Continuing the tradition of games with the word “Frozen” in their title being great, Mode 7 Games (makers of Frozen Synapse) has brought its simultaneous turn-based take on tactics to gridiron, and the result is Frozen Endzone - which has just entered its buy-in beta phase.
In Frozen Synapse, players would input commands for squads with guns in an urban firefight. After entering orders and both players submitting, the game would play out for five seconds. Then, the cycles repeats. The different weapons of the game and orders like crouch, aim in this direction, or wait, would allow clever players to outsmart their opponent using a battle system that never relied on die rolls.
After a couple years, the tiny indie team is back, and surprisingly for a UK-based studio, their new project is loosely based on gridiron. Substitute the players for robots, allow two forward passes, disallow any backward movement, and set the action in epic arenas in the sky, and the two are pretty much the same.
I put an embarrassing amount of hours into Synapse, and now that Endzone has finally entered beta, I’ve been giving that quite the bash as well. So much so that I managed to get to #2 globally, but narrowly missed out on that #1 spot.
Frozen Endzone is a simpler beast. It has less viable modes, and whereas Synapse relied on a 4-tier hierarchy to decide who wins a firefight (Players shooting from cover beat players without, stationary players beat moving players...), Endzone has one simple rule: stationary beats non-stationary.
There’s a lot that can be done with that. Players who get to a spot first and become stationary will block other robots attempting to enter that space - and in Frozen Endzone, being blocked means being stunned. It effectively negates the blocked robot for a few seconds, which can be enough of an opening to get that ball down into the Endzone.
The different methods of scoring provide additional strategy. Mini endzones throughout the randomly generated levels will score you three points, instead of the endzone’s normal seven. And there are bonus zones littered throughout, which give you an extra 2 points if you run through them and complete the play.
Its asynchronous nature lets you have as many games running at once as you want, and also makes it a great game to have in the background while doing some work. It also makes it incredibly addictive. I’ll be playing this right through to when they add player stats, customised faceplates and celebration animations, and more. If you end up giving it a shot, be sure to challenge Raybobo after you’ve learned the basics!
The Frozen Endzone beta is available from its website - those who buy in during the beta will get a bonus key for a friend, and Steam keys for when it appears on Valve's platform.