Don’t Die, Mr Robot! – Review

Title   Don't Die, Mr Robot!
Developer  Infinite State Games
Publisher  Infinite State Games
Platform  PlayStation Vita
Genre  Dodge-em-up
Release Date  November 5, 2014
Official Site

Don’t Die, Mr Robot! is a retro-flavoured, dodge ‘em up that adds to the PS Vita’s list of fantastic indie titles.  It’s a top-down affair that sees you playing as the titular Mr Robot as he weaves his way through wave after wave of baddies all intent on giving him some lethal body contact.  Unfortunately, this is no twin-stick shooter and Mr Robot is unarmed. To help out though, fruit drops on to the playfield at regular intervals and picking these up causes an explosion which will kill nearby enemies but also, crucially, will set off other fruits in the vicinity setting up chain reactions which lead to bigger scores.  The question is whether or not you take the safe option and grab the fruits quickly to keep the screen clearer or if you save them all up for a big, filthy combo.  It’s the classic risk vs reward element and I love that kind of thing.

That said, this isn’t a new concept.  That core gameplay mechanic is exactly the same as Every Extend Extra’s explodey combo system but unlike that game, which had a real problem with being too easy, the difficulty here is pitched perfectly.  Don’t Die, Mr Robot! doesn’t demand lifelong training under the cruel tutelage of Robotron, but neither does it give up the big scores without a fight.  It’s just right.

Aside from the basic Arcade mode detailed above, there is also Time Attack (which gives you a handy two and a half minutes to score as big as possible) and Chill Out (which slows the action down, leading to a more sedate and tactical game).  Both modes are equally enjoyable and help add a little variation to proceedings.  The real longevity however comes from Don’t Die, Mr Robot!’s Remix mode which gives you fifty stages to play through, each adding different objectives (such as scoring points, surviving for as long as possible, or collecting items) while messing with the game rules in interesting ways (limiting how you move or how objects in the game act).

Remix Mode is great fun and harrowingly addictive thanks to its medal system.  I’m not too fussed by trophies but I’m aiming for gold medals on every Remix level and it’s basically making me late for EVERYTHING. Don’t Die, Mr Robot!’s presentation is clean and unobtrusive.  There are hints at neo-retro excess with futuristic coloured backdrops (and obligatory techno beats) but the sprites have a clean, Adobe Flash kind of look so you always know what is going on.  Death is never unfair even if the controls are very slightly twitchy.

During most modes, detonating enemies drops coins which can be used to purchase outfits, new playable characters and power-ups.  Now, I’m not a fan of power-ups that you buy for one playthrough at a time in score-based games.  It completely ruined Bejeweled Blitz for me on iOS and I’d rather everyone was on a level playing field when scoring is involved but there aren’t too many choices on offer and the power-ups are very cheap so it’s not a big deal here.  Remix Mode removes power-ups anyway.

I’m a huge fan of the Vita and that is completely down to the wealth of excellent indie titles available for it and Don’t Die, Mr Robot! makes it comfortably into my top ten list, if not higher.  The best Vita games are perfectly suited to the format and that is definitely the case here.

  • Addictive gameplay
  • Clean presentation
  • Perfect for the Vita
  • Excellent difficulty level
  • Lacks variation
  • Controls may be a tad sensitive for some
  • Slightly pointless power-up system

Don’t Die, Mr Robot! is a charming arcade title that gets almost everything right. This is good, old-fashioned skill-based gaming that doesn’t demand that you are the next Billy Mitchell. Instead it just invites you in for some pick up and play gaming. And then it locks the door and refuses to let you go.

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