In Robots in the Wild you play as a ship full of robots that is traveling through outer space. Things are going fine until one day an asteroid hits the ship damaging it and ejecting most of the robots from the ship. Being in charge of the rescue ship it is your objective to gather up all of the robots that have crash landed on different planets before they fall victim to hostile creatures.
I will be honest with you and say that it is kind of hard to classify what type of game Robots in the Wild is. Robots in the Wild is a game that takes mechanics from several different genres to create a truly unique gameplay experience. When you first look at the game it kind of reminds you of Tetris. You are given blocks with shapes similar to Tetris on them and you control where the blocks fall from the sky. Then there are the puzzle mechanics where you need to arrange the blocks to create shapes that form a working robot. Next comes the tower defense mechanics as you build robots that can help defend your base against the attacking enemies. Finally there is an automation like mechanic where you can create a chain of interconnected robots.
The objective of each level in Robots in the Wild is to keep the robot heart safe for the designated number of nights until the rescue ship can arrive and rescue the heart. At the beginning of each level you are given a set of blocks. You can choose from one of five blocks to place onto the planet. You can choose which column to place the block in and you can rotate the block. Each block has a different shape on it including a 90 degree angle, a straight line, a four way line and a couple other shapes. In order to create a robot you need to connect these lines together in order to match one of the shapes that creates a robot. Once you match a shape it transforms into the corresponding robot. In order to get the robot working though you need to power it. The game includes robots that attack enemies, generate power, create other blocks, and perform many other actions.
While it might be hard to really classify what type of game it is, I enjoyed my time with Robots in the Wild. It really feels like no other game that I have ever played. It kind of feels like a puzzle game mixed with a tower defense game which just so happen to be two of my favorite video game genres. While that might sound like a strange combination of mechanics they work surprisingly well together.
What surprised me the most about Robots in the Wild was the fact that there is actually quite a bit of strategy in the game. With all of the different types of robots in the game (with more being added throughout the Early Access process) you have a lot of flexibility on how you want to address a given level. To succeed in the game you need to figure out a robot layout that works well for you. I will admit that this does take some time and you might struggle as you are trying to find a good layout. When you get used to the game though, there is so much potential flexibility as you mix and match robots to try and create a better layout.
One thing that adds a lot of the strategy to Robots in the Wild is the fact that you only have access to a limited amount of blocks in a level. Once you have used all of your blocks you have to wait until a new block generates which takes quite a bit of time. Since you are only given a certain number of blocks you need to be careful not to waste them since once you run out of blocks you aren’t able to do much outside of just sitting there waiting for new blocks. You will eventually unlock a robot that occasionally generates a block of your choosing. These robots are really helpful but they produce blocks pretty slowly so you still need to be careful with using the blocks that are given to you. The best way to salvage blocks that you can’t use are to drop identical shapes on top of each other since if you create a long enough chain you can actually get a bonus that produces additional blocks for you. Otherwise you have to plan ahead so you can try to use as many blocks as possible to create robots instead of wasting them.
While the lack of blocks adds a lot of strategy to the game, I think the biggest issue that I have with Robots in the Wild at this point is that the game keeps giving you the same blocks several times in a row. This is nice if you are looking for that type of block but creates some issues when the game refuses to give you the block that you want. When the game presents you with one of these situations you basically have to stack the blocks in order to destroy them and recoup the blocks. While the game somewhat corrects this with the robots that can create blocks, this issue still comes up too often in the game.
Another smaller issue I have with the game is that I wish the attacking towers were slightly tweaked. As soon as you build and power a robot that fires at enemies it starts firing. This would be nice except that they will fire even when they are behind other blocks/robots. Therefore if you don’t build the attacking robots in the furthest out columns they will start attacking your other blocks/robots. This means you basically need to create a tall line of attack robots on the outskirts of your base and hope that no enemies get behind that line of towers. I think the game should let you build attack robots behind other robots/blocks and these robots wouldn’t fire until there were no blocks or robots between them and the enemies. While you eventually get used to creating a tower of attacking robots, I think there would be more strategy in the game if you were able to build multiple lines of attacking towers.
While the story is clearly not finished at this point (only 16 of the 64 levels are currently in the game), I found the story/atmosphere to show a lot of potential. I found the game’s story and world to be quite charming. The game has an interesting world with unique characters, worlds and enemies.
At this point I would say that Robots in the Wild is surprisingly polished. While you will encounter the occasional graphical glitch and tiny bug, I have played the game for around four hours and I really haven’t encountered any gamebreaking issues. For a game just released in Early Access Robots in the Wild is already in good shape. While the game does not have all of the robots, levels, or enemies that the final game will have, the game is perfectly playable in its’ current state. Outside of the small glitches, if I didn’t know that the game was an Early Access game I wouldn’t have thought it was.
While the game is going to add a lot more content during the Early Access period, I actually think the game already has quite a bit of content. At this point I have played the game for around four hours and I have completed around half of the levels. I would guess that it would take most players around 6-8 hours to play through all of the levels currently in the game. Robots in the Wild also has a challenge mode where you can create your own challenges to practice the game. If you like creating your own challenges you could probably get a decent amount of time out of the challenge mode as well.
While it is still in Early Access I have to say that I am already impressed with Robots in the Wild. The game is not perfect yet but it is already a fun game. Robots in the Wild is really unlike any other game that I have ever played. While it might not seem like it at first but all of the different mechanics in Robots in the Wild actually work well together. It takes a while to develop a strategy for the game but I really liked how many options the game gives you for building your base. Even in this early stage I can see a lot of potential for the game. While the developer is planning on adding a lot of content to the game, outside of a few glitches here and there, the game feels much more polished than a lot of Early Access games.
While I really enjoyed my time with Robots in the Wild, I know that the game probably won’t appeal to everyone. If you don’t really like puzzle games or the premise doesn’t really appeal to you, you probably won’t like Robots in the Wild. If the game sounds interesting to you though I think you will really like Robots in the Wild.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Heatbox Games for the review copy of Robots in the Wild used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review.