It wasn’t long ago when a large portion of the gaming community was taken by a part tactical strategy with minimal dispute, part RNG nightmare that we know as Dota Auto Chess. Since then the game has gone through several updates, featuring new characters along with balancing and bug fixes. Now the same team that brought you Dota Auto Chess has taken the experience to the mobile platform as a game named simply Auto Chess.
The premise of Auto Chess is simple; you’re given an amount of money every turn to buy units from a selection of 5 units that are drawn from a pool at random. The goal is to pick stronger units than your opponents as those units you choose and place on your board will do battle one on one against other players each turn. You can also upgrade your units by collecting 3 of the same kind of unit and combining them on the board. While the core mechanics of the game are simple to pick up and understand, there’s also a deep race and class based bonus system which heavily impacts what units you want to choose and how to build your team.
The race and class system is what makes Auto Chess truly compelling and addictive. The game encourages you to explore and experiment all different options due to the random nature of the units you’re given. This means that no single game you play can be played the same way. It requires free-form thinking and a willingness to adapt your strategy, and even then luck may just not be on your side. It’s this uniqueness to every experience that makes you keep coming back for more. With that in mind, as this is the mobile version of Auto Chess being reviewed, let’s take a look at how the game looks, feels and plays.
While not exactly a graphical homerun compared to some of the experiences you can now have on a mobile device, Auto Chess definitely has its own charm. It leans heavily into a cartoon style rather than focusing on graphical fidelity. This means the game looks great in its own respect and can even be played on older devices. The inspiration for each unit can clearly be seen when referencing their Dota Auto Chess counterparts but there is definitely some uniqueness to the look of Auto Chess’ characters when compared to its predecessor. Overall the game is easy and pleasant to look at even if it’s nothing revolutionary.
The music in Auto Chess, while not grand or particularly moving, plays its part quite well. The main menu music is quite arcade-like, not dissimilar to the kind of music you’ll find in other mobile games. Once you get into a game – you’re greeted with low drumbeats gradually getting stronger and being mixed in with the sounds of different percussion instruments. It’s quite enjoyable that as the game begins to reach its climax, the music also reaches its crescendo. One big disappointment though is the lack of English voices for the characters. As a large part of the game’s audience is the global market it seems like a missed opportunity. At very least subtitles here and there would’ve been nice but it seems like localisation for this game was rushed and not treated with care. The sounds are quite nice, but you don’t really miss out on much by playing the game muted.
If you’ve ever played Dota Auto Chess, you know what you’re getting into here. It’s just a downsized, streamlined version of the game you already know. There are some issues around UI like selecting and dragging items which suffer on smaller screens. I was using a S9+ but was still having issues with how small the item menu was. Another issue is the lack of auto combination which has been available on Dota Auto Chess for months now. A few other small frustrations around the UI and the way the game control pop up but for the most part it’s a faithful representation of what the original game is.
I played the game on a Samsung Galaxy S9+ and during my time with the game I didn’t experience any massive slowdowns or frame skipping. The game seems to run well even when I had other apps running on the background. At times I got audio bugs where the volume would be a bit louder but those were few and far between. Generally, performance here was solid though it remains to be seen how well the game will fair on older devices, but considering this game isn’t pushing any graphical boundaries it’s pretty safe to say the game should run well on most modern devices.
The game overall delivers the experience expected from an Auto Chess game on mobile. It retains the game’s core mechanics while slimming down on some of the clunkier aspects of Dota Auto Chess. While the game does suffer from some UI issues and could really do with some quality of life updates, for the most part the game retains the fun of Dota Auto Chess and makes it available to a wider audience. If you’ve never played Dota Auto Chess it’s a great way to get into it and for Auto Chess veterans it’s a good way to now take that experience on the go.
In-house nerd. PC Gamer. Probably one of the most try-hard FPS gamers in the team but still never manages to maintain a rank beyond silver.