Robots AND Killing: Robokill

By Kieron Gillen on January 29th, 2009 at 10:10 am.

Robots
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:
Killing
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.

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43 Comments »

  1. D says:

    Oh yeah, this game.
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/07/22/robokill-titan-prime/
    I thought I had played it before! :D

  2. Legandir says:

    I was having fun with this until i started falling off edges. The one that made me quit the game was when i teleported to a room and instinctively pressed up which pushed me straight off the edge.

    There’s a potentially great game in there, but only if they add in barriers where they should be

  3. Ian says:

    I actually liked this enough to pay for the rest of the levels.

    I wish there was more of it. I really like it but I didn’t find it to have stacks of replay value.

    Can anybody point me in the direction of something similar to scratch the itch?

  4. Albides says:

    Ian,

    As far as mad swarmy shooting with the Diablo element of an inventory and collectables, you really can’t go past Alien Shooter: Vengeance. Completely different vibe, as it’s much more like Diablo in space than Smash TV. In Survival mode, it’s very much like Crimsonland if you’ve played that.

    Can’t think of anything else.

  5. Ian says:

    I liked Crimsonland but a) I wasn’t very good at it and b) I think Robokill being a little more structured (I felt) engaged me a bit more.

    That Alien Shooter game looks fun but sadly it appears not to be available over here.

  6. Heliocentric says:

    You people and your falling to death. Obviously the ultimate weapons are anything that either freezes or knocks back but most importantly they must penetrate through enemies. This means those levels with epic swarms of enemies are quickly cleaned away.

    $10 (nearly £7) seems a little steep for a game i would quickly abandon to never play again. But the mechanics are fine. But i suspect they would have sold more than twice as copies at $5.

  7. Primar says:

    I remember playing this a couple months back – as free flash games go, it’s definitely one of the better ones.

    Things that irritated me:
    Some of the weapons didn’t seem that useful – grenade/rocket launchers SOUND cool, until you realise that anything that fires faster/spreads is far better.
    A couple of the rooms were genuinely irritating, most notably the ones where you want to move to avoid projectiles, but can’t due to hilarious LOLDEATH drops.

    Good way to waste half an hour when you’re bored, though!

  8. moromete says:

    I thought that the death mechanics was, if anything, too forgiving. After all the actual combat is not too hard, so punishing the player a bit so that he can polish up on his skills seemed like a very good idea…

  9. Heliocentric says:

    This just in: Stupid people fall down holes.

    And in the game.

    Those holes can be used against your enemies with knockback weapons BTW. Some big fights were made laughably easy by pushing “minibosses” down holes.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helio: Don’t become a game designer.

    KG

  11. D says:

    @Ian: Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor on Steam are cool 3D alien shooters that everyone ought to play too.

    @Rest: The holes are fine. Why wouldn’t you fall down them?

  12. manwe says:

    @Ian (and D above), I can confirm that the Shadowgrounds games are great fun, especially two people on same screen! I played on my projector, friend on keyboard and mouse and me on joypad. Great fun, like a super-fun, upto date cross of the Amiga’s wunder games: Alien Breed and Cannon Fodder. In space.

  13. Colthor says:

    I really liked this game, enough to buy the full thing (when the exchange rate was better) and play through it twice. It’s a good blast, and I really like collecting loot.

    Aside from the holes, the only criticism is that the paid-for bit doesn’t really expand on the free bit as much as you’d like.

  14. Helm says:

    I bought this at the time and although I enjoyed it I had the same gripe that Colthor had: didn’t offer much more for the money. That’s a big problem with the shareware model, heh.

  15. Yargh says:

    ‘with a Captive-esque surface layer’ !!

    Oh boy, just reading the name Captive brings back fond memories of upgrading my robot pals. I wonder if I can find that game again (it has probably aged a little though).

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Both the shadsie ground games are awesome for their smashtv with rpg stats. Also CO-OP.

    @KG
    Your words burn me so. To be honest… I’d keep the holes but make them an inconvience/flavour rather than a threat (for example, a slight amount of easy topdown platforming and some stairs, also you could jump down holes for cover from direct fire and grenades would fall down the holes.)

    But i didnt tend to fall down them much, like once and from then on when i wasnt really looking because something else had my attention. But yes, had a made a game this good i wouldnt have made them one touch death, maybe a room restart with 20% health loss. That way pits are a slap on the wrist.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    I didn’t die with them often – but I died from them at least as much as the opposition. That’s always a problem in a game. What do they add to the game until you can knock people off – which I got on the third of the four free levels? Nowt but annoyance. Instant deaths are really rarely an interesting game mechanic.

    KG

  18. Heliocentric says:

    HOLY SHIT! they need to add prince of persia time rewind! If you are a robot in the game it can be justified as “predictive processing”.

    If not…. MAGICK!

  19. Eamo says:

    Fun little game. The holes themselves didn’t bother me as long as it was clear where they were. There are a couple of places where you don’t see its a hole until you fall into it. I kinda felt that you gained in power a lot faster than the enemies gained in difficulty so after a short while it just became a case of grinding my way through the levels without any real danger. Maybe in the full version the difficulty picks up a bit later on.

    I actually quite liked how they managed the death with the 2 rooms being recaptured. It is actually a pretty easy way to implement difficulty levels. If someone is crap they will gradually level past the content while if someone is good they will tend to get through it with relatively little increase in power.

  20. megaman says:

    You know I love RPS, and I love robots and killing. I read that last article when it was new and I played the demo afterwards, but I miss the news in this article that I might want to hear about. What’s in that mysterious line the devs dropped you?

  21. Switchbreak says:

    They should have done the Zelda thing, just magic you back to the doorway with less life if you fall down a hole, and don’t bother providing any sensible explanation for it. Gameplay trumps physics.

  22. D says:

    The toughest levels I came across were the ones where you had to dodge a frenzy of bullets while staying away from the holes. A couple of times I had to intentionally put my cursor over a problematic turret, leave it there with its click down, and just focus solely on navigating the level and dodging the bullets.

    That would have been a lot easier and somewhat more boring if the danger of holes wasen’t there. Only few of the enemies can cause trouble to the player, so for me it makes sense to demand that the lazy bugger atleast pays attention to where he’s going.

    But ofcourse it needs to be obvious what’re holes and what’re not, but I didn’t have any trouble determining that. Theres some nice artwork down there sometimes.

  23. Pags says:

    For clarification, does this game contain robots? Furthermore, does this game involve killing?

  24. Cooper42 says:

    You could just fudge it and make it impossible to walk yourself of the edges, but possible to be pushed off by monsters and to push monsters off with knockback weapons.

    I played this when it came out, via the strange wealth of shite and intrigue that is jayisgames.com
    I liked the model, I’ve always liked the shareware model – I’m a big fan of good, solid demos with a real indication of the game, shareware seems to provide that. But I didn’t spend the money. There was no indication that the game offered much more than I got through the demo. I wasn’t left hankering for more of the same. A little bit more polish in terms of the handling, level design and scope for upgrades and I’d have happily paid twice the price for this robot diablo clone. As it is, it’s just not quite rounded off well enough.

  25. monkeymonster says:

    Groovy little game got me well hooked till I finished it – but bizarrely I had already tried it! RPS not at forefront of gaming shocker! :D Do however try dogfight 2 for some graphically lovely gaming – just remember not to swear as loudly as I did :)

  26. Lorc says:

    The comments thread for the previous post on this game was a fun read. About halfway through it gets taken over by people desperate to know how to get the full version for free.

    Which amused me.

    Game was fun for a while, but I was beginning to get bored before I hit the pay wall. Maybe if there were more varied or exotic weapons.

  27. pepper says:

    Helio is right, work with the holes, not against them! I really enjoyed this game, although after killing so many bots i didnt feel like pushing on.

  28. Dracko says:

    Kieron: Don’t become a game designer.

  29. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Dracko: Don’t become a game designer critic.

  30. Jochen Scheisse says:

    You may be a game designer critic critic, though.

  31. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Also, Kieron: Instead of giving the RPS teatsucklemind games that have already been threaded, rather give them Nanosmiles.

    http://engrishgames.blogspot.com/2008/02/nanosmiles.html

  32. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Oh, already been posted, too ^^

    Well then, I guess the internets are finally overfished and we can all go and play in the sun.

  33. Robin says:

    Robokill is OK. The ‘Diablo-ness’ makes it quite addictive, up to the point where the poor balance (i.e. rooms that instantly kill you) and unsuitability of Flash (weedy graphics, unresponsive input, lengthy initial loading time) become intolerable. (YMMV.)

    Droid Assault is infinitely better though. Looks nicer, controls better, is genuinely strategic and you get tons more levels in the full version. One of the best games I played last year.

  34. pepper says:

    Can i be a gamedeveloper then? Since you lads only tend to focus on design ^_^?!

  35. Heliocentric says:

    *in unison with the others* NO!!!

  36. pepper says:

    Aw, you insensitive clod!

  37. Tei says:

    Grrrreat game :-)

  38. Post Maker says:

    Since everyone’s talking about game design, now would seem to be a good time to mention that GamePoop has been updated after a semi-long hiatus.

    My computer broke recently though, so updates are going to continue to be few, far between and potentially poorly thought out.

  39. caesarbear says:

    The issue with the falling is that unlike standard shoot’em ups, Robokill pulls your attention away from your character. In most scrolling shooters and flash shooters the player need not look at the enemies to shoot them and can focus on dodging around incoming shots. Robokill demands a bit more awareness about the other objects in the room and as a consequence it’s easy to fall into the similarly contrasted pit. As a mechanic itself, it’s not a bad thing, just challenging, but where it goes wrong is making it the most severe challenge of the game at times. The game is too easy without the pits, but the risk/reward balance of them is way off.

  40. DonaldDuck says:

    Kieron – I’ll have to disagree quite strongly on one of your points — instant kills can be a fantastic mechanic when the game is carefully designed. For a recent example, Mega Man 9.
    I agree in this case, but you make it sound as a rule of thumb. Some games simply need the instant death mechanic to achieve their potential, without it they would become fuzzy, unfocused, and plain boring as their main draw is a pure challenge.

  41. taca says:

    como se juega!!!!

  42. Lilo says:

    Obviously the ultimate weapons are anything that either freezes or knocks back but most importantly they must penetrate through enemies

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