By Kieron Gillen on January 29th, 2009 at 10:10 am.
The developers of this premium flashgame – and I’ll get to that in a minute – dropped us a line about this. While Walker’s played it before, because it’s called Robokill – thus buying into RPS’ dual loves of robots AND killing – I had to play too. It’s actually an interestingly direct mix of Diablo and Smash TV/Gauntlet with a Captive-esque surface layer. It involves Robots and Killing. More beneath the cut…
Basically, you play an upgradable robot, moving between enclosed, pre-designed arenas. Every time you enter a new room, the doors lock until you kill everyone in there. At which point, you can choose which exit to head through, and the cycle repeats. There’s a higher level map so you can track your path to your ultimate mission destination or – probably more importantly – work out where special rooms containing the eternal desirable l00t may be.
Because that’s where the Diablo element comes in – as well as collecting money, you can upgrade your robot. Four weapon slots are available, plus other inventory slots. While basic more expensive weapons are available from the shot, rare or unusual items can also be found. It’s these where you get more unusual builds – for example, I found a freezing laser gun plus a medium shotgun with knockback. Between the pair, I was able to both stun and send mobs reeling while the other two grenade-launchers pummelled them. It opens up this aspect slowly – you initially really just treat the game as a blaster – but it’s certainly there.
Two main reservations. Firstly, the life system – when you die, you get shunted back to the last travel point (you can move freely between them whilst claimed, allowing easy trips back to the shop) and the robots reclam a couple of rooms from the map. That means if you get stuck in a bit, you’re likely to find yourself having to barge your way through a couple of rooms you’ve beaten before you end up facing off against whatever beat you. While you get XP for this – there’s a levelling system – it’s still not exactly that compelling.
Secondly, the majority of deaths weren’t actually from combat. They were from… well, look at this screen:
See the detail on either side of the pathway my robot’s shooting from? Are they barriers or not? Zoomed in, it’s a little more obvious, but they’re actually drops. If you move off the playing area in a given arena, you fall to your death. Frankly, this is a genuinely strange design decision which adds nothing to the game other than a source of accidental deaths – and a good chunk of the arenas are just Smash TV squares. What would have been the functional difference from having a barrier to stop your robot just committing suicide? Well, the functional difference would be that you don’t zoom out of the first room and immediately fall into space, which almost made me quit it before I even started.
Bar that, I enjoyed this a lot. There’s four levels in the demo, which is a good chunk of robokilling. After that, you have to unlock the rest of the game by throwing down ten dollars for the experience. It’s basically a shareware model – as in, very large demo – but with the actual game stored on the browser. That’s an interesting model, isn’t it? I’ll be intrigued what people make of it.
But generally, I enjoyed this. While its main effect was to make me think that someone making a good Browser-based Diablo-clone would really be onto something, the room-by-room conflict format created a real desire to press on. Just one more room. And another. And a final on… oh, that was an easy one. That doesn’t count. This one. Yes, this one. Actually, not.
Also, Robots and killing. Go play.