☆ Review: A Robot Named FIGHT! "Down with the new flesh!" ☆ #GameDev #IndieGame

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Procedurally generated video games can be a real mixed bag.

Sometimes they can really work well (Nongunz) and sometimes the design can falter, the balance not quite right and the punishment outweighs the rewards too much for 
the game to be truly enjoyable (Tangledeep).

A Robot Named Fight is definitely in the earlier camp.

A 16-bit style Super Metroid-esque romp through a futuristic flesh-filled labyrinth that changes each play-through.

ARNF is set in a future where robots are getting a good kicking from an alien menace that’s very, VERY….meaty. The game clearly owes a great deal to Super Metroid, it’s visual style; main character design; gameplay even down to the force-field doors that separate each screen and the gun-arm used by the protagonist. It’s a bold move as it means that the player will naturally compare the games to each other and this could be off-putting for some,  although I personally have no issues with it.

I was intrigued how the procedurally generated nature of the game would affect the style of gameplay that usually accompanies Metroidvania games. I thought that surely it relies on tight, very specific room design so that you can progress through the game as intended; I wasn’t sure how random room generation would work in this regard. After playing ARNF, it’s quite impressive how the permadeath and random generation of rooms work within the confines of the game.

You start off next to a robot who is about to blink out of existence and just has time to explain the absolute basics of the controls to you before he kicks the proverbial digital bucket (The controls are very intuitive, I especially liked how the shoulder-buttons aim diagonally up and down which removes the need to be moving in order to shoot at specific angles) and that’s all the tutorial  that you get before heading off to blast your way through screen after screen of meaty baddies.

The art style in the game is very rich with the soundtrack and visuals being very SNES. The character movement is not quite as flowing as, say Contra or Super Metroid but this game is played at a slower pace with many rooms allowing you some time to plan your moves without being mown down in a hail of enemy fire. 

As you move through the rooms, you’ll come across various pickups that will remain unlocked in future play-throughs, for example an upgrade that lets your gunfire through scenery (handy for killing enemies on platforms above and below, but also saucy for hitting switches hidden in walls) or a boost button that can make some sections with flying enemies or platform-jumping easier, but is also used to open certain areas of the floor in order to proceed.  Some doors will need to be opened with a specific upgrade to your suit or weapon in order to move forwards, but the back-tracking is never onerous and usually only encompasses a handful of screens as opposed to hours’ worth of running through the same corridors over and over.

There are also some really nicely designed boss battles spread around that when defeated,  unlock various items. Due to the nature of the alien menace (a cool reminder of which is the enormous, pulsing fleshy mothership that dwarves the backgrounds in more open areas) the bosses are quite fantastically grotesquely designed, with vomit attacks, creepy probing hands and some that vaguely resemble throbbing sexual organs, the bosses are huge monstrosities that are a highlight of the game and call to mind the likes of R-Type and Gynoug (good) as my father used to say, “you can’t beat a screen-engulfing, buzzing boss battle in a side-scroller!” (actually his last words)

The permadeath in the game is nicely implemented. I haven’t completed the game yet but I haven’t gotten tired of restarting due to the variety in the game, as mentioned earlier, the punishment fits the challenge and reward. Although some upgrades feel like variations on a theme needed only to get through very specific areas, there is enough of a difference to make unlocking each one feel like an achievement. 

There are quite a few species of enemies in the game with different ways of attacking and none feel unfair, whenever I succumbed in the game it always felt like it was my fault and not an issue with unfair difficulty balance or cheap design. The one-life approach also makes the boss battles even tenser and when you stumble into a boss room earlier than you’d like, it makes for quite a frenetic, tactical fight.

I’ve read some comments where a couple of people have said that they have finished the game in a couple of hours, but I can only assume that they happened to have run-throughs that gave them strong power-ups or are veterans of the genre, personally at £7 for the game, if I had completed it in three or four hours, I would still feel like I had my money’s worth as it is a very solid play-through and for those that would complete the game multiple times, the random generation offers a nice variety. 

I recall the same issue being levelled at Shadow Complex when it was released, in relation to game –length but I don’t mind a game being short if it’s well-written and enjoyable. Thinking about it, Bulletstorm was the same in this regard (but that had Steve Blum in it, so I was besotted from the start, anyway)

There is also a local co-op aspect to the game where player two appears as a controllable orb that follows player one although they share the same life-bar. Whilst it’s a nice inclusion, the lack of a full 2 player mode does seem a shame as it would add an extra layer to the game but as it’s such a strong single-player experience, it wasn’t an issue for me (although I do love some local co-op action)

If you are a fan of Metroid style games, this is a great purchase to make. I have no nostalgia for the Super Metroid games (I always leaned more towards the Mega Drive as I was growing up) and so my playing of ARNF wasn’t through rose-tinted spectacles, it’s a very solid game in its own right that I heartily recommend to fans of the genre, it’s also a good place to start as it’s not crushingly challenging. 

If you are a seasoned veteran of this genre or perhaps enjoy a game that would take twenty or thirty hours to play through with constant back-tracking and unlock like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, for example), maybe this won’t present the challenge or length that you are looking for, but for me it was awesome, flesh-blasting fun and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam

Review By Britt

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