Warhammer: Doomwheel in Review: Rats and Destruction Should Be Better

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I know very little about the Warhammer 40K universe, but to be honest that’s not what drew me to this game anyway.  I like infinite runners, and the idea of portraying a rat driving a big wheel of doom just sounded pretty cool.  The concept is actually decent, and the game has its moments.  It even has one of my favorite elements of the infinite runner, the ability to level up by grinding through the worlds and completing missions.  It just doesn’t do anything to set it apart from all the infinite runners that have come before it.

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You are a rat.  It’s nothing personal; you just don’t get a choice of race to portray.  That’s okay, though, because you’re a large rat with an extremely overinflated Bigwheel – or “Doomwheel”, if you will – that can cause lots of destruction.  Your job is to show each of the clans what’s what, even if it is your own.  Apparently there is no loyalty among rats.  You accomplish your goals by driving through the neighborhoods of each of the clans, taking out as many inhabitants and small obstacles as you can while make sure to avoid the bigger things that make your vehicle less likely to respond after a collision.  Bear in mind, however, that just because you might drive away from a smaller obstacle, that doesn’t mean it didn’t do some damage to your ride.  You collect tokens along the way, which look different for each realm but serve the same purpose when you go to use them.  There are also three tasks to complete on a given level, and once that’s done a level is officially “closed”, allowing you to unlock the levels around it.  Of course you can revisit a “closed” level to get more tokens, but it’s often not worth it.

“So tell me more about these tokens!” you say.  Why certainly.  While you have the ability to visit neighboring levels once you’ve conquered the ones that are already open, you still need to unlock them, which is the first way you consume tokens.  Kind of annoying, but a couple of good runs should earn you enough to unlock each subsequent level.  The more important thing to use tokens on is sprucing up your Doomwheel.  There are three different aspects of your vehicle that can be upgraded, and each of them has several levels of enhancements spread across multiple categories.  For instance, boosting the Rats option actually increases your health, while tweaking the Wheel increases your warp charge.  You’ll want to keep a nice balance to the upgrades, though in the end it will probably do you well to just maximize as much as you can.

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There’s not really a whole lot to the game in terms of extras.  You can buy a couple of level packs via IAP, but that mainly gives you more territory to explore and conquer.  There’s a bestiary called Things that identifies and tells you about each of the different creatures you run across throughout the game.  It’s nice when you have a mission that tells you to kill X of something, but the game should really do a better job of indicating within a level that you’re about to come across what you need to kill, instead of waiting until after you’ve killed it to let you know you’ve done your job.

The visuals are probably the highlight of the game.  The critters are well designed and there’s a decent variety of them.  The levels are full of objects and animation and there’s a definite sense that the world is “alive”.  Even better, if something comes flying at you in the foreground, chances are you can spot a machine in the background that launched it at you.  Sometimes the amount of stuff on screen can be a bit overwhelming, and the color palettes often leave a bit to be desired, but this honestly feels like the area where they concentrated the most effort.  Unfortunately, the sound is another matter.  The music is not bad… for the first few minutes.  The problem is that there appears to be only one song no matter where you’re at in the game.  If nothing else it would seem that each clan could have its own theme.  The sound effects are fine for things like weapons firing and bricks smashing and the like, but most of the screams emanating from the monsters seem more human than anything.  It’s a shame that the audio and visual levels of the game aren’t in sync better.

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In the end I’m not really sure how I feel about this game.  I’ve had fun with it every time I’ve loaded it up, but it’s not something I’d find myself going back to on a regular basis.  I love building up the Doomwheel, but the different realms don’t always feel all that different from each other, and the missions are always of the simple “kill X monsters in y runs” type of deals.  The game looks good, but the sound and music are as repetitive as the levels.  Ultimately, Doomwheel is simply the mediocre use of a popular license.

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App Summary
Title: Warhammer: Doomwheel Developer: Katsu Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.6.3 Min OS Req: Android OS 4.1
Price: Free App Size: 56MB
  • Rat in a large, menacing wheel
  • Lots of destruction
  • Cool visuals and creature design
  • Repetitive levels
  • Boring missions
  • Lackluster music and sound
  • Doesn’t stand apart from its peers

Get it on Google Play

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