Carnage Heart is a giant robot battle-fest. Carnage Heart is also a game that is not for the faint of heart! Be prepared to WORK ... you are NOT going to figure this game out in a short amount of time.
The game plays in a turn-based fashion typical of strategy games. Between turns you deal with construction of your OKE's (Over-Kill Engines), you purchase blue-prints to constuct new items from, you assemble combat units (composed of three OKE's each), and you oversee the factories that are building your robots. On the whole, all of the above is very straight-forward and easily understood. When you have finished with all these functions, you end your turn and the OKE units that have been issued commands act upon them on the battlefield. When opposing OKE units meet ... battle ocurs. During combat, you are a passive spectator, about the only thing you can do is switch camera angles to watch the action. Why is that? Well, that is because you programmed your OKE's when you designed them, and now they will follow the orders you issued. Your OKE's will live, or die, on the strength of their programming.
And programming is the MAJOR element of Carnage Heart. Each OKE has a CPU. The CPU is a grid of slots that you drop "chips" into. Each chip dictates an action for your OKE to take; move, fire weapon, jump, search. There are 40 chips that can be arranged on the CPU as a flow-chart. It is this flow-chart that drives the OKE in combat. Some chips allow for a TRUE or FALSE responce, like the SEARCH chips. If a condition is TRUE, the OKE executes a command. If the condition is FALSE, the OKE will take another action. Here is a VERY basic example of an attempt I made at programming an OKE:
1: SEARCH for ENEMY in 30 meter range -if TRUE, GRAPPLE enemy unit -if FALSE, go to 2 2: SEARCH for ENEMY in 100 meter range -if TRUE, fire MAIN GUNS at enemy -if FALSE, move forward, go to 1
Looks easy, doesn't it? Well, I will tell you this, my OKE's found the enemy alright, and they opened fire ... but my OKE's did NOT check if there were any friendly units between them and the enemy! Yes, it was a disaster, my OKE's killed each other.
The arrangement of chips on the CPU is the key to the game. You win this game not in the combat stages, but in the development stages. If you build a bad CPU, your toast. If you build a strong CPU, then your units will defeat your enemies.
There is no way I can do total justice to this game in a review. I can only give to you readers an idea of what you can expect. I am fairly certain that you can spend hours just programming a CPU and testing/tweaking/debugging it. My very first CPU design turned out to be a deadly loop ... for my OKE's. They stood there while the enemy bashed them from long distance. I scrapped that entire production line.
If you discourage easily, stay away from this game, it has no INSTANT GRATIFICATION quailities. If you are a programmer, or you think flow-charts are fun, then this is the game for you. Still, I do recommend you rent it first before you buy. For a lot of us, this game is TOO MUCH LIKE WORK!
Screenshots taken from Game Informer Online.