[Review] Robots under attack! – Nintendo Switch

Written by Stephen Hunter
  • Developer: Dmytro Derybas
  • Publisher: Dmytro Derybas
  • Release Date: 14/01/2020
  • Price: £4.99 / $5.99
  • Review code provide by Dmytro Derybas

CREATIVITY CAPTURED

As a lifelong gamer like so many others, it’s really not hard to see why indie games have blown up the way they have, and become so beloved by many of us. We tend to see these games made by small teams, and there’s generally a lot of genuine love, care, and passion poured into these games. Robots under attack! is certainly no exception. But factor in the fact that this game is made by just two people (one developer, and one tester), in just two months, and it just becomes all the more impressive! 

But I particularly love the presentation here. It’s as if they developed the entire game doodling on old school maths books. The square graph pad provides the background, and then everything within the game has this hand drawn charming look about it, like everything was drawn with a biro whilst bored in a school lesson.

SIMPLE BUT VERY SATISFYING

Sometimes games don’t need a story, or fancy cutscenes, or a ton of achievements to accomplish. Once you trim that fat away, there is just the game itself, and that’s the part we’re all interested in. Now whilst this game doesn’t push or break any boundaries, it does exactly what it sets out to do extremely well with its gameplay.

I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of puzzle games, in my personal experience with this genre, I find developers generally struggle to get the balance right between difficulty, and sense of achievement. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve solved a difficult puzzle through trial and error, or simply fumbling onto the solution, which often leads to a feeling of frustration during the puzzle, and a sense of relief, rather than accomplishment upon completing it. Robots under attack finds this balance perfectly with both the puzzles themselves, and the simple gameplay mechanics around it.

PUZZLE PERFECTION?

Gameplay goes as follows, fire arrows, destroy all robots, win. But how creative this game gets with puzzle/level design, and the one simple mechanic of firing arrows, is fantastic. To begin with, we have four types of arrows: simple, fire, heavy, and explosive. They all work differently, and effect the level in different ways, so how you use these arrows most effectively is as much a part of the puzzle, as the actual puzzle itself. Then factor in that each level only gives you so many types of these arrows to use, and a limited number of said arrows, really brings forward the logical thinking you need to progress. I really like the fact that the cursor changes depending on which arrow you have selected. It’s a clever little way to remember what is selected without having to check the menu.

On top of arrows, you have the mechanics within the puzzles themselves: Gravity switches, buttons for various effects, portals, explosive barrels, etc. These generally effect the level itself in some way, and more often than not, leads to you needing to chain these effects together in the correct order. It is so satisfying when you figure out the solution, and watch these chain reactions come together, it really makes the player feel that sense of accomplishment.

A big reason for feeling that satisfaction, is down to the great level designs, as well as the player discovering the solution. There is a lot of variety within the levels, considering they just juggle around the limited mechanics they have. Some levels require pure logic, others require trial and error, (but this trial and error always makes you feel like you’re progressing towards the solution itself), and then other levels require inch perfect shots from your arrows. Or in some cases blends all these kinds of levels together, which brings about a whole different type of elation. I found myself constantly feeling smart and skilled whilst playing this game. There is also a restart button which instantly starts the puzzle over, no loading times whatsoever, this makes the game very addicting, you constantly feel that urge to keep playing until you’ve solved it.

FANTASTIC BUT NOT FLAWLESS

I do quite clearly have high praise for this game, but there are just a few niggly issues to point out. Firstly, this game supports motion control, it even introduces it in the tutorial level, but I don’t recommend it at all. I tried it in both table-top and docked mode, to find that regardless it feels heavy, clunky, and overall unresponsive. Then we have trajectory issues. Firing arrows at full pelt works perfectly, but in the very few select levels where you need to hold back on the power to angle arrows over obstacles etc, that was quite frustrating. It feels like the arrows are far heavier than you’d expect them to be, and getting to balance that power and trajectory just right was a real pain. There are also very minor physics issues. This only happened two or three times, but sometimes certain chain reactions just wouldn’t work right for me. One example was where I had to shoot a ball, to make it roll into a switch, then have it bounce off that switch to fall onto a lower platform and roll into another switch. For whatever reason it wouldn’t fall onto the lower platform as intended, it just finally happened after a few attempts.

It feels a little unfair to count the two boss battles this game has as a flaw. They break up the gameplay well enough, and they’re both charming in their presentation. But their execution is so lacklustre. Whilst the puzzles always feel satisfying with the skill and chain reactions I mentioned. The bosses are basically, wait for the defences to drop, then shoot. For all the creativity shown in the overall game, the bosses have a charming design, but oversimplified solutions to defeating them, making them more of an unnecessary distraction than anything else. I’d rather they included more and interesting bosses, or left them out altogether. 

My last ‘complaint’ is the shop. After every level, you will receive a certain amount of money depending on your performance, and how many arrows you had left over. With this money you can visit the shop to buy bow cosmetics and nothing else. Whilst this is fine, I just wanted a little more. Even if it was a bow that gave you a line of trajectory to make the game easier, or made simple arrows deal more damage to robots, something to that effect would have been appreciated.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Robots under attack is fantastic, but not perfect. Playing it can become a little addictive, and you’ll find you’ll never be able to put it down without completing that last puzzle you’re on, even in the later stages where it gets more difficult, it’s never frustrating, and with that instant restart feature, it’s so easy to spur yourself on.

Yes, it has some minor issues. But all its great aspects completely outweigh the nit-picks I have, and I can’t recommend this game enough if you’re after a simple and satisfying puzzle game to eat away at your spare time. It’s very low price point only makes it even more appealing. Go and get this game!

Pros

  • Fantastic Unique Presentation
  • Intuitive Satisfying Gameplay
  • Great Puzzle/Level Design

Cons

  • Lacklustre boss battles
  • Poor Motion Controls
  • Minor Physics issues

Verdict
Fantastic pick up and play puzzle game, with a great and unique presentation that’s cheap as chips.
4/5

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