dislike more negative coverage, and I appreciate Mechajammer’s scope. Niche strategy RPGs are games I can get behind, even the janky ones. With the lack of updates, it looks unlikely that more patches are coming for Mechajammer. If this is on deep sale and you are curious about quirky cyberpunk games, perhaps I can recommend it then? Just know what you are getting into.
I’ll try Mechajammer again at some point. In the meantime, it is time for TheThousandScar to get some sleep. Happy New Year, everybody.