The world is done, gone and broken, and robots killed us all…but a single company made all of them and they really don’t want their involvement getting out. So now it’s up to the last Good Robot to clear up the mess, with extreme prejudice.
Genre(s): Action | Shoot ’em Up
Release Date: April 2016
Played: Ten runs with varying success and failure.
Purchase At: Steam
Good robot is a shoot ‘em up where you play as a little flying robot with a laser cannon, a secondary weapon of your choice, probably some form of rocket launcher, and a big flashlight to illuminate your surroundings as you explore the deep caverns and destroy all the evil robots in your path. Why are they evil? Well, they killed off humanity and your corporate overlords say they’re evil, so you do your job and don’t complain! Also, make sure to support your masters by buying upgrades, weapons and nice hats from vending machines. Do your part, Robot!
That silly paragraph pretty much describes the game. Beyond the “corporate cleanup job” premise and the healthy dose of humour on the Steam store page, there really isn’t any story in Good Robot. It’s the simplest of excuses to explain why your character is hunting other robots.
You start the game with a basic weapon and a highly inaccurate secondary weapon and must make your way through the cavernous levels finding and destroying all enemies in your path. But the levels are very dark and if you’re not pointing your flashlight at the enemies, or their general direction, you can’t see them, and that’s really dangerous. You can move in every direction but so can they and getting cornered in a bullet storm because you didn’t take out the robot on that one dark corner is a very real possibility.
As you kill enemies, sometimes they drop their weapons and you can take them for yourself, replacing the ones you’re carrying—think Contra. They also drop money and you use it to upgrade your character in the blue vending machines. Every upgrade you purchase increases the cost of not only that type of upgrade—movements speed, shield, fire rate/damage, etc.—but of all of them. I’m not fan and would’ve preferred each upgrade type tracked separately but the more you advance and the bigger the enemies and firefights are, the more money you get so it never feels unfair.
Red vending machines give you special items, such as weapons but their true use is the healing option, which also gets more expensive with every purchase on this machine. Lastly you have the yellow one and here the products always cost 0. These are your hats to decorate your Good Robot, from a Pope Hat to a Samurai Helmet. Hats have no mechanical benefit aside from looking fine and blocking the damage from one shot, but then you lose the hat.
The gameplay is simple, just point and shoot but with large environments, an ever increasing list of enemy types and increases in challenge that lead to more money and satisfying upgrades, it becomes very addictive and every death makes you just want to start over and try to beat your own record—or that of the others on the leaderboards—and get even further in. As I played the game, I had to force myself to stop to write this review.
Having said so, there are two things that bother me about Good Robot. The first one is the lack of a map. I know they’re randomly generated maps for every run, but many times while switching to a new level I felt like I had returned to an earlier one. A map would’ve helped greatly then, to know that I was in a new place or if I indeed returned, it would let me know where the exits were. You could have a map that builds as you explore, sort of like lifting the fog of war in strategy games.
The second one is a visual issue. I like the style for Good Robot, looking like a classic 8-or-16-bit game but with wonderful use of lights and shadows that work fantastically with the flashlight mechanic. And the Good Robot and his hats look lovely and the enemies have their distinct looks and feel unique, especially the bosses, but the environments are samey. They are, in fact, the same rooms but with different lighting: purple, blue, red or yellow but all caverns. A change would’ve been welcome, to let me see more of this Terminator-like future.
Good Robot is a really fun game, addictive as can be and it’s very hard to stop playing it. I would’ve loved a map though, and greater variety in environments. But you know, that probably won’t stop me from playing it until I beat my best scores.
4/5 – Exceptional!