Not The Robots
Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 8

I wasn’t sure if Not The Robots would live up to its wacky concept but it turned out to be much more addictive than I anticipated. Clearing out a level without taking damage is a rush and the stealth mechanics make for plenty of tense moments. It is not the easiest of games and it has to be completed in one sitting as there is no save feature but trust me it is worth it.

Gameplay: Eating furniture has never been this much fun!

Graphics: Nothing spectacular but gets the job done.

Sound: Good tunes and solid sound effects

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Not The Robots

Developer: 2DArray | Publisher: tinyBuild | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Action / Indie / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

When a game bills itself as a “procedurally generated stealth game where you play as a robot who eats furniture” it is hard not to sit up and take notice. It sounds like a completely bonkers concept but kudos to the developers for actually turning it into a challenging but horribly addictive game.

In Not The Robots you are placed in control of a one wheeled robot that can indeed race around and eat office furniture. “Eat” is probably not technically correct as anything from giant CRT monitors to lamps, desks, filing cabinets, sofas and plants can instantly be sucked into your mechanical maw. To spoil your rampant furniture consumption are some laser traps and machine-gun totting sentries that will cut you down to size when spotted. To complete a level you need to ingest a certain amount of furniture with the catch being that the furnishings also serve as cover. This means that the more things you eat the less you have to hide behind leaving you horribly exposed to the merciless sentries.

Levels are randomly generated so sometimes you are lucky and can finish an area with ease while others turn out to be near impossible. If your robot is killed the game is over giving the game a roguelike feel and ensuring that you stay on your toes. You earn experience for clearing levels without getting hurt, eating all the furniture in an area as well as picking up multipliers. These experience points is used to unlock 21 levels of permanent upgrades but before you get too excited it is worth mentioning that these upgrades favor the game and not your character. This means that the longer you play the harder the game becomes with bombs, wall traps and other nasties joining the cast of foes. There are some good permanent upgrades mixed in between such as increased inventory spaces and some new items just to keep you from tearing out your hair. You can also erase your progress and start from scratch if it all becomes too much for you.

The game was created by a very small team using the Unity engine but it actually looks pretty good. You see the game from an overhead isometric perspective which can easily be rotated for a better view. To avoid enemies and traps you need to constantly scan your surroundings and duck behind cover to avoid exposure. Because of the procedural nature of the game most levels look the same with only the layouts and trap placements differing but it adds to the claustrophobic feel and tense atmosphere. The soundtrack features some moody tunes that also add to the ambience without becoming distracting. Devoured computer terminals reveal more about the story and the voice acting for these messages are actually quite good. I won’t reveal anything as uncovering just what the heck is going on is quite interesting and I kept playing until I had found every message. Listening to the messages while sneaking around the levels can be a bit distracting but you can replay them from the main menu.

Early levels only require you to eat a predetermined amount of furniture before the exit elevator activate but later on you have to touch specific switches in the correct order and even tag all the enemies on a level. These added criteria make the game quite challenging and while a typical campaign can be won in just 40 minutes to an hour don’t bet on this happening every time. Each level has a certain amount of crates that reveal power-ups such as the ability to sprint, turn invisible, stun enemies or my personal favorite, dig which enables you to break through walls. The contents of the crates are a mystery until opened and you need an open inventory slot to do so. While you start out with only a solitary slot you can unlock more to prevent the heartache of having to discard a good item just to pick up something like the tagger which is required to complete some levels. The power-ups are useful but are powered by furniture so cannot be used indiscriminately. Sacrificing cover just to use a power-up adds another layer of strategic depth to the game.

The random nature of the game means that you will encounter rooms where the odds are very much against you. I also died plenty of time due to my own impatience as sometimes sprinting across a level devouring furniture before racing for the exit elevator is more exhilarating than playing hide and seek with sentry guns. If you tire of the campaign mode you can try some of the operations and challenges that are unlocked or generate your own custom levels.

While the game certainly has a very interesting premise I was caught off guard by just how addictive it turned out to be. Levels are short enough that dying isn’t that terrible even with the permadeath. Each time I failed I was sure that I would be able to do better in my next run or that the procedural levels would throw up something a little less harsh. I was usually wrong but I certainly had a lot of fun trying.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • Processor: 1.5Ghz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card from 2004 or later
  • DirectX: Version 7.0
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
  • OS: Mac OS 10.5 or later
  • Processor: 1.5Ghz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card from 2004 or later
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
  • Processor: 1.5Ghz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card from 2004 or later
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space

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