Volta-X Review – The Thrill of Controlling a Mech

    Title: Volta-X
    Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment
    Release Date: August 12, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment
    Genre: Real-Time Strategy/Simulation Management

Pretty much nothing is cooler than giant robots. Movies such as Transformers and Pacific Rim have taken the world by storm in recent years, but fans of anime or Japanese culture will know that giant fighting robots have been popular in the East for decades.

Over the years, gamers have enjoyed countless fighting, beat-em-up, and action titles featuring giant robots. Still, Volta-X, the newest game from GungHo Online Entertainment, takes mechanical warriors in a different direction: Strategy.

In the world of Volta-X, giant robots called Volta are the most popular thing on Earth. After being invented to save the world from a Kaiju invasion, the robots are now used for sport. When a young Volta pilot brimming with potential is given a chance to be pro, he assembles a rag-tag team with dreams of becoming the champions of the World Volta Association. Unsurprisingly, however, the team learns over time that the Kaiju threat might not be as defeated as the world once thought.

Volta-X’s story didn’t really achieve what it felt like they were going for. The entire game, interactions between characters are shoved in your face as you’re basically begged to care about what’s happening. While it had some interesting ideas, too much of the story is told instead of shown, making me want to skip story interactions more often than not.

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Though I might not be a massive fan of the story, I do love Volta-X’s art style. Similarly to the gameplay, it looks like something I’ve never really seen before. Characters look painted or sketched onto the screen, with vibrant blues and reds dominating the color palate. The Voltas themselves are 3D but still bring with them the bright colors of the crew. Even if you don’t find the story to be too engaging, chances are you’ll at least enjoy the visuals.

Rounding out the presentation is the fantastic soundtrack. Battles are backed by a high octane Jazz band, heightening the excitement of the moment to moment gameplay. While no tracks in or out of battle are particularly memorable, I was bobbing my head to the music on more than one occasion.

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I’ll give Volta-X this: it’s an incredibly unique game. I’ve probably played too many games in my lifetime, but none really come to mind when trying to think of something similar to this. Volta-X merges unique real-time strategy with base building simulation to create an experience that I won’t soon forget, for better or for worse.

Most of your time will be spent between two activities: fighting other Volta or Kaiju and managing your team’s headquarters. These two activities work in tandem with and profoundly affect each other.

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Headquarters is a simulation-management mode where you build a base for your team to live and work in. The headquarters consists of a plethora of rooms such as mess halls, barracks, mechanical shops, movie theaters, generators, and more.

Each of these rooms serves a different purpose, from keeping the crew happy and healthy to developing new weapons for use on your Volta. Making sure that you continually upgrade your headquarters and have your crew work on new weapons and upgrades for your Volta is key to success in combat.

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Speaking of combat, this makes up the more substantial mode in Volta-X. Battles between other Volta and Kaiju take place in real-time, so players will need to think on their feet to survive.

I’m not the most versed in this style of gameplay, but Volta-X has some unique systems that force players to stay engaged during battles. To take out your enemy, you have to decide which part of the enemy you want to attack while paying attention to what they are using to attack. This requires you to navigate the three crew members inside your Volta to boost attacks and repair damage. Combat is hectic and intense, even though things may appear to be moving slowly.

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Volta-X does a fantastic job introducing combat mechanics to new players. Battles begin easy and forgiving to give players a chance to figure out the basics, but, over time, they slowly become more intense and unforgiving.

I admittedly wasn’t a big fan of combat at first. Things were slow going, and it honestly felt boring. However, the more time I sunk into Volta-X’s missions, the more things began to click for me. Towards the end of my time with the game, combat became less like a tedious slog and more like a fast-paced game of chess as I tried to read the enemy’s moves and counter them effectively. Though some fights can feel incredibly frustrating, finally figuring out an enemy’s weak point and taking them down is insanely satisfying.

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The two main combat game modes in Volta-X are mission and league battle. Mission mode is where you’ll find the game’s story content while league battle is more for jumping into battles quickly. League battles can be played on or offline, though seeing as how I could never find another player online, chances are most players are sticking to the single-player offerings.

Mission mode provides a plethora of entertaining fights, though. If you aren’t a fan of the story, you’ll have to sit through or skip a ton of dialogue scenes. League battles, on the other hand, are generally your best bet if you want to jump right into the action, though you won’t get much player progression if you don’t spend time completing missions.

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Volta-X manages to be a competent robot fighter, full of unique systems, and a design that will surely excite lovers of classic kaiju media. Its pacing makes it difficult to engage in its initial offerings entirely, but it ends up shaping into an enjoyable real-time strategy combat game. Through its blending of interactive team management features and one vs. one mech battles, I’d say Volta-X is worth checking out, at least for a few rounds.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.