Bigger than a nanite! Smaller than a trash can! Feistier than a vengeful princess! Jump, puzzle and shoot thru spaceships and their systems as vanguard robot ‘SLUG’. Raid vessels for your galactic debt collecting master in pristine pixel perfection.
What We Think
RobotRiot is a classic shooter/platformer reminiscent of a wide array of classics from the arcade era. The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who enjoyed retro titles like Contra or Megaman; you take control of a small robot with a rapid fire cannon, running, gunning and puzzling your way through various levels set on space ships. RobotRiot certainly ticks the retro box but does it bring anything new to the table?
The story of RobotRiot is relatively barebones, providing just enough exposition to give you a reason to be gunning down defence drones and guardsmen. A quick intro explains you’re working for a debt collector who has you boarding ships and disabling them for recovery. Perhaps not the noblest reasoning for an adventure but it’s certainly a unique one. After this you’re given the option of which ship to attack first. Each option comes with a brief tactical overview of the ship along with a difficulty estimation. This non-linear mission selection works well but it would benefit from the addition of an upgrades and currency system to give the player a greater sense of progression.
The graphics are retro with an unsurprisingly heavy sci-fi inspiration. The ships you explore are set apart by a few minor variations such as the colour of the background. The artwork is adequate to portray the environment but it doesn’t quite go quite far enough to keep each level fresh. It would have been great to have some more interesting ships as settings for the levels; an organic design, for example, would have stood out as a fun twist on the theme. The music and sound matches the retro aesthetic with a catchy ditty that sets the tone well while filling RobotRiot with that old style charm.
The gameplay itself focuses on a mixture of platforming, shooting and light puzzling. Each ship is full of enemies, lifts, traps and locked doors (which require coloured keys to open). The keyboard based controls on PC aren’t as elegant as a controller would be for the platforming aspects of the game but you can get by with them. Generally the combat is quite basic, with a few power-ups available to the player such as a shield, double shot and a spread shot. The latter two only stay active for a few shots, however, which seems a bit cruel given their scarcity.
Unfortunately RobotRiot doesn’t excel in either of the gameplay arenas it sets out in. The platforming is slow and lacks the pressure we’ve come to expect in modern titles from the genre and there aren’t many punishing falls that will give you that edge of your seat feeling some platformers do. The combat, meanwhile, is fairly rudimentary and doesn’t feature enough upgrades, weapons or variations to keep the game interesting. Each ship does feature a boss and this helps to alleviate the problem but it isn’t enough on its own to keep the action exciting.
RobotRiot is a well put together platformer/shooter with a decent non-linear selection of missions to offer. Retro graphics and music help to give the game some personality while short briefings and a simple introduction tie everything together with a minimalist narrative. The gameplay is enjoyable for a brief time but sadly it lacks the staying power to keep the player engaged. There isn’t enough innovation or content here to warrant a lot of interest. That said, the price is a reasonable £2.50 on the PC and RobotRiot could certainly serve well as an enjoyable short term distraction.