Post Apocalyptic Mayhem

Even for a 10 euro game, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is extremely meager.

By Degtyarev, Posted 07 Aug 2011

Steam sales don't just come in handy when you want to pick up a few blockbusters at budget prices; they also allow you to try out some indie games for the price of a few beers. This way, you won't feel screwed over even if the game turns out poor, something which isn't unlikely given the great variety in quality on the indie-market. It's really a win-win: if the game in question is amazing, more power to you because you were able to buy it by snubbing a bag of candy. And if the game is disappointing, you can comfort yourself with the thought that you didn't spend your life savings on it, anyway. With this logic in mind, I'm glad I didn't end up coughing up the full monty for the car combat game Post Apocalyptic Mayhem. The Belarusian developer Steel Monkeys cooked up a decently interesting premise, but the game itself fails to live up to its potential, with this underwhelming indie title falling a bit short in just about everything.

The concept of Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is fairly straightforward: drive over tracks while using weapons to destroy as many of your opponents as possible, and try to not get 'fragged' yourself. Simple as it may sound, even this premise manages to suffer from a few inherent flaws. First of all, there is no real point to the racing element of this game. The races end simply when the timer runs out, and the only advantage of being ahead of the pack is that, in case of an equal amount of kills with a competitor, you will get the advantage in the final ranking. Other than that, actually racing well is strongly disadvised, as it will merely take you further away from where the action is. And seeing as it's all about the kills, racing as well as you can will just make you end up losing the actual match. Because of this, you will often have to break and wait for the other contestants to close in on you again. It's cool that this game puts such a focus on vehicular combat, the genre being near dead as it is, but why make race tracks when actual racing is so actively discouraged? Arenas would have been much better suited for this type of gameplay, and it's incomprehensible that the designers did not realise this in the very early stages of development.

Post Apocalyptic Mayhem, PAM, Review

As annoying and bizarre as the idea of being forced to stand still on a race track to wait for your opponents may be, the actual combat is quite well done. Perhaps inspired by Mario Kart, there are four items to be picked up in numerous barrels scattered across the track, with each power-up having its own colour designated to it: a green barrel will fill up your boost meter; a blue barrel will charge up your side attack; a yellow barrel enables your frontal attack, and finally the red barrel allows you to attack the enemies behind you. Assuming you play with an Xbox controller (which you should, seeing as racing games just don't work with a keyboard), the colours of the power-ups correspond with the colours of the action buttons on the gamepad, making it very easy to memorise which button does what. What the attacks do is different with each vehicle, and some cars may be better at erradicating rival competitorsr than others, but the basic gameplay remains pretty much identical regardless of which ride you select.

That brings me to this game's biggest problem: the total lack of variation. The game mode described above is the only one available in the game, and even with the free DLC, there are only as little as four different tracks to choose from. And even then, the tracks are mostly just backdrops that don't really influence the gameplay noticeably. As befit a fair reviewer, I ventured to see as much of this game's content before judging it, and after just one and a half hours of gameplay, I've seen it all. Multiple times. Additionally, the monotony and overall shallowness of the gameplay don't warrant endless playthroughs of essentially the same thing, contrarily to some of the more successful arcade-style titles out there.

The presentation of Post Apocalyptic Mayhem doesn't exactly succeed in redeeming its shortcomings in the gameplay department. The graphics are pretty much the same as in so many other indie games: smooth-looking but undetailed environments, a slight overuse of lighting and a fairly monotonous colour scheme that appears all the more mellow due to a permanent haze that is seemingly covering it. The music perfectly reflects the gameplay in that there's only a handful of different tracks, and all of them can be described as simple, unexciting combat music that was obviously intended as some sort of aural wallpaper, seeing as you barely notice it playing most of the time.

Post Apocalyptic Mayhem, PAM, Review

So if you are, for whatever reason, interested in buying this game, my advice to you can be as short as this title's lifespan: even for a 10 euro game, Post Apocalyptic Mayhem is extremely meager. I personally got it for €2,50 during the Steam sales, and even then I wonder if it was worth it. While the actual combat can certainly be fun, this game will probably start boring you after half an hour, and unless you really have too much cash on your bank account, spending €10 on this game is a clear motion of disrespect towards your own wallet.

Jesse Dolman, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Meridian 4
Developer(s): Steel Monkeys
Genres: Vehicular Combat
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2011-03-17

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