Mainframe Defenders is a slick, simple tactical roguelite

(Image credit: Old Byte Apps)

Sometimes you just want action points, customizable equipment, and cool robots. On this day, when I wanted those, I stumbled across Mainframe Defenders. It’s a tactical strategy game that has you command teams of four robotic soldiers to outmaneuver and defeat enemies in objective-based missions. I was at first turned off by the game’s harsh, black-and-green presentation, but the slick in-game animations quickly turned that around for me. Screenshots don’t capture how this game looks and feels in motion. Some of the best roguelikes keep it simple, presenting basic systems then giving you parts and pieces to manipulate them with—Mainframe Defenders is very much that kind of game. 

From a simple squad of four, each with a weapon and unique upgrade, I quite quickly splintered each robot into a unique role. One’s job was to heal and mop up wounded enemies quickly. One’s was to breach the way into new rooms and tank—you can knock down near any wall in the game. Another’s was to flatten big enemies with a single alpha strike. The last’s was to spray damage over time in every direction to eliminate weak targets. When I eventually failed and started over I found myself building four entirely different bots based around more generalist robots doing any job. The diversity of build options is a credit to the game.

If that sounds fun, you can get Mainframe Defenders on Steam and on for $10. 

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.