Robots Under Attack!
Developed By: Dmytro Derybas
Published By: Dmytro Derybas
Category: Action, Arcade, Puzzle
Release Date: 01.14.20
Robots Under Attack! for the Nintendo Switch is the inaugural release from Ukrainian single-person indie developer Dmytro Derybas. It’s a bow-and-arrow based physics puzzler somewhat reminiscent of classic physics puzzle games like Angry Birds, but with its own unique array of gameplay mechanics. It has a simple, but fun, visual style that looks like scribbles on graph paper that manages to be attractive and clear despite its lack of complexity. The music is similarly simple, but kind of catchy without being obnoxious. But really, this isn’t a game anyone’s going to pick up for the art direction; this game is all about the puzzles.
The object of the game is to destroy all the robots in every level using your bow. You set your bow within an area marked by a red dotted line and pull back on the string to arm it. The bow can be controlled with the Switch’s touchscreen, a controller, or the Joycon’s motion controls. The touchscreen or controller were my preferred methods; the motion controls were a little too finicky for me, but it’s cool to see an indie game take the time to find a way to integrate them. You have four different types of arrows; normal arrows, flaming arrows, heavy arrows, and missile arrows. Different types of arrows can interact with different objects in the levels, and finding the right combo of interactive objects in the right order is the key to progressing through the game.
For instance, heavy arrows can press large switches or roll large balls. Hitting switches can turn lasers on or off or open gates, among other things. Over the course of the game’s 100 levels, you’ll have to manipulate elevators, lasers, buzzsaws, bombs, explosive barrels, crates, pistons, portals, gates, and gravity reversing switches, just to name a few. The hardest part of the game is anticipating the arc of your arrows; they don’t fly straight, which is to be expected – that’s how arrows work. It can be a little annoying to just miss a switch because you were one degree off, but it’s not that big a deal; you can reset the level pretty much instantaneously with the push of a button.
Each level has a limited number of arrows available at its start. You don’t need to use every arrow to complete a level, however; in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Having arrows left over at the end of a level nets you that level’s star as well as a little extra pocket money. The star doesn’t seem to have any impact on gameplay, but money can be used to purchase new styles of bow, which, uh, also don’t really impact gameplay. New bows are only cosmetic changes, but what the heck. I’m a sucker for unlockables, and Robots Under Attack! is no exception. The levels themselves are well-designed puzzles, if sometimes a little straightforward. Some puzzles really gave me trouble, but unfortunately it wasn’t always because the puzzle itself was tricky.
The game’s physics can be pretty finicky; sometimes after knocking a ball off a ledge the ball just sits there instead of bouncing off the wall or rolling in the direction where its momentum should have carried it like it’s supposed to. Hiccups like this in the game’s physics system were constantly deflating my spirits during gameplay, sometimes making the puzzles more frustrating than challenging. Furthermore, sometimes explosions inexplicably leave robots with like 1% health, so you have to restart the level and try again even if you figured out the trick to the level. Small but fairly frequent issues like this greatly diminish what is an otherwise pleasant experience.
Overall, though, Robots Under Attack! is a fun but relatively short experience. Outside of a few frustrations with the physics system, I flew through the game pretty quickly. I beat many of the game’s 100 puzzles in less than a minute; in roughly my first hour with the game, I made it to the 69th level, which is the first one that really gave me any trouble (the solution was ridiculously simple. I had forgotten that you could shoot an arrow with less velocity if you don’t pull the bow all the way back – though this is the only puzzle I can recall that relies on that mechanic). I beat the remaining puzzles in around half an hour. Still, it’s an inexpensive physics puzzle game with a neat bow-and-arrow mechanic that will keep you entertained – or at least distracted – for a few hours.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes.