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Preview: Mecha Mayhem – A Step in the Right Direction

The early beta is shaky in parts but shows some good ideas.

If there’s one thing to spark gamer’s interest in an upcoming title then mechs are going to be high up on that list. Donning massive, almost indestructible, battle suits of destruction and going headlong into a warzone armed to the teeth with an assortment of weaponry, what’s not to like. Looking to make a name for itself in this field is Super Lab, which has just released a beta version of Mecha Mayhem for HTC Vive.

It can be difficult gauging how far through development a beta is, whether a studio just wants to give players a sample of what’s to come or that this is the core experience and some extra polish and tweaks are all that’s needed. With Mecha Mayhem it certainly seems to be a very early showcase, as while certain parts show promise, overall it’s still very shaky and lacks fluidity.

What’s on offer at present is a wave shooter, with the videogame dropping you straight into the first round without a hint of what to do – Super Lab has released a movement/controls video so check that out – seating you inside a big mech with several enemies already advancing. The controls are essentially like a tanks, with two joysticks representing the controllers – weirdly, the in game hands don’t actually grab the joysticks. It’s then a case of pushing both forward to move forward and the same for the other directions, whilst turning is handled by moving one stick forward and the other backwards depending on which way you wish to turn.

That sounds fine on paper, the trouble is in practice it’s horribly temperamental at the moment. Walking forwards is fine but trying to strafe just doesn’t feel like it can help you in battle. Whilst turning on the spot seems to be more down to luck than anything else. What’s good is the comfort level. Being a two legged mech it’s easy to notice the cockpit slightly bobbing up and down when walking, adding to the immersion whilst making what is basically FPS movement controls nausea free (or reduced at least).

Movement is a bit hit and miss so what about the weapons. At present there only seemed to be arm mounted machine guns available. These are controlled completely by head movement, so just look where you want to shoot. There wasn’t an aiming reticule so taking out aerial units proved to be slightly trickier than ground-based enemies; a standard infantry trooper, a light tank and a heavy tank, with the latter being the only major opposition.

Mecha Mayhem screenshot 1

Just like other mech-based games such as Archangel, firefights tend to be a war of attrition. Enemies come charging towards you guns blazing with all the tactical skills of a rock. Winning comes down to spotting and taking them out first and as quickly as possible – not always easy when wrestling with the controls.

Mecha Mayhem still needs plenty of work before it should even be considered for an early access release. Super Lab’s ideas are sound though, presenting an interesting look at what’s to come. Certainly having a mech that has a far more mechanical feel to its controls will garner favour among players, they just need to be more accurate and solid. VRFocus will definitely be keeping a closer eye on this title as development continues.

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