One of life’s lessons is that we should never judge a book by its cover and in the case of Don’t Die, Mr Robot that is certainly a very apt saying.
At first glance Don’t Die, Mr Robot looks like a student project, it looks like a game that will have poor controls, be clunky as hell and has little to no polish at all. You could almost be forgiven for turning a blind eye to its release. However in doing so, you will rob yourself of something very good indeed.
Let us start with the down side of the game before even getting to the gameplay and mechanics. Visually it is certainly lacking polish, but the art style itself looks like it done using the most basic of vector tools to try and create something, as though a stage was reached for the look and feel and then left untouched.
It feels like we are being harsh here, but the main character a square with eyes that you can dress up is neither inspiring, nor recognisable and even though there are customisation options, they don’t feel worth bothering with. It really feels it needed to do one of two things.
Either have someone come in to create something that really stands out, or follow the Thomas Was Alone school of character design. The squareness of the main character feels right within the game world, but the aesthetic is really lacking. A simple square with no character could have worked here.
It is the same with enemy design, it is lacking that certain something and again sets itself between needing to be more basic or having more effort put in. It just isn’t pulling you in from the start and again that follows through to the UI, which is again looking like it has been done with some basic CSS options and little else.
Now that being said. Gameplay is truly fantastic and from the very moment you start, you feel like you are playing a standalone version of Pacifist Mode from Geometry Wars 2. That mode where you had to pass through the gates to destroy the enemies that were within the blast radius.
Yes, that is what you have here, except the gates are replaced with pieces of fruit.
It works so well too, the character control is as smooth as butter and as responsive as you could hope. It is a game about precision control and that is exactly what you have here. It adds a few little touches of its own though, which really add to the mechanics.
You are rewarded for chaining together explosions, where the blast radius of one fruit touches another piece and so on, allowing you to get a multiplier. You are also rewarded for taking risks, as you get bonus points for brushing enemies without actually making contact. How you maximise your scoring is vital because at the end of the day this is a game all about getting high scores and making you climb those leaderboards.
There is variety too, aside from a main arcade mode, which is where you will spend the best part of your time, there is a remix mode, which is essentially a measured progress mode as well as a timed mode, that sees you get two and a half minutes to get the highest score possible, where you can die as much as you want.
Finally there is Chill Out mode, which is very deceptive in name, as it is anything but once it gets going. This is an endless mode that start of slow, but increases the intensity with every passing second, to the point you are going on instinct alone and it is bloody fantastic.
As we said, you cannot judge a book by its cover. Taking a look at Don’t Die, Mr Robot from afar you really would be forgiven for not giving it a second look, but trust us when we say, make sure you do. This is a fantastic game and one that we can easily recommend.