With absent minded inventors, adventure seeking robots, and a synister plot just waiting to unfold, Wadjet Eye Games’ Puzzle Bots proves itself to be an adorable PC game that will have you giggling from start to finish. But is the cheesey dialogue and cartoony animations enough to make up for the overall simplicity of this independent game?
Everything seems to be hunky-dorie in Doctor Hugo’s Robot Factory. Inventors are inventin. Robots are adventurin. And Zander, our feeble-minded male lead (what would we do without a dumb main character to poke fun at?) is cluelessly unaffected by the shy Yuriko’s obvious attraction to him. But while our “genius” inventors are preoccupied with testing and training their pint-sized robot companions, an evil scheme is being hatched from behind the scenes.
There are 5 different robots (each with their own unique ability) that you must utilize in order to push, bomb, flamethrow, pick up and tow your way through 17 different levels. The controls are easy enough: simply point and click to navigate the puzzle, then complete some vague goal that the game fails to make clear.
The objectives in Puzzle Bots are vague and unclear.
This is because at the beginning of each level, your robots are typically dropped into a random scene that appears to be completely unrelated to Puzzle Bots’ generally uninspired storyline. And in these scenes, the clues to your current objective can only be found by hovering your pointer over random clickable items in the panel. It’s a brainless task that involves a lot of simple guesswork to reach level completion. My reaction to this was unsurprisingly, “WTF?”
Being an achievement-driven individual, I like to know why I’m doing what and exactly what the reward will be for said task; Motivation is a huge half of the battle. And when I discovered that this information was either unavailable to me or nonexistent, I had absolutely zero desire to complete the game (other than realizing that I had to get this review out in time for PAX! Failed on that one, too, eheheh).
For instance, take the scene where a bird flies into the factory and makes off with our robot friends. You’re dropped into some garden where your only prompt goes something like, “Woo! What an adventure!”
… Ooookay. That’s nice.
But now what?
Believe me — there were a few times that I mashed that “hint” button just to figure out what the hell was going on.
But fortunately for a game that can be beaten in about 3hrs or less, this independent creation holds a surprising pinch of interactive complexity.
Example: You are first taught how to use each robot’s abilities individually, then quickly learn how to accomplish tasks synergistically. The puzzles become more complicated, the story gets a little more interesting, and the gameplay is ultimately saved by nifty little difficulty tweaks like timing based point and clicks.
But beyond that, gameplay has “noob” written all over it. Though if that was the point, then hey! Mission accomplished.
The 2D cartoony graphics of this game are cute, sure, but are probably not meant to impress gamers who come from a heavy background of FPShooters and JRPGs. The designs of the human leads in Puzzle Bots are stiff and unimpressive (and the bonus unlockable “concept art” definitely does not lead me to believe that much planning had gone into the character sketching). The art style of the game is vaguely Futurama-esque except, y’know, worse.
Thankfully, the awful character renders are made up for entirely by the clever touches of detail put into the actual landscape and setting for the game. The environment is vibrant, colorful, and engaging enough to keep your eyes wandering and wondering.
Oh, and the actual robots are adorable (or as adorable as you can get for only being about 2 or 3 inches tall). My favorite is Bombchelle — duh, she’s pink and can blow stuff up? Doesn’t get much more badass than that.
Puzzle Bots has one of those upbeat theme songs that remind me of PC gaming back when Macs were still called “Macintosh” — novel stuff, really. Nothing that knocks your socks off. Then again, it’s basically a children’s PC game and I wasn’t really expecting an epic orchestra of sounds anyways.
The voice acting wasn’t too awful (although I definitely feel that some of the actors could have used a cup of coffee or two before submitting their lines). For a game that’s meant to make you laugh or is focused on the “zany” experience of the Puzzle Bots adventure, I would have preferred a little overacting on the dialogue. But it’s passable.
Probably my favorite sound clip is when you stumble onto bonus items throughout the game; The robots not only break out in dance, but some cool techno beat pops on that makes you wanna groove along with them. Too bad it only lasts for 3 seconds.
Overall, I’d say this game isn’t really worth the ten bucks that Wadjet Eye Games is charging for it. Thankfully, it’s going for only $5 at PAX for a limited time (check it out) which sounds much more reasonable to me and actually makes the game seem worth it for that price! However, this just isn’t a game that I would purchase for myself. Call me a harsh critic, but I prefer a little more shine and polish with my gaming experience. In fact, my 8 year old nephew would be insulted if I picked this up for him, as he’s constantly challenging me to a match of Call of Duty whenever I come to babysit. But I would definitely snag this sucker for my 4 year old niece — she’d feel like such a big girl during those kissing scenes. Eheheh.