Mimic Arena is the debut title from Portland, Oregon-based Tiny Horse Games. An entertaining nod to the 2D platform shooters of yesteryear with a twist - the eponymous Mimics. After a player is killed, their "Mimic" appears where they originally spawned and retraces the steps taken by the player leading up to their death. Projectiles that were fired by the player will also be fired by the Mimic and they will kill other players all the same. This forces players to keep on eye on Mimics and try to remember the previous moves of their opponents as they move through the level with the help of wall jumps and teleporters.
Mimic Arena features three gametypes. The first is a standard Deathmatch mode where players try to take each other out while dodging fire from enemies and Mimics alike. The second is Survival - essentially Deathmatch but with laser beams intermittently blocking various passages throughout the stage. The final gametype, Infiltration, was my personal favorite, mostly because it makes such great use of Mimics.
In Inflitration, players start in their own goal area and make their way to their opponents', leaving a telltale trail as they go. Once a player reaches an opponent's goal, they're transported back to their own goal as their Mimic sets off and retraces the successful path to the opposing goal. Points are only scored when the Mimic reaches the goal, requiring players to balance the need to establish Mimics, defend Mimics, and defend against enemy players and Mimics.
Deathmatch and Survival were enjoyable - with the laser beams in Survival catching me off guard more than once - but it was Infiltration that led me to discover different strategies to outwit and outmaneuver my friends. A personal favorite is banking shots off of angled walls while heading towards so goal in order to create a Mimic that replicates these shots and can potentially take out an enemy player or Mimic. You can't foresee where your Mimic will be attacked from, but firing preemptive shots can catch future assailants off-guard. It's a fun concept that makes for some interesting matches once you get your head around it. While the game lacks a tutorial the controls are intuitive and I got the hang of things after only a few short games.
The modest price of $8USD makes it hard to complain too much, but the content is fairly limited. Most noticeably, there are no AI bots to fight against and no online multiplayer to speak of. While this isn't a dealbreaker for me personally, a couch multiplayer only game certainly isn't what many gamers are looking for these days. To get the full experience, you'll need four controllers and three other people in the room to play against. Unfortunately, those with only one controller won't be able to play Mimic Arena at all.
That being said, those who are looking for an old school 2-4 player local multiplayer experience should consider a purchase. Probably not the sort of game you'd build a weekly event around, but an inexpensive, accessible, party-friendly title like Mimic Arena would be a welcome addition to many Xbox One libraries. Yes, there's only three game modes (two of which are simple free-for alls) and only five maps for each. It isn't a game many will play for hours on end but if you've got the extra controllers it's a great way to battle your friends like it's the '90s again.