Good Robot (PC Review)
We’ve all had those troubling thoughts about the day in which machines become sentient and take over – thanks Terminator. Good Robot explores that facet of our imagination by placing us in a world overcome with “Bad Robots” that has eradicated all but a few remnants of humanity. Developer Pyrodactyl’s new title places us in the chassis of the last remaining “Good Robot” roaming a procedurally generated set of environments wiping out all Bad Robots that stand in our way.
In the late year of 2031 the world’s surface is thrown into a state of total pollution, deeming it uninhabitable for organic life. The few remaining inhabitants that survived the cataclysmic pollution sought refuge underground and created a new civilisation within the confines of the world’s network of caverns and hollows. Building these cities were their trusty robot workers that one day decided to go all Skynet and oppress their creators. With one unfortunate event after another, the survivors make one last gambit and decide to create another robot to fight back, a Good Robot. The story isn’t clearly addressed in the context of the game and has you wandering the Steam Storefront in search of answers as to why this Good Robot is in fact good and what his motivations are. The only other pieces of information provided are the chapter titles which provide the player with an understand of their progress in the world. It is however, too little. I’m not necessarily saying that the lack of narrative is all that bad, but with the emphasis on you being a “Good Robot” it would be nice to find out why that is in game.
There aren’t very many games that are more intuitive than the twin stick shooter variety. The simplicity of using one analog stick to move and another to shoot, or if you use mouse and keyboard then it’s as simple as pointing your mouse, is the underpinning of a universally approachable game. Flying around is handled with ease and movement is fluid and non-restrictive as it should be. Dodging incoming projectiles isn’t a hassle, but scanning the environment with your nifty head mounted torch can be a bit awkward as your torch is directed by the way you look, the same method in which your character automatically fires its weapon. Anytime you wish to light up an area ahead of you or peer round an obstacle, your little robot will fire his salvo of weaponry. There isn’t a deficit of doing this since ammo is infinite, it just gets progressively irritating.
The lighting mechanic is most the prominent feature Good Robot has on offer. Using Good Robots built-in flashlight you can illuminate your the path ahead of you with the cone of light that springs forth from whichever way he is facing. Areas that are not lit up can be occupied by unknown dangers from spawning holes to camouflaged enemies, which makes every corner a potential danger zone. Even if you are in a wide open space your flashlight can only cover enough area to make enemies in front of you visible, meaning enemies and enemy fire from behind will remain invisible so you’ll need to keep your wits about you. This may seem unfair at first, but there are plenty of weapons to counteract unseen enemies. Your Good Robot has two weapon slots, his primary slot is for low power, fast firing weapons and the secondary one is for high powered, slower firing projectiles. If you are being ambushed by a multitude of enemies or flanked from behind then armaments like the Grenade Launcher allows for a cluster bomb effect destroying several enemies in one go or opt for ricocheting plasma balls that deflect of surfaces and bounce around for a good while until it finds a target.
With all these tools at your disposal, there is little that can stand in your way. Through destroying the vast legion of robots you’ll slowly amass credits which you can use to upgrade your Good Robot at vending machines. You can upgrade your robots fire power to deal more damage or splash out on extra durability for your shields. You can even buy extra upgrades that could compliment your robot’s functionality; such things as laser targeting hardware or a sensory upgrade to see things that are in darkened areas. As a bonus to these stat boosts you can purchase “Invulnerability Hats” at select vending machines as well; they act as a one hit shield of sorts, think Crash Bandicoot’s Aku Aku mask.
Having to venture through procedurally generated levels with alternating obstacles and varying enemies to fight, is usually fun way to increase replayability to keep players on their toes. In Good Robot, the uncertainty of dangers is definitely present, but there’s usually a logical pattern to progression in roguelike games. You have a clear start and a clear exit, not much in the way to confuse the player. Good Robot approaches this sense of level direction slightly differently. At the end of every level you are faced with a couple of options displayed by icons on several exit doors that lie in front of you. Some doors are labeled with “$” that dictate the following area will be filled with more credit drops and some doors are displayed with small square icons with eyes which I can only assume are meant to depict enemies or difficulty of enemies, as they range in in various forms of colour from green, purple and red. Some doors even have a “?” that just sends you off somewhere random with random effects in play like electrified walls for you to avoid. It’s unclear which doors you NEED to go through and which are optional but the best I could make out was that if you see a door that is red then this is the correct route as a boss is most likely lying in wait, and as we all know games traditionally put a boss before the end of a chapter.
In essence, Good Robot is an all round well polished twin stick shooter. With its procedurally generated environments and its wealth of enemies, you are sure to be entertained for hours on end. Good Robot doesn’t really break any boundaries in terms of its gameplay other than its neat lighting mechanic, which is a nice touch in itself. But Good Robot feels rather generic; good. So if you haven’t delved into the roguelike genre before, Good Robot is an ideal place to start, it’s not over complicated and intuitive enough to pick up and play without much thought with tons of replay valueto boot.