Back in the summer of 2010, I was fortunate enough to attend that year’s E3. While there, one of the highlights was that I got to meet Erin Robinson. She is one of the few indie developers who actively tries to keep the adventure game genre alive. What was special about that year was that she was talking about her game, Puzzle Bots, and meeting folks at the Indiecade booth. Fast forward a couple of years and it has only been recently that I got my hands on that said game.
Puzzle Bots takes place at Dr. Hugo’s Factory for Making Robots. You see, there are five inventors who work there and their job is to invent, well, robots. One by one, they invent their own robot and their robots go on adventures inside and outside the factory. And they witness various events occurring around them and misinterpret them. To write any more would ruin the story.
Since this is an adventure game, the controls are quite simple. You move the mouse around the screen and click on hotspots. The robots will then interact (and react) to the world around them. Furthermore, each robot has his (or her) special skills: Hero lifts items up, Ultrabot pushes things, Kelvin burns things, Ibi swims and drags items and Bombchelle, well, blows things up.
On the whole, the game is on the easy end of the spectrum — for an adventure game. Unlike many games in the genre, Puzzle Bots is setup as rooms and each room is its own puzzle. There is no need to perform the “adventure game shuffle:” look at a puzzle, go somewhere else, solve a different puzzle and return to the original task at hand. Everything is self-contained, which gives the game traditional puzzle genre feel.
The graphics continue this theme as well. It’s set-up as an old-school Saturday morning cartoon. As such, the levels are bright and colorful. There are the laboratories, a garden, playhouses and a factory. A jack-in-the-box springs to life when the handle is pushed. Sometimes the animation is a bit “jerky.” What is meant by that statement is that the characters will not smoothly move from point A to point B. Instead, they’ll go to a point in between them, turn, move a bit, turn, move and complete the action. Though I admit it is a little weird by modern standards, it fits perfectly with its old-school credentials.
Sound wise, the basic noises are a bit generic. The music, while not memorable, fits the chipper mood and nicely fits the game’s laid back pace. What really shines is the voice acting. It’s downright awesome and makes the game’s silly plot hilarious. Without it, the game would be a hollow shell.
And if any of this interests you, then you seriously owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Puzzle Bots. Yes, compared to the massive majority of adventure games on the market this one is on the easy and short side. Here’s the thing, it is just an enjoyable romp. Come for the simple and accessible gameplay, stay because the writing is funny and the game is well made. For a game that costs five bucks on Desura, this should help Miss Robinson garner a stronger following. Whatever project she and her crew release next, I look forward to it.