Bad Bots, Bad Bots. Whatcha Gonna Do? (Bad Bots Review)
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Lock and load, folks! It’s time for a look at Bad Bots, the new indie game released by Point 5 Projects this month, just waiting for your itchy trigger finger. This little action-packed side-scrolling shooter gives players a chance to battle it out in deep space, through over 170 rooms filled to the brim with evil fighting robots. Do you have what it takes to outsmart the very AI you depend upon? Let’s find out!
Your name is Sam McRae, and you find yourself alone on the Titan Hauler, which has been taken over by the very robots and AI that used to serve upon it. You wake up in the ship’s trash compactor, and uncover a robot companion who conveniently fits on your back and happens to know important information about the robots’ nefarious plans. He was ripped out of his console, immobilized, and thrown into the trash because he refused the mutiny with them. Now it’s up to you and your new buddy to uncover the bigger plot afoot, and save your lives (and potentially the world) in the meantime.
Game mechanics are often tricky, and Bad Bots tries to simplify your life by using nothing more than the WASD keys to move, the E key to open doors or use lifts, the space bar to switch weapons, and your mouse buttons to use said weapons against your enemies. Clicking the left mouse button will fire any guns you pick up, while the right mouse button will be for using the axe. While the axe is a weapon, it is also handy to open crates and find ammo, or health! Unfortunately, you won’t have any way to select a difficulty or change your keys in this game whatsoever, which may frustrate some players into opting out of the game altogether. The upside to this setup is that it’s easy to pick up on; the downside is that its simplicity can be aggravating.
While you’re fighting the robots, or the bosses, you’ll notice that you will aim with your mouse button, and that the side of Sam your mouse is on is the way he will face. What happens is, if you’re moving around with WASD and decide to go jump a ledge or open something, you’ll have to stop what you’re doing, move the mouse into position, and try again. This wouldn’t be a problem if moving around constantly was the way to survive many of the rooms you enter – especially the boss fights. While there are only seven boss fights, moving around a lot is often key, and getting confused with the way you’re facing is the last thing you need to worry about. An example of this would be when fighting Jack Hammer. He has gigantic guns for arms, and if you’re not facing him when he starts to attack, it’s likely you’ll be staring at a Game Over. While the developers tried to add a little flair, even with the brief stints of epic boss battles, the robot mobs you meet along the way are recycled versions of themselves, and you’ll find there is one way to beat all them: stand in a corner and fire. Even robots that are hiding behind crates will cower at the awesomeness of your gun power as you just pick them off whenever they stand up. This can make the game tiring and monotonous, regardless of how enthusiastic the angry robots try to be (with the bloody weapons, the angry faces and all).
Visually, the game plays like a lot of indie games in the genre: slightly pixelized art designed specifically to look older than it actually is. The cutscenes are an upgraded version of the in-game graphics with an almost comic book feel to them, adding an endearing quality to an otherwise predictable and linear storyline. It’s a hat tip to the classic shoot-‘em-up games from the late 80s to early 90s, with a bit more vibrancy to its colouring and clarity to the detailing on the characters. The game isn’t too in-your-face realistic, or too cartoony to take seriously. It’s a great mix of realism and fantasy that gives this game its appeal.
If a good beat in the background is something that you need to keep you moving in a game, you won’t find it in Bad Bots. Even though the Options Menu has a “Music On/Off” option, most of the game you’ll run around with nothing but the basic sound effects of the robots, or your guns. If the Menu had specified sound instead of music, it would be much less confusing for players. In fact, there’s music when you are in the Menu screen, and as soon as you enter the game it comes to an abrupt stop. This left me playing with the Options, trying to figure out what was wrong with the game. It’s a very odd choice on the part of Point 5 Projects, as they only put music in during cutscenes or the Main Menu, which makes most of the gameplay sound irritating to the ears, as the repetitive buzzes, clunks, and “pew pews” stand out when there is nothing else to compliment them.
Monotonous mobs and lack of background music aside, the game itself is fairly simple in nature, which can make it easier to adjust to changes. While there is a lot of action, there is not a lot of think-work involved in clearing out the general mobs on your way to a real fight. Picking the game up and turning your brain off, just to watch the electronic body parts fly can be a great way to unwind without challenging yourself too much and stress-quitting. You also won’t have to worry about extra menus in the game, or even a bunch of inventory to fumble with. What you see is what you get: two guns, one axe, ammo/health boosts, and a bunch of targets in the form of metal people! When you break it down: Bad Bots is perfect for a $9.99, ‘bored on the weekend’ kind of distraction.
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