The successor to the successful minimalist turn-based shooter Frozen Synapse, this simultaneous-turn-based romp comes to you from British developer Mode 7 Games. It’s essentially regular ol’ football on a randomly generated playfield, with a little more neon and more emphasis on strategic thinking than muscular brawn.
That said, Early Access brings features which turn Frozen Endzone more into a brutal sport than its primarily tactical beta that launched in December.
Stats have been added, which influences players’ speed, area or intercept and ability to block. An easy, visual pitch editor allows players to make their own scenarios easily, in addition to a granular custom game editor.
“The game is pretty stable right now, although there are some rare crashes. Gameplay is in a good state and is almost entirely bug-free, but you will notice occasional visual glitches and minor issues,” the developer writes on the game’s Early Access page. “Some secondary elements, like the playfield editor, are at a bit of an earlier stage than the rest of the game.”
Also in the Early Access build is an AI commentator — something you don’t often see in indie titles, reserved for the yearly FIFAs and Maddens. “It’s pretty amazing to see the game criticize your defensive movement or tell you that a pass is risky,” said developer Paul Taylor in a recent Reddit AMA.
In the future, Mode 7 hopes to bring customizable armor and stadiums into the game in addition to a lengthy single-player campaign, featuring all the drama and politics of the life of a robo-athlete. The studio is aiming for a late 2014 release, having already run a successful beta.
“Early Access gives you access to a huge audience and I really feel like you should respect that,” said Taylor, citing developers which put games on Early Access far too early in development. “It’s a massively important tool now, and I do wish some developers would take it a bit more seriously.”
Mode 7 is an independent developer based in Oxford, UK. A team of two, the studio was founded to produce a variety of client work — including work for the BBC — in 2005. Frozen Synapse, the studio’s 2011 simulatenous-turn-based game, found success on PC and has since been ported to iPad.
Frozen Endzone is available for $24.99 on PC, Mac and Linux.