Many people who play games desire a combination of stimulants. They want a story, they want pretty pictures and they want to be engaged. Many of the most popular games really push this breakdown. Some games manage to balance all three. However, it is much more common (and no bad thing) that different games engage each element in different ways. Many of the current AAA titles strongly push pretty pictures with a dash of good story and engaging game play. Mobile titles often drop the story and graphics entirely for addictive mechanics. Finally, it is not uncommon for indie titles to lose the prettiest pictures to instead focus on the story and the game play. Today I will look at a game that has taken this to the extreme. This is the tale of “Choice of Robots.”
You have played some games which have what they describe as branching game play. This games story is the game. A branching story is all that it does.
As the title would indicate, this is a story that looks at a person’s life creating robots. It follows your character across many years while you make choices at key stages of your life. The choices are almost always meaningful and in many cases you can see the immediate consequences.
The story is very deep and explores themes not normally seen in games. It looks at death and choices with no clear results. This leads to a game where you never feel as though you are being pressured to tell a certain story, but instead you are released to create a character that behaves as you would, it reacts to situations more naturally The world is an unpredictable place. This story portrays it with a skill that I have not seen on many games at all.
It is also worth noting that for those who believe that they have made a particularly good story, you are able to export a summary of your actions in a story form. These, while not being as detailed as the normal play through, can still make for a quite good read.
The main game mechanic this game includes is that of dialogue choice. You are presented with a passage that tells part of the story and afterwards you are presented with a list of actions that you can do. You are never given any hints to what might occur as a consequence of your actions, nor are you given the ability to go back. You are telling, writing a story after all. Not all endings are happy.
This is not to say that the game is devoid of numbers and stats. In addition to choosing the basic direction that the game goes, you give your robot stats; empathy, military, autonomy and grace. These determine how others will interact with your robot. Your characters funds and relationship data is also monitored. In my runs through this game the stats were not something which I monitored or managed. The more completionist gamer may want to watch these in order to achieve the vast quantity of achievements or to get all the endings. But for someone who just wants to enjoy a simple game then these are not of the greatest importance.
Graphics and Sound
These is no sound and the graphics consists exclusively of text. This does not distract the player at all, nor does the monotonous nature of the screen detract from the enjoyable nature of the game.
As mentioned above this game does not so much have graphics or sound as it has a story. Having said this I can hear you all shouting “What settings can you ask for!!!!!” (I know you where thinking using five exclamation marks, you twisted people.)
Consider this, “Choice of Robots” is not a game for those who want to run into a room and gun down all the kittens, It is a perfect game for someone who wants to take a slightly easier pace to game. It is made for a more mature gamer. As such, I would consider it appropriate to include at least a FOV slider. Short of that, I think that something that allows players to adjust the font size in game would be wonderful and something to switch from black text on white to white text on black. These are definitely quality of life features, but for such a text heavy game I cannot help but think that this would make all the reading much easier for many players.
This is a good game that is well worth spending a few dollars on. It is available on Android, Steam and Apple. It is also available embedded on it’s own website. So feel free to try before you buy. This a game that doesn’t support a huge number of hours. It is aiming to let the player tell a story and it does that admirably. While it does support a good amount replayability, it will become a bit repetitive after about the third or forth time.
For those who do try it I would strongly encourage you to donate or buy. This kind of game does not make itself and to support a studio that can create such an engaging choose your own adventure will help us see more of this kind of thing in the future
A game that engages the player without having to pander to traditional assumptions of what a game can be. A game that pull off a fantastic story that plays out in not the way that you want, but the way that it does. This game deserves to be: