Friday, December 20, 2013

PC Spotlight #60: Not The Robots

Title: Not The Robots
Developer: 2DArray
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $9.99
Games live or die by their gameplay. The art style, the music, the story creates a well-rounded experience, but if the core mechanics aren't there, aren't finely tuned and fun, then it's going to be feel lackluster and incomplete. If you strip away Not The Robots' weird furniture eating, robots characters, and roguelike elements, you'd still be left with a unique and challenging stealth game where the only way to win is to remove your cover.
Not The Robots is essentially a stealth roguelike, where, rather than lurking through dungeon tunnels or planning turns, you're evading sentry bots, avoiding lasers, moving over dangerous floor tiles, and myriad other hazards as you progress through the procedurally generated floors of various buildings. Your uni-wheeled robot can roll fast to quickly break line of sight of armed sentries or keep up with a moving laser grid, as well as crouch to hide behind obstacles and avoid other dangers. To complete a floor, your robot must devour a set amount of furniture per level to unlock the exit and there in lies the strategy. Removing furniture means less places to hide, less barriers to block lasers, and makes getting to the exit that much more challenging; it even adds slight puzzle vibe to the game, as planning what furniture to remove will help your escape, especially since sentry patrols will change once you open new paths.You have limited health and your only course of action when seen is to run and hide. Better scores are earned by eating all furniture, taking no damage, not being seen, and upon death, you rank up and can unlock permanent upgrades.
Besides your natural hiding skills, you can collect a limited use ability, ranging from going invisible (but motionless) to placing a block down which you can hide behind, even the ability to remove a wall and alter the level's layout. You can only equip one ability at a time and they can be used once before having to recharge (by eating furniture) so they must be used tactically and at the most opportune moment. There are also items found throughout the levels, providing things from an extra inventory slot (so you can two abilities rather than just one) and score multipliers to a scanner to see what abilities are contained in a box. Logs that gradually explain the story, health packs, and more are also scattered across the levels. You'll even encounter bosses.
Besides the procedurally generated campaign, there are also 20 challenge levels to test your skills, so there's something for the speed-run fan as well. Not The Robots blends tense stealth with the ever-looming threat of permadeath to create a fun challenging experience. You can purchase the game on Steam.

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