Fray is a simultaneous turn-based strategy game developed and published by Brain Candy; currently it is multiplayer only. It is set in a dystopian future where mega corporations fight for control over the populace of the Earth. Fighting among themselves and against climate change, leaving the world is all but destroyed. Simulated worlds are created and the past-time Fray is the most popular escape, as players fight for favour with one of the three corporations.
When you begin the game you will have to choose a faction to align yourself with; it isn’t too important which you take as there aren’t any huge differences to begin with. Each corp will give a small bonus to all your units to begin with and as you develop favour with them you can unlock one extra upgrade for each class later down the line. ChronaCorp will give extra speed, Magtyde Industries gives extra resistance and Aros Security gives extra health.
Before each battle you are given six classes and can choose a squad of four to take with you. These can be made into separate premade squads with different equipment set ups. You can also upgrade and equip your units from this screen, as well as check stats and how close each class is to levelling up.
The classes are split into three armour types and each class has its own roles on the battlefield. The Light armour classes are the Sniper and the Medic. The Sniper is made to sit far away from the conflict and attack high priority targets such as the medic and support, it can also use an armour cancelling shot to help take down the heavy armour classes more efficiently. Snipers have the longest vision range in the game, making them ideal to set up down long corridors to get an early view on the enemy team. Medics are there to heal your squad; when they aren’t healing the7y can freeze or blind opponents with other weaponry.
Medium armour consists of the Shadow and the Support. The Shadow is the stealth class, it has a camouflage ability that renders it invisible for three turns before needing to recharge. It is best used to scout enemy positions and take out light armoured targets behind the frontlines. The support is the most versatile class, offering all sorts of abilities. It can supply allies with ammo, make new spawn locations, reveal stealthed units, deploy orbital strikes and sentry guns and lay mines and fire bacteria based weapons. Depending on what you want your Support to do it can be many types of things, though it does require heavy investment in levelling and upgrades to obtain the versatility.
Heavy armour contains the Tank and Assault; both of which have more weapon options to choose from. The Tank has the most health and resistance, allowing it to run straight into the thick of battle and take attention away from your more vulnerable squad members. It can use a force field or a passive aura to both protect allies and take a percentage of damage the ally would take. The Assault has the Shoot on Sight ability which allows it to shoot the first enemy that comes into view automatically but has decrease movement and accuracy while it is active. It allows the Assault to get the jump on enemies that it comes into contact with a turn earlier in some cases.
Each turn revolves around a timeline, where each action has its own cost and the order of each action will help define how each turn plays out. Mapping out movement by going from A to B via C takes more time than going directly from A to B even if C is on the exact same route. This makes timing and efficient use of every action incredibly important. Just because an enemy is standing in a position you can shoot them in at one moment, may mean that by the time you have shot they are then out of sight. Also each weapon has limited ammo, so wasting shots can have repercussions further down the line.
The game is turn based so you have to make all your decisions ready before you press start. Unfortunately there is a timer on each turn, which is split into three equal time frames. Ending your turn in the first frame gives your squad a major stance bonus, second frame gives minor bonuses and the third gives none. Stances include Normal, Sprint, Offensive, Defensive and the two exclusive stances; Shoot on Sight and Camouflage. Stances take time to change and need to be taken into account for the timeline.
Shooting doesn’t always require line-of-sight, you can attack in a general direction or; if you know where an enemy was (this shows up as a red shadow on the field) you can choose attack character to shoot them when they come into vision during that timeframe. This is more easily done using the shoot and move command, where you can shoot on the move but only over a short distance. You will also need to use this with the medics heal if your allies are out of reach or line of sight is broken when you first try to heal.
Bonuses are scattered around the map, each squad member can pick up one at a time and as you pick it up you must chose the bonus type. You have a choice of ammo reload, stat buffs and purge debuffs. They are only picked up and not used; so you will still have to reload after picking up the ammo or purge negative effects after picking one up. The buffs only last for 3 turns but give the choice of resistance, speed or accuracy enhancements.
The game lets you choose between Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes. Deathmatch being a two or three player free for all and Team Deathmatch only supporting two versus two. Each game is over after either 30 turns have been played or one player manages to get seven kills. Unfortunately these are the only options and the multiplayer community is quite small, leaving low level players to get beaten by much more powerful, higher level opponents.
Presentation and Audio
At present all the audio seems to be fine and has some music that fits the setting reasonably well. Graphically however, there are still numerous bugs that are annoying, deceptive or game breaking. Characters disappear at times, leaving one side unable to find enemy units that are in plain sight. Maps are all different but all keep a similar style, making some maps feel very samey when compared to others.
When the game works it works reasonably well, many of the mechanics are difficult to apply with any great affect until you have spent a fair amount of time with the game. The fact that the game is multiplayer only means that you will often find yourself without opponents that aren’t vastly superior to you in terms of upgrades. The tutorial is just a set of slides, which are better than they were originally but still don’t offer enough help to get you used to the game at the beginning.
The biggest problem with the game is that it is riddled with bugs. You are lucky if just under half the matches you play, don’t have any game breaking or incredibly frustrating glitches. Problems are being fixed bit by bit but the game isn’t balanced and it is particularly tough to get used to the mechanics. If you are a big fan of these sorts of games then there may be something to check out once the game has been developed further.
If you can get a friend or find someone to play with regularly then the game can be quite salvageable. The huge amount of problems it has is due to it being released way too early, the fact it is multiplayer centric makes it difficult to recommend in this state. The power difference between players that have just started and those with half a dozen or more wins is quite substantial and only adds to the inaccessibility of the game.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.