Trouble With Robots
The inhabitants of Middle Turf were enjoying their peaceful, fantasy world existence until the arrival of a robotic menace. These mechanized monstrosities showed little regard for what the fantasy creatures wanted and instead set about modernizing everything in sight. After seeing the alarming rate at which the robots were putting up no smoking signs and wireless hotspots the fantasy folks decided to strike back before it is too late. Of course, the robots didn’t take too kindly to this interference and all-out war ensues.
Trouble With Robots was initially a PC title, but is now available on Android in a much enhanced form, which is quite a surprise as the inverse is usually true. The developers already had some great core gameplay mechanics in place with the PC version, but the mobile version benefits from a whole host of fine tuning and visual enhancements. The basic format of the game is that of a collectible card game where battles take place in real-time. As your armies clash with opponents on the battlefield, you view the action from the sidelines and use the cards to try and change the odds in your favor. Before each battle you get to customize your deck using the cards that you have previously unlocked and must then use these strategically to survive the waves of enemies.
With more than 40 cards to unlock, TWR leaves plenty of room to develop interesting strategies, but never gets bogged down in too much technical detail. New cards are unlocked through completing levels or by earning stars which is given for every wave you survive without losing units. Cards can either summon creatures, do direct damage to enemies, buff units or heal them, with some cards offering a combination of these. Since you can usually only take between seven and nine cards into battle with you it can be tricky to make the right selection. For example, one strategy might involve summoning ranged units and then using a slowdown spell to prevent enemies from reaching them too soon while you also rain down area of effect spells such as fireballs. Alternatively, you might opt for melee units and buff them with invincibility and healing spells, so that they can take down enemies quickly without sustaining too much damage in the process. I found myself constantly experimenting with new combinations as I unlocked cards instead of simply sticking to a couple of overpowered cards as in similar titles.
Many of the cards complement each other, so the secret to a successful deck is figuring out which ones work best against the foes you will be facing. Because of the low amount of cards that you take into battle, you don’t have to sit around waiting forever for a particular card to show up in your hand. Instead the focus is more on what type of card to play and when. Instead of resource cards, you are given new cards at the start of each turn and cast them as your wand builds up charges. You can still use these charges even with an empty hand to inflict direct damage on enemy units which is a nice touch. Your path through the game is fairly linear, but you do occasionally encounter optional challenge levels where the difficulty is ramped up, but you earn more stars. Story levels can also be tackled on Easy, Normal or Hard, with the last two featuring more enemies and a bigger challenge, but with more star multipliers. The entire first chapter of the game is available for free, while chapters two and three can be purchased separately or as a bundle. The asking price for these two chapters is definitely worth it and there are no other micro transactions or in-app purchases to ruin the fun.
Visually the redesigned artwork looks beautiful compared to the original PC version. All the character art, card art and backgrounds have been completely redone and features much more detail. The visuals are 2D and viewed from a slightly skewed side-on perspective. All your units are summoned from the left side of the screen while the enemy forces appear from the right. The units consist of peasants, elves, dwarves, centaurs, trolls, griffins, dragons and more while the enemy bots come in all shapes and sizes. You can select whether you want to see the health of your units displayed as a bar, text or not at all and there are even alternate colors to make the game more accessible to color blind users. Before each battle there is usually some humorous banter between your units and the enemies, to set up the scene. The story is very lighthearted and there even a couple of scenes that managed to make me laugh out loud.
The audio is good and features plenty of catchy background tunes. If you spend a lot of time playing the game some of the tunes can become repetitive, but the music and sound effects volume can be adjusted independently and you always have the option of listening to your own tunes in the background. The game doesn’t feature any speech, but as it was designed to play on the go this isn’t really a big issue. The touch controls are also very responsive and I never had any trouble selecting cards or casting spells.
Don’t let the fact that you cannot control your units directly fool you into thinking that Trouble With Robots is a simple game. The interface might be streamlined, but by removing all the clutter the game allows you to focus on what is important instead of drowning in the small details. Since some of the cards are only available on the higher difficulty settings the game has plenty of replay value and also features 54 achievements to aim for. I would have liked to see some type of multi-player mode, but even without it there is plenty to keep players busy. Since the first chapter is free there is nothing to lose by checking out the game, but you might as well grab the subsequent chapters if you are a fan of the genre because you will definitely want to keep playing.