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Battery Jam Early Access Review

Battery Jam is a simple, fun, competitive Early Access title, where you capture territory and combat your opponents. The goal is to capture more tiles than other players, but this is made more difficult by hazards and player abilities. The title requires at least two (and up to four) local players for different play modes.

When you run over an unclaimed tile, you claim that tile. However, if the tile is already claimed, then the only way to claim it is to kill another player on or next to the tile. This forces players to battle each other over territory, rather than run amok as fast as they can over as many tiles as they can.

Player modes

Battery Jam has two modes: verses and teams. You can play against each other or together as two two-player teams. Colors dictate what team you are on, but you can pick any robot to play with. You can also choose which team you are on, so you don’t have to worry about being randomly assigned teams.

While you can technically play Battery Jam in a single-player mode, there's no point. Battery Jam doesn’t have any AI bots that you can compete against, so you simply run around the arena by yourself, claiming all the tiles. You can’t lose, but winning is pretty anticlimactic. I discovered this by accidentally starting the round before my husband could join.

Simple graphics that aren’t distracting

Battery Jam has simple graphics and the arena uses square tiles. You can pick your team (or solo) color and one of four robots for your character. The colors for the robots and tiles are bright, so it’s easy to distinguish them during the mayhem of a battle. The only time colors may be confusing is when lava is spread out around the map, as the red can be easily mistaken for orange or yellow if you aren’t paying attention.

There are some hazards or blockades placed around the map, but the placement and number of blockades depends on what map you choose to battle in. There is a map with no hazards or blockades, so if you prefer a clean slate to fight on, the option is available for you. The blockades also have simple graphics, so they are easy to see and stand out enough that they aren’t too confusing on a colorful map that changes constantly.

Controller issues

Battery Jam requires multiple gamepads or controllers to work properly, due to its local multiplayer format. Controller connection problems are uncommon when my husband and I play multiplayer Steam titles, but we had problems with this one. We tested Battery Jam on an Xbox 360 controller, three Steam controllers, and a wired Logitech controller. The Xbox 360 controller worked the best and never had connection issues. When playing with three Steam controllers, we had numerous connection errors that required restarting Battery Jam, Steam, and exiting full-screen mode a lot. Our wired Logitech controller wasn’t supported and never worked with the title.

We found that Battery Jam worked best when we didn’t play it in full-screen mode. However, we did not test it on a Steam Link. We only played it from a computer/HDMI cord set up to the TV.

Combat and player abilities enhance strategy and combat experience

Combat is a wild and fun experience. Your main ability is to shoot other players, which stuns them. They die after you shoot them several times, earning you the tile they're standing on, as well as the tiles in a square around them. You can also shoot blocks on the map into other players, which will push them into a wall or second-tier block and explode, killing them instantly.

Second-tier blocks are blocks that players raise one level. This ability allows you to plan strategically when shooting blocks into each other — for example, using it to block off tiles you’ve claimed. You can even send opponents flying off the map with this ability, but the coordination is tricky and requires some luck; your opponent must move onto the tile immediately after you raise it.

Another ability replaces tile with lava wherever it's placed. If you place it on an opponent's claimed tile, it reduces their number of claimed tiles. But lava can be reversed with the dash ability, which converts it back into a claimed tile of the player who activates it. You have to be careful, though, because if you run in the lava without your dash to protect you, you die.

These different abilities provide multiple ways to strategize and battle your opponents. Personally, I like dropping lava across the map and reclaiming those tiles as my own. My husband prefers shooting blocks into players to kill them. Some friends we invited over to test four-player modes liked using the ability to raise blocks for walls and launching opponents off the map. That we all found different strategies to enjoy shows the versatility of this title.

7

The Verdict: Great

If you're looking for a quick, local multiplayer title for fun combat and arena domination, Battery Jam is a great option. It’s simple, fun, and can be played in short periods of time. As long as you have controllers that are compatible with Battery Jam, it runs smoothly, without glitches.

Cherise Papa
Written by
February 21, 2018
Published in Action

Cherise Papa is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for writing novels and playing games. With a thirst for lore and massive damage, she heals raids, conquers civilizations, smashes things with two-handed weapons, tames dinosaurs, and eats other snakes. Accompanied by her husband and gamer toddlers, she explores new worlds and logs too many hours on Steam. Her gaming drink of choice is rich hot chocolate with peppermint candy canes, mint chocolate chip ice cream, or handfuls of marshmallows. 

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