Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The RPS Advent Calendar 2021, December 7th

We round off our first week of the Advent calendar with a game to chill out. Listen and you can hear what sounds like a fight. But a delightful one, with a lot of cricket chirping.

Butter my flatbreads, they’re just fucking super auto pets!

Alice0: Super Auto Pets is an auto battler that builds on the ideas of games like Dota Auto Chess and Teamfight Tactics, where we buy, upgrade and assemble a team of units and then watch battles against other players develop. Here these 2D battles are simplified to 1D, with our teams lined up in a row, and the murder wizards replaced with cute animals. Sounds easy and looks cheerful, but don’t be fooled: it’s delightful to master.

It has a wonderful absence of things that I don’t want in a video game right now: it has no plot to remember between sessions, no effort to catch up on, and no pressure to be at a certain pace to play. What the Auto-Battler has, besides the simple setup and the colorful art, is a complex system of synergies, combinations, weaknesses and possibilities. Like Ollie, I was excited to discover this web of interconnected skills, develop the theories behind builds, and react when my best plans meet other players’ plans and the capricious will of RNG. I’ve won with mega-strong teams, I’ve won with diabolical combos, and I’ve lost to teams that looked like they weren’t supposed to work at all and then revealed tricks that made me laugh.

One element I want to highlight: How much Super Auto Pets expands on the Auto-Battlers purchase page. A gratifying number of skills and items rig the shop, sometimes making the finance game as satisfying as building my animal army. This goes well with the gentle pace. With asynchronous matchmaking, there is no lap timer, no rush to buy. I can um and um about decisions for as long as I want. I can finish a run in the middle and go back to it the next day. Hell, I can even continue the same run on my phone.

It’s generous as hell too. The free-to-play base game is a lot to enjoy in and of itself, and the paid expansion offers no benefit as the matchmaking pools are segregated by default.

Super Auto Pets is both complex and casual, and I appreciate that energy right now.

An animal fight brewing in a Super Auto Pets screenshot.

Ollie: I’m sure there are many sentences I have said when talking about Super Auto Pets that anyone has never spoken before. Jewels like “Jeez, the dodo-hippo synergy is amazing”, “Nothing makes a peacock angrier than staring at an elephant’s ass” or “You end up with a bloody cricket, right?” are particularly remembered. And all of that was voiced out within my first few days playing this adorable and frankly quite ingenious little autobattler.

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