August 11th, 2010 | By Ashley King
Most everyone at some point in their life has wanted to own a robot, from the days of the Jetson’s gracing our television sets with their numerous robotic contraptions to those weird yapping robot dogs that seem to drift across the ocean from Japanland every year. Robots hold a unique fascination within our society and Erin Robinson has only served to further that fascination with her latest game, Puzzle Bots.
Puzzle Bots is an adventure game that features five curious robots on a mission to find out what’s up with Dr. Hugo, the boss himself. There are five different robots to control, each created by a different employee at Dr. Hugo’s factory and each with a different purpose in mind, from the ability to swim to lighting objects on fire with a flamethrower. Each robot has its own personality and abilities and utilizing all five of them in order to complete the devious puzzles is absolutely necessary.
After escaping from their enclosure, the robots decide early on that something is wrong at Dr. Hugo’s factory and decide to investigate the cause of his strange behavior. Soon a massive plot threatening the existence of the entire company is uncovered and the robots bring you along for the ride as they attempt to make things right in the world of robot inventors. The game’s sense of humor is decidedly unique and contains geeky but endearing dialogue with moments that will have you laughing as well as smacking your forehead as the story progresses.
While the humor is decidedly refreshing if not geeky, it’s not the only thing Puzzle Bots has up its sleeve. The point and click adventure scheme seems obvious at first as you have a single robot under your control, but as you progress and gain access to the other robots, you quickly see the value in having all of them available to solve the puzzles throughout the game. Each robot has a unique ability and only one ability, so utilizing all five in order to progress becomes essential and the search for the right robot can result in interesting dialogue between all robots involved.
The puzzles are not extremely challenging and they fit in with the theme of being extremely approachable by anyone, from kids to adults. However, you will need to pay close attention to everything that goes on around you so you can act accordingly. Though the puzzles are not hard and there is a hints system, Puzzle Bots nevertheless still manages to have a few moments of frustration since figuring out the puzzle is not immediately obvious and many times your pride doesn’t let you press the hint button.
Since the game is played entirely from the robots perspective, you will find yourself using small objects like cups and batteries to make things happen on a larger scale that eventually attracts the attention of the humans in the game. The robots share some interesting dialogue amongst themselves as they watch the humans and the trading of speculation as to what the humans are doing is one reason the game is so enjoyable. Ordinary every day objects become spectacular to the robots, with a toaster making an appearance as a giant robot, while spools of tape can be used to bridge gaps in a work bench.
The cartoon style graphics hold a unique charm of their own and it is almost as if you are playing your favorite Saturday morning cartoon as you watch the story unfold between puzzles. There is also a unique collection system incorporated into the game that lets you take the initiative to find new pieces of furniture for your robot abode. With 8 pieces to collect, hunting around the various screens for these new pieces of furniture can be a challenge in and of itself. Aside from the graphics, the voice acting is pretty solid, though the lines and interactions between several of the characters tend to be pretty geeky with just a sprinkling of charm. Even the robots have their own voices, though they communicate through a series of beeps and noises.
The controls of Puzzle Bots could stand to use some improvement, as working in close quarters with five robots on the screen can lead to you switching several times between the robots without meaning to do so. Other than the control problems, the animation during the human interaction scenes can be a little coarse, but given the cartoony style of the game, these animation glitches hardly take much away from the experience. My biggest problem with the game was the fact that there was no option to play in windowed mode, which means the game stretched across my rather huge monitor, making everything extremely pixelated.
If you enjoy light-hearted humor with a bit of a brain twist thrown in every now and then, by all means give Puzzle Bots a try. You’re sure to get a few laughs out of the robot’s various interactions and the puzzling gameplay will satisfy anyone.