I've never entirely understood the appeal of games featuring programming elements. They ask you to enact one of the trickiest parts of development, but without rewarding you with a finished game at the end. Algo Bot - a new puzzler from the developers of horsey type-'em-up Epistory, which Pip enjoyed a fair bit - features programming, but wraps it up in an attractive sci-fi world where WALL-E-esque robots bicker in gleaming spaceship hallways. It's out now on Steam for $8.99/$6.47.
While Fishing Cactus' Epistory asked you to type like your life depended on it (it, er, did) to battle enemies and explore a pretty, papercraft fantasy world, Algo Bot is game of symbols and rigorous puzzling instead. In your attempt to prevent a colony ship from going tits-up and killing everyone on-board, you'll input sequences of commands to a cute little helper bot, using a visual programming language that somehow bypasses the need for long strings of words. You do this by dragging symbols such as 'go forward' or 'pick up object' onto a timeline at the bottom of the screen. The bot will then carry these orders out in sequence, revealing that you've plonked 'turn right' down in the wrong place and thus doomed humanity to an eternal slumber.
My concerns about in-game programming aside, I do love the chunky, clean, and minimalist aesthetic they're going for here. I also appreciate the gently mocking tone of the narrator bot, PAL, who appears to fall somewhere between Marvin the Paranoid Android and GlaDOS.
Algo Bot's got over 40 puzzles spread out over five areas, so it sounds like a fairly hefty game. As usual, there's a launch discount in place, so if you want to shave a few pennies off the asking price you'll need to pick this up before February 21st.