Nestled deep in an undisclosed forest location stands a robotics factory where five young inventors are hard at work on their latest project. Under the directive of Dr. Hugo, this group has been tasked with constructing five miniature robots, each with their own unique abilities and design. Though the details are murky, Dr. Hugo simply advised that these robots are to be made for the purpose of carrying out chores. But there is obviously another purpose that has yet to be revealed and the inventors find themselves engulfed in a mystery as the first android opens its eyes to the world of man.
In Wadjet Eye’s Puzzle Bots we are well reminded that when it comes to puzzles, sometimes simple is best. As involving as it is to engage in the puzzles of other games that are either trivia based or needing a pencil and paper, nothing beats the good old fashioned approach of just using intuition to figure things out with the instruments we are given.
You begin the misadventure as Hero, the first mini-bot to be awakened, with the ability to pick up objects and use them accordingly. As the game progresses, the other four robots are introduced one by one: Ultrabot, a tank-bodied droid with an aptitude for pushing heavy objects, Kelvin, a mini-flamethrower toting cyborg, Ibi, an aquatic robot that tows objects underwater and transforms into a marble for land travel, and Bomchelle, guess what she does? Due to Hero’s insatiable curiosity, the robots find themselves constantly escaping their mini-habitat and exploring their inventors’ campus inside and out to learn more about the world. Each scenario is designed with a get from point A to B objective and the puzzles come in the form of conquering obstacles along the way.
The puzzles are very enjoyable to solve all thanks to the fact that only certain parts can be overcome by a robot with the appropriate skill, thus there is no one in the group that can be dismissed as being useless. For example, only Ibi can dive underwater without the risk of short circuiting, Hero is the only robot that can carry key items, Ultrabot’s ability is ideal for creating makeshift bridges, while Kelvin can mend broken wires with heat and Bomchelle handles demolition. For the most part, the puzzles are easy to solve and the hidden bonus items are also just as easy to find. Just in case one does get stumped on a problem, the hint button is always there to provide clues without giving away too much. It’s only towards the end that the difficulty takes on a noticeable increase and objectives become vague. Regardless, because of the clever gameplay design, the experience is very entertaining.
Though the robots take up more of the spotlight than their human counterparts we can breathe a sigh of relief that this is not an adventure with borrowed elements from Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh. The story, much like the game’s puzzle concept, is a bit simplistic at best with it divided between the robots’ quests and the days in lives of the inventors. Whereas there is nothing wrong with the robots’ developments, the human side is riddled with hit or miss gimmicks including dialogue ranging from semi-humorous to downright cheesy and a Dawson’s Creek styled triangle romance complete with surprise make-out sessions. Personally, I don’t have a problem watching game characters sucking face but to see it in a game that seems to be mostly geared towards children it certainly throws an unbecoming wrench into the works.
The game seems childish with dated cartoon graphics and an upbeat digital soundtrack. But, this provides a nice throwback to ‘90s PC gaming which is most delightful. The music unfortunately tends to skip when the game loads up and during scene transitions. The voice acting is best described as suitable, though there were moments where the creators could’ve done a better job in editing as shouted lines result in distorted output and left without adjustment. Also noted is the bloopers extra feature found in the game where all the reels have duplicate entries that play nothing, but overall nothing to really complain about as the only people that would find them funny are the ones heard laughing in the background during recording. If not best left out, these bloopers can be ignored entirely. Thankfully none of these elements affect the gameplay thus, like how the creators may have approached them during final editing, they can be overlooked.
The game’s only real drawback is that it’s very short. In just one sitting, and almost never saving once, you can complete it. The game’s length unwittingly turns it into a double edged sword, brandished well to deliver consistent fun but as soon as it abruptly ends one is left feeling truly disheartened. We can only hope that Wadjet Eye has plans for either a sequel or possibly another puzzle game that continues to utilize Puzzle Bot’s winning formula.
Though many of us adults will only play it once due to its easy-to-remember solutions, silly demeanor and short lifespan, the kids will definitely want to replay this game over and over, so it can be recommended for people of all ages. If you’re looking for that quick old school puzzle fix, have a thing for robots made for mayhem, or have an annoying little cousin coming to visit that you want to keep out of your face for the entire weekend, then look no further than Puzzle Bots.