In the world of modern day gaming, roguelike and roguelite games seem to be popping out as often as chapters of ONE PIECE. Since The Binding of Isaac surprised us and made the genre more accessible to gamers, other indie teams have tried to throw their hat into the fray. Space Robinson is a cute roguelike that borrows elements from many previous entries in the genre before it, and yet it also does its own thing which creates a unique and fun experience.
But how does a game like Space Robinson match up with its long list of peers? Is this the next roguelike to take the gaming world by storm? Or is M3-B9 G.U.N.T.E.R. going to pop up on the screen and warn, “DANGER, SPACE ROBINSON!” (Sorry. That joke was too easy.) Well, let’s find out!
Like many roguelikes, Space Robinson starts you off in a mini-tutorial of sorts. You are cruising in a space craft when all of a sudden things start to fail. You crash land on some unknown planet, and you are simply relieved that you are alive. As you move through this crash site, you pick up tips on how to play, but it is as minimal of a tutorial as you can get. Learning to use your melee weapon, shoot guns, and dash are key to success, so this is where the tutorial focuses most.
This does a decent job getting you prepared for the road ahead, but I would have appreciated a bit more introduction to bases, powerups, and energy, especially since those three are major areas of the game that seem to be learned more about on your own.
At the end of the tutorial, you learn about day and night cycles, which is an interesting mechanic, although it feels more like a nuisance throughout gameplay than a unique idea in execution. At first, I enjoyed it, but after a while of playing through, I just found simple strategies to burn the time or avoid the night segments all-together.
When you finally arrive at Colony 21, your home base for the game, for the first time, you will be absolutely confused by all of the different rooms, machines, and iconography displayed. After numerous times playing through the game, more of Colony 21 opens up as you collect more energy and special items. The home base is great, but I do have a problem that I will get into later.
Space Robinson’s core game plays very similarly to others like it on the market. You use twin-stick controls to determine your trajectory for both melee and projectile weapons, and health is a commodity that is of the greatest value. Using the game’s dash ability is vital, and learning to bob and weave incoming projectiles will help keep you alive and hold on to more health.
Areas are usually split up into three to four stages, where the first two or three areas serve as basic stages where you get from point A to point B, while the final stage is a horde mode of sorts where waves of enemies come at you. I was a bit disappointed with the final stages, as I was naturally expecting some big ol’ randomized boss fight, but all you face is a gauntlet of enemies that you have already been facing previously.
In between areas, you will arrive at outposts that lead to the next area, and these serve as mini-bases that have their own little upgrades. I found this to be quite odd, because the game expects you to invest precious materials not only at Colony 21 but also at these separate outposts. Granted, the investment in the outposts is significantly smaller, but it just feels like an unnecessary extra thing to do.
Another strange flaw is the rarity of artifacts. Each stage in an area, including the horde mode stage, offer three items somewhere that you can pick-and-choose from, but that is the only perk you can get in each stage. Random item drops rarely-to-never happen, and I think this is why I longed for a boss fight, since a fight like that would clearly reward you with something epic, right? (Seriously. I played this game for many, many hours and only got animals a handful of times, and they are the best! Seriously. Little doggies that transform and eat the aliens whole and flying pigs that deflect projectiles? Give me more of these!)
Instead, what we have are these mini-bosses somewhere in the middle of an area (Stage 2 or 3) that are totally optional to kill, and they only reward you with bullets, health, and possibly a new gun. In general, rewards from killing enemies just feels minimal, and by result speedrunning through stages is a legitimately good strategy for those that want to get to the horde mode waves quicker, specially if you have decent enough perks.
One thing that Space Robinson does PERFECTLY, though, is the absolutely banging soundtrack. Every single track gets my blood pumping and inspires me to start killing all of these baddies, and even the colony and outposts offer a great change of pace that flows perfectly well with the rest of the soundtrack. There is something about great music that can turn a mediocre game into a really good one, and Space Robinson is a perfect example of this.
All in all, the game offers a lot of potential gameplay, and the two different difficulty modes as well as the ability to upgrade Colony 21 just adds a whole lot more to the experience. Is it worth your time and energy, though? I think so, although I do believe there are significantly better roguelikes out there that have set the standard for the genre.
But if you are looking for something a bit different with a killer soundtrack to help drive you through it all, Space Robinson has your back. It may not be the best of its kind, but it is still fun and offers a lot.
Cute visuals and cuter animals.
Loads of gameplay.
Lack of bosses.
Poor reward system, lack of artifact drops.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.