Not The Robots – What We Think:
Something ominous has happened over at the SolarGroup company. There are no humans in sight and robots now roam their office buildings. You, a robot with the ability to eat furniture, must sneak through levels and get as far as you can before you die.
This is a game that forces you to be stealthy and you can’t just run past everything while quickly accomplishing objectives. You have to be smart because you only get one life. You have to be patient because being seen means a quick–and most of the time–inescapable death.
You control the robot by using WASD, crouch with the Shift key, use abilities with the right mouse button, and eat furniture using the space bar (though I personally found that remapping the eat button to the left mouse button made for a more comfortable experience). Once you get the hang of it, controlling the robot and eating furniture becomes second nature. You learn how to quickly maneuver though levels and around obstacles. The gameplay itself is not necessarily deep, which is not a knock against the game. It’s designed that way on purpose and aims to create variety filled environments for players to explore.
Ahead by a Sentry
The levels are structured around getting from building to building. Each structure has two randomly generated levels that contain laser traps, wall traps, floor traps and/or Sentries. Sentries are deadly, relentless, mobile robotic heads that will shoot you on sight and are far more conniving than any level trap you’ll encounter. Traps and Sentries help add some variety to levels, though they could have used more since after a couple of hours, levels start to feel the same.
Literally Chewing the Scenery
Your main objective in every level is to eat enough furniture in order to fill your food bar, once filled, the lift to the next level opens up. A couple of hours in, you are introduced to additional goals that might randomly present themselves in levels. For example: Floor switches that need to be pressed in a specific sequence in order to progress to the next floor. Another objective that might show up in levels is an item that tags enemies and traps. This item requires you to tag every enemy and trap in the level in order to proceed.
Besides filling the food bar, levels usually contain only one of these other gameplay objectives. These different objectives mix up what you are doing in the game, but I wanted more objectives besides these three. The game would have been a lot more fun to replay with a wide variety of different types of objectives.
Block of the Walk
In each level you can eat blue blocks that give you abilities. These passive or active abilities give you a slight increased fighting chance. Most items you can acquire are active abilities that can be triggered once and refill after you’ve eaten enough furniture to recharge that ability. These powers range from giving you temporary invisibility to giving you a an armor buff. The majority of the abilities are more defensive than offensive. In fact, there is only one offensive ability: a deploy-able trap you can place which disables moving sentries for a short time.
These abilities do a decent job of mixing things up. Some abilities, like sprinting, I found to be useless. I really only found that only three or four abilities were useful in my sneaky endeavors. I also felt the game would have benefited more from more offensive abilities. I know it would have undermined the game’s stealth motif, but it would have been nice to have those options, because the game can get difficult.
Green No Longer
Sometimes levels will contain green boxes that will give you bonuses. These boxes usually require the other objectives in the level to be completed. Once collected they level help level up your permanent upgrades. Every time you die you level up your permanent upgrades. Most of these upgrades make the game more difficult by making traps deadlier. Sometimes it will upgrade your robot by giving you permanent armor upgrades or more ability slots. There are twenty one of these upgrades and you get them all within five to six hours of game time.
While playing you’ll sometimes encounter glowing laptops. When eaten, these laptops will play an audio diary recorded by someone who worked at the company. For the most part, these diaries are well written and well acted. They offered back story on what went on at this company and do a good job of keeping you engaged. The audio diaries were by far the most enjoyable part of the game for me. They offered me a reason to keep playing. I wanted to find more but was left with more questions and more curiosity after acquiring the final diary.
The bass-heavy, ominous music helps create a great atmosphere while making sneaking around more enjoyable, transitioning smoothly into a more frantic arrangement when you are spotted by a patrolling Sentry or upon changes to your current health. The soundtrack provides a tense experience as it shifts and changes as you play. The sound design across the board is fantastic.
Visually the game mimics the modern, dull, office building aesthetics. Levels will have colored floors and appropriate furniture but they never feel like real office buildings. Instead they feel like office buildings with furniture randomly placed everywhere. It would have been nice to venture to other places besides an office building. As I played I was hoping I’d eventually venture outside or into a completely different location because I was getting tired of the office building locale.
Do The Robot
If you are looking for a challenging, randomly-generated stealth game, you might like Not The Robots. There aren’t many stealth games that use this method for level creation, and this game is a good one-even though I feel like for a randomly generated game you start to see all of what it’s able to randomly create fairly quickly. Not The Robots needed more variety in order to be something truly great but offers just enough variety to be entertaining.