It’s gonna be the future soon
Just once, I want to see a future where humanity has created artificial life and not completely screwed it up! Unfortunately this week I was disappointed again by theoretical future humankind as I dived into Robothorium by Goblinz Studios; a sci-fi dungeon crawler set in the not-to-distant future wherein you take control of a team of robots that have been suitable oppressed by idiot humans and have risen up (with the help of some not-so-idiot humans) to overthrow the government/shady megacorperation. What a refreshing change of pace!
Jokes aside, the entirely functional, if not a little formulaic story-line, is always going to be part of the sidelines when it comes to dungeon crawlers. Silly plots just get in the way of all the number crunching and praying for the sweet loots is what it’s all about!
Viva La Revolution!
Gameplay wise it’s a pretty standard affair. Take your team of five robots through various procedurally generated hostile laboratories trying to keep your danger level down. The danger lever rises if you fail the percentage checks dotted around the dungeon in the form of traps, free loot and hackable surveillance equipment that can reduce the danger level. As the danger level rises the harder it’ll be to disarm traps, gain freebie health buffs before the next fight and the enemies will start battles with their own buffs. To be honest, I found pretty quickly that the rewards for succeeding the percentage check were never really worth it, especially as RNG can be a fickle beast and have you fail 5x 80% chance of success checks in a row, so I just ignored everything and focused on fighting the battles and getting to the goal room.
Fight The Power
The fights themselves are turn based and each of your robots has a standard RPG role to play. You’ve got the high damage dealers, the tanks and the supports. Every robot/enemy has a shield which regenerates on their turn and can be healed by support classes. Take away the shield and you expose the soft underbelly of health. Health doesn’t regenerate so any damage on it won’t be coming back even if the the shields are restored.
Each robot class has a different set of powers that can be used to heal, add buffs, apply negative effects, damage opponents or some mixture there of and a basic attack. Powers increase the specific robots overload meter which, when full, stuns it for a turn and basic attacks reduce the overload meter.
This balancing of the overload meter whilst also trying to use as many powers as possible gives the battles a surprisingly deep quality. There’s plenty of variation in choice of which robots you can bring along, each with their own skill tree and sets of powers and mixing and matching up various squads so they all work well together is quite fun. But I stumbled across a winning team very early on in the game and used the same group of 5 for every mission.
Easy Game, Easy Life
Now, I am by no means a “god-tier” gamer but after stumbling into a very strong set of robots I found fighting completely trivial towards the end as my strategy of; turn one apply all the buffs to my damage dealers and a load of negative effects to the enemy, turn two just use the basic attacks which, with all the buffs, did ludicrous damage and then focus fire on each enemy individually until I’d won. Rinse and repeat.
Even the gear that I found along the way didn’t really seem to make too much difference to my perfect technique, it became a chore to sell all the random stuff I’d picked up from missions, especially as there is no way to sell all, or highlight large groups and mass sell things that way. Numerous times I accidentally sold a mythic level piece of equipment as I was mashing A just to get rid of the swaths of terrible commons.
Technical Issues – Please Stand By
Robothorium does feel like it has a home on the Switch though, especially in handheld mode, it’s great fun to just pick up and play-through a couple of missions whenever you get a spare hour in the day. Unfortunately the Switch version does come with it’s fair share of bugs.
The first bug I ran into was at the midway part of the game, I’d got my team set up they way I wanted and I was cruising through missions and side missions levelling up my robots and building new gear for them between mission. Sauntering my way through a story mission I came to a boss and set about applying my buffs for the first turn but when it got around to my opponents turn I guess the game was so afraid of all the extra damage and increased critical hits it was about to take and just ended the battle and the mission as if I’d won. Without me even firing a single shot.
And that was just the start, the second part of the game for me was full of missions that would just not give me the prompt to end the level. Even if I had explored everywhere, killed all the enemies and interacted with everything I could, I would be stuck endless wandering around an empty area. Worse, because of the constant auto-saving that Robothorium does in the back-ground the only way to get out of the area was to give up on the mission and do it all again from the start.
All in all, I did have fun with Robothorium. The soundtrack, which seems to be heavily inspired by the Deus Ex series, is sublime and the character and robot design is charming. Although it seems my galaxy brain completely solved the combat, I will definitely replay it with different variations of robot teams (on the hardest difficulty setting) to see what other fun broken combinations I can put together! Absolutely ideal for short pick up and play sessions in handheld mode during a lunch-break or commute to work. The only thing holding it back from scoring better is the high bug content in latter parts, which is a real shame and hopefully the devs manage to potentially patch them out in the future!
- Character/Robot design is delightful
- Highly re-playable
- Excellent soundtrack
- Combat can be trivial
- Game breaking bugs
Robothorium is a fun title unfortunately ham-stringed by pesky bugs.