Recently, I’ve been going through a stage where I was worn out on the deep gaming experiences and found myself craving the classical fare of simple games with little-to-no story and plenty of action. Shoot Many Robots, coincidentally came out at the height of this period. Normally, I would write a reflex review soon after my first major session with the game, but I haven’t played the game for about two weeks now. After revisiting my experience, I found Shoot Many Robots very difficult to rate as I found it both extremely satisfying and quite frustrating depending on what aspects I was focusing on.
Rage Against the Machines
SMR is a game set in the very near future after a Terminator like apocalypse occurs, filling the Earth (or at least rural North America) with legions of bug-like robots. You take on the roll of a hillbilly named Walter who is trying to overthrow these mechanical horrors, equipped with an RV full of beer and a weapon/clothing cache that would make even the most afflicted Skyrim hoarder jealous. From there, the game is a simple run and gun platformer that tasks you with, well shooting many robots.
The game’s B-movie grade storyline mixes well with its old school approach to gameplay and the incredibly diverse customization options. These options open up for both weapons (a primary and super weapon) and costuming (head gear, shirts and pants) and make it worthwhile to grind through stage after stage trying to earn enough currency (bolts in this case) to buy the next tier of awesomeness. Truth be told, when I first approached this game I found that purchasing new gear was pretty addicting, but the path to getting these delightful little bullet spewing, stat increasing nuggets did grow stale after a while.
The stages and enemies share a similar theme with this review in that they are really cool and exciting at first, but they don’t really change much throughout your time with the game and your state of mind has a lot to do with whether or not you‘ll get into it. This may be the result of the fact that there are many stages in Shoot Many Robots, all of which borrow from the same pot of level designs and enemies. I guess the opposite could be true and the content could be on the light side, but it begs the question is it better to be sick of a good thing or long for more?
It’s All About the Points, Bro
Now, while what I said may seem like a knock against the design it is all based on two distinct gaming mentalities that I happened to have and not anything inherently wrong with SMR. While I would have loved for there to be as much diversity in the enemies and levels as there was in the equipment, this is a game about high scores and blue-collar grinding. The game features a chain kill mechanic that multiplies the amount of bolts you collect, which then correlates to a score at the end of the stage (from 1-5 stars). Earning stars opens up new levels and new levels mean new gear, more difficulty and the sense of accomplishment that you feel by helping rid the world of the many robots.
To really get those most out of the game in both score and satisfaction, you need to avoid being methodical about traversing the overrun landscapes and more or less go balls to the wall in approaching the challenges. Because of how the high score mechanic works, speed is essential and this is why this game was perfect for me when I first played the game. I needed the type of excitement one can only get after shutting off half of his brain or watching a Michael Bay film and SMR gave me that. Once my brain decided it wanted to be a part of my gaming escapades again, the thirst for this sensation went into hibernation.
During my first play through, I really didn’t notice the repetitiveness of the game’s structure and actually enjoyed the somewhat mindless destruction that was occurring. Jumping, shooting and punching bullets was soothing, but this is a game best taken in short doses and at times when you just don’t want to navigate another dialog wheel. Any sort of long term connection with this game will come in the form of goofing around in multiplayer and/or besting the leaderboards. That being said, I blew my load early on this game and almost sickened myself with the zombie like trance I put myself into the first few days I owned SMR. (Come to think of it, perhaps I should investigate any connections the developer might have with a certain fictional pharmaceutical company.)
I wouldn’t diagnose myself with split personality disorder at this point, but Shoot Many Robots does make one ponder the way the mind works or at least my particular brain. On one hand, the game satisfies the urge to destroy bad guys and reap the ensuing rewards, but the workman like way this is accomplished may cause problems for more cerebral gamers or those in the mood for depth. Should you be the type that loves grinding for gear and high scores (like I sometimes am) or need an easy cooperative fix then Demiurge Studios’ Shoot Many Robots is for you. Be warned, however as you may feel like a robot yourself after the experience is over.
Reflex Review – Like a memorable meal, some games make a big enough impression that you’ve got to tell other people about them before they’re fully digested.