Puzzle Bots (PC Review)

Game Review: Puzzle Bots
Release: 6/1/2010
Genre: Adventure / Puzzle
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Available Platforms: PC
Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E3+

It’s exploration time in Dr. Hugo’s laboratory, and in Wadjet Eye Games’ Puzzle Bots, you will see the world through the eyes of five  incredibly innocent (yet mischievous), wonderfully funny and irresistibly adorable little robots.  Whether you’re exploring the dangers of an office kitchen, the creepy charm of a doll house, or the adventure filled cluttered desk of an inventor, you will soon realize that taking everyday, familiar locales that seem cramped to us and making them larger than life to pint sized robots is what makes this game so charming. You will work through your robot friends to accessorize your robot pad, fix broken toys, explore the insides of robot lunch-ladies, and ultimately uncover a sinister plot going on in the laboratory.

To accomplish this, you’ll be navigating through a variety of settings with your mouse pointer.  You’ll be able to interact with objects by clicking them, and depending on which robot you are currently using, you’ll be able to do everything, including picking up and pushing items, lighting things on fire, towing items underwater and yes, even blowing objects up with bombs.  The robots execute their commands with happy chirps and witty quips, and you will often find yourself clicking on things you know a robot can’t interact with just to see how they’ll tell you they can’t.

This interaction describes the game’s theme as a whole: it’s a light-hearted adventure that’s both funny and cute.  The game never takes itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t well put together.  The voice acting is quite good (intentionally campy but not in a way that makes it bad), and the sounds and music are suitable. The puzzles are fun and, for the most part, simple.  You will often use the robots as a team to tackle puzzles, utilizing their individual skills to accomplish complex tasks.   The game plays quickly (you’ll likely finish it in a few hours) but playing this game with a child will certainly lengthen that experience.  The game does a great job of introducing new techniques with each robot, as you will go through a training session with the robot and their creator, and the first group puzzle after that training usually emphasizes the learned skills.

It’s not hard to attach yourself to your little robot buddies either.  The first one you control, appropriately named Hero, will suck you in with his cute little charm, and you’ll be hooked from then on.   And that’s the niche for this game: its story is predictable, the gameplay is basic and the puzzles aren’t stressful, but the sheer fun you’ll have playing through the levels ensures you’ll play from start to finish in one sitting without wanting to leave.   Seeing the robots take on their inventor’s personalities, watching how everyone interacts with each other, and seeing what crazy misadventure Hero gets his friends into (and his human creators out of) are the strengths of this game.  I also liked how the game’s hint feature was a button that recharges over time, allowing you to reuse it without abusing it; not that you’ll usually need it.

And it’s probably a good thing you won’t need hints too often, because they aren’t always particularly useful.  I’m all for not giving the game away through hints (I actually support hints that don’t walk you from A to B), but there’s a difference between not giving the answer and not giving ANY answer.  I must have clicked the hint button 20 times on the final puzzle of the game just hoping the robots would take pity on me and say something other than the extremely not helpful response they were giving.  The story, while funny and cute, is predictable.  There is also no replay value in the game, as once you beat it, there’s nothing else to do.  The puzzles and story are what you play this for, and unfortunately for those of us who loved both, once you see it once, you’ve seen it all.

vttym’s take: Of course, if you’re considering a puzzle game, you know you get a one-shot deal on playability. You play puzzle games because they’re fun, they offer a challenge, and they let your explore new worlds.  Puzzle Bots knocks it out of the park with a fun, charming and witty adventure through creative levels that are well designed.  This game is both approachable and enjoyable by people of all ages; a feat not easily accomplished.  All told, if you don’t like this game, you probably don’t like puppies, laughing children, or birthday cakes either.  Do your soul a favor and play this game.

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