Developer: Pyrodactyl Games
Publisher: Pyrodactyl Games
Review Context: Rogue-likes are one of my favorite genres. I have had no previous experience with Pyrodactyl Games
Date of Playthrough: April 2016
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 60Hz
Controls: Mouse and Keyboard
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy.
Good Robot is a twin stick, rogue-like, shoot’em up, with 2D silhouette visuals akin to Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. A rather simple game, Good Robot combines randomized levels and enemy placements with a money-based stat progression to form a fun and straightforward experience. Let’s see who the good robot really is.
Good Robot is quick to get into and easy to understand. Despite the player getting dropped right in with no direction, it doesn’t take long to learn that you can move, shoot, and shoot a secondary weapon. Some enemies drop a weapon that can be swapped out for your primary or secondary weapon and all enemies drop money. This money can be used at vending machines that appear at the end of floors. Good Robot is a ‘rogue-like,’ which means it has randomized elements and also permadeath. If you can’t afford a heal and the enemies whittle you down to zero, then it’s game over and you will have to start from the beginning. The game records your score though and can even share them on leaderboards.
There is an item shop that sells revives, random weapons, and heals your robot. There is also a stat shop that allows you to upgrade your robots; damage, rate of fire, total health, field of vision, and movement speed. It also sells one of five different passive items. The passive item that appears in the shop is random, but can be reset by leaving and reentering the shop. Upgrades include a money magnet, a laser sight, and an enemy sensor. Lastly, there is a hat shop at the beginning of every floor. Though all hats simply block one hit, the shop provides many different styles in order to accommodate the player’s unique fashion sense.
Floors are rather short, and at the end of every floor there are multiple doors with symbols on them, as well as the aforementioned shops. The symbol on the door represents what type of floor it leads to. Some floors have reduced lighting, some have electrified walls, and some have an extra large enemy somewhere in them. After a certain number of floors a big boss door will appear which will bring the player against a special boss. If the player succeeds in vanquishing said special boss, then they will move onto the next chapter, which is basically the same thing with a slight palette swap and some different enemies.
Good Robot is a fun and enjoyable game in its own right. Smooth controls and an enjoyable art style make for a fun experience. However, the game doesn’t offer anything new very quickly. The different weapons that can be picked up are quite varied, save for a few, but they are all of about the same effectiveness. The are no special good weapons to find, so once you find one you are comfortable with you will most likely just be using that the whole time. Then when you make it to the next chapter and you get the pallet swap, all it does is slightly change the background color and add in different enemies. It doesn’t feel like a new area, and in fact, it’s hard to tell that you’ve gone into a new section unless you notice the text that briefly appears in the corner saying the new chapter title. The enemies do change in appearances and position, but their attack patterns don’t really change. I felt like I was fighting the same enemies in chapter 1 as I was chapter 10. They were just clinging to the walls instead of floating aimlessly.
The game excels when the difficulty is ramped up and those neon bullets really start flying. The game is enjoyable enough to begin with, but once the enemy count increases the game starts to get really good. The only problem is that it takes far too long to get to that point for something that requires you to restart if you die. My longest run lasted 45 minutes and I only saw three total pallet swaps, including the starting chapters pallet. Compare that to another rogue-like The Binding of Isaac; an average, winning, The Binding of Isaac run lasts 45 minutes with many bosses, meta changing items, and different enemies. I lasted 45 minutes in Good Robot and only saw what I would expect to see in the first 10 minutes of an Isaac run.
Since you can really only upgrade your raw stats the progression feels extremely linear. Even after several rate of fire upgrades it still doesn’t feel much different from having base level stats. It really is only after you’ve gotten 35 minutes into a run that you start feeling powerful. There are literally only five passive items, but they don’t greatly help combat effectiveness, and two of them are basically worthless. As a result, every run I found myself buying the same things. I felt no reason to get anything other than damage or rate of fire because there was nothing else that was worth it.
I think what happened with Good Robot is that yet another company thought that all you had to do to make an infinitely repayable game is make the level layouts and enemy placements random. We have learned time and time again that this is not true. The player needs to expect to see something new, gain something that will help them get farther next times, or the gameplay needs to be so fun and exciting that it is worth it in and of itself. The Binding of Isaac has hundreds of unique items that combine in unexpected to ways to make it so that even the most experienced player hasn’t seen everything. Rogue Legacy doesn’t have that, but it does has permanent upgrades, which means even if a run didn’t go too well or if a run didn’t get farther than the last, then it was still worth it to the player. They still got a little more money, which means they got a little stronger, which means they will get a little bit farther than last time. There needs to be a more real impetus to play other than the levels wont be exactly the same. Unfortunately, that is all that Good Robot has.
In my first hour of play I already felt like I had seen everything Good Robot had to offer. This was only confirmed by my second hour of play, where I gradually got more and more bored doing essentially the same areas over and over in the exact same way, only to be frustratingly whittled down and kept from progressing further and seeing what is ahead. Good Robot does have some landmark bosses at the end of chapters that are always the same, but they mark your progression. I do have a desire to see what happens if I get far enough. As I said before, the game is good and plays well, but after spending a mere two hours on the game I am already so over saturated with it that I have zero desire to invest another 40 minutes in a run just to see the same things again.
Good Robot is a fun phone game. There isn’t a lot to it, but what there is is fun and stylish. It’s the kind of game I would use to kill time or go back to after a long amount of time. Sadly, because of how little it changes and how long it takes to scale to where the game gets really fun, I don’t think Good Robot will ever receive major success. Its a rogue-like yes, but that doesn’t automatically mean that it will have the same staying power that other rogue-like games have. It has everything a good rogue-like has, except the one thing that makes the genre so popular and successful; replayability. I want to see what is ahead, but the game is such a one note flavor that I have already tired of it. Maybe one day I will come back and have an epic hour and a half long run where I see something that blows my mind, but that isn’t going to be happening any time soon.
Similar Games Liked:
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (PC)
The Binding of Isaac (PC)