The “back to basics” approach tends to get used quite often among the indie game circuit, typically because it allows for a simple yet engaging experience that focuses more on highlighting the gameplay, while also reminding players of the more traditional games that they grew up with. Typically, though, such an approach is reserved for first-person shooters, arcade-esque titles, and the like. Rarely do you ever see it applied to the likes of real-time strategy games, but that’s what developers Mokus have done with their new game BOID. While the end result isn’t perfect, it does indeed have that addictive quality to it that makes it worth checking out.
Set on the distant planet of Kepler 42-C, BOID is the story of the Bio Organic Infestation Drone, or rather, how it crash landed on the planet and spiced up some of the primitive life forms laying around. So now it’s up to you to control one these species (either green or red) and duke it out in a battle to claim dominance over the land. And as one of the few people near the area, it’s up to you and the help of your A.I. to study it and learn all you can about what happened. The latter only surfaces if you purchased BOID’s single-player campaign as DLC, though. And while the campaign is alright, and prepares you for the other matchups, it never really feels all that essential. The story and missions never got too engaging, and playing against the computer-controlled opponents in pre-set scenarios just didn’t feel like it had a great level of oomph to it. Luckily, the game’s meat happens to lie in the part that’s completely free: Multiplayer.
Yes, BOID is a free-to-play game, and happens to contain a nice chunk of content, spanning over thirty maps (with the ability to craft your own battlegrounds). Matches are one-on-one, and are rather quick but still quite fun, setting the stage for some exciting skirmishes. The goal is to simply destroy the enemy completely or control the map (although the latter will most likely involve the former), with each side having to command up to eight different kinds of troops, including your basic grunts, gunners, tanks, medics, et cetera.
The twist is that instead of being able to purchase new resources or set up the the types of troops you want in advance, BOID is a game all about making due with what you have. You begin with a single spawner, which reproduces basic units at a regular rate. From there, you have to send them out to conquer bases (typically occupied by neutral enemies at first) that can convert your lifeforms into specific classes, as well as the occasional special base with a spell that triggers events to be used to your advantage. It’s actually quite a unique blend of strategy games and elements found in MOBAs or online shooters, as they key to victory is capturing points and holding them down.
Managing several bases and spawners and keeping them healthy and active is the key to success, and easier said than done, with your opponent always ready to send a horde after you. So things get nice and intense as you try to calculate which classes should be deployed to where while making sure your spawners are still creating enough forces to get to the different bases in time, constantly having to maneuver around the map and survey the area, planning your moves while on the lookout for threats. Basic stuff, but still quite fun, and indeed rather challenging, with some impressive level design helping things out.
It was mentioned back there that your opponent would be sending hordes after you, and you shall be doing the same, though, for good reason. One is that BOID does tend to come off as a numbers game, where victory can go to the player who amasses the most forces of certain classes as quickly as possible. the other reason is that honestly, attempting to order around anything other than a horde can get a bit cumbersome. You can either drag and select a group of one or more units, or press a button to select all units of a certain class, but thanks to sprites that constantly move around and the huge amount of units that can quickly spawn into a huge crowd, attempting to actually be precise in managing a specific amount of glowing soldiers gets quite tricky at times.
There are also some other things that take getting used to, such as initially getting used to how you send units into bases in such a way that they’re converted into new classes via right-clicking. Thankfully, it doesn’t take away much from the enjoyment of online battles, although again, it does feels an awful lot like things boil down to sheer overwhelming numbers more than often. Of course, this also depends on the opponent you’re up against, and matchmaking could stand to fine-tuned just slightly, but things always remain enjoyably simple while providing the opportunity for a good level of strategy.
Speaking of simple (again), the graphics and music do their job quite well, if not exactly too dazzling. The watery colors and murky backgrounds and scenery are well-crafted, and provide the perfect area for the brightly-lit units to stand out in, each with their own distinctive look and shape. The music is much more low-key, making sure that you never wind up distracted, providing a nicely-done ambient tone.
BOID is a simple and easy-to-play game that also finds ways to suck you in for lengthy periods of time. While some of its aspects when it comes to controlling things could use a bit more polish, the simple-yet-challenging gameplay can easily captivate you, finding yourself in for a meaty round of quick matches. While the single-player DLC isn’t vital, BOID does stand out as a free-to-play multiplayer game of a high-level quality, so strategy fans and competitive players (among others) will find quite a bit to enjoy here. It’s a neat twist on the basics that makes for a fine RTS game indeed.