Guns, beer, and robots, what do these three things have in common? A new game by developer Demiurge Studios called Shoot Many Robots. Grab a cold one and a shotgun, we're going to save the world from the robot apocalypse!
What? You want a story? The title of the game is Shoot Many Robots, even the developer Demiurge Studios admits the game is thin on story, so get to shooting.
You're still here? Fine, here is the official story straight from Demiurge's web site;
"The game stars P. Walter Tugnut, a lovable hillbilly who’s been stock-piling his RV with guns, ammo, and beer awaiting the robot apocalypse. In case you’re wondering, the “P” stands for “Pickles” - but don’t call him that."
That's all folks.
Controls and Gameplay
For Shoot Many Robots Demiurge wanted to create an old school run and gun style 2D side-scrolling shooter with a mix of new school 2.5D shooter elements. The final result is a 2.5D side-scrolling shooter with hordes of enemies and a old single stick shooting style. At first this isn't a bad idea, but as the game progresses in the single player it becomes harder and harder to survive when you have to quick switch from shooting to jumping to punching to switching weapons.
Shoot Many Robots has some slight role playing elements that, as you destroy more robots, you gather experience points to level up and nuts. Nuts are the money in Shoot Many Robots that allow you to buy better weapons, hats, tops, and bottoms. The weapons and equipment you buy all have various properties that help or hinder you, some even give you body slam or hover powers.
While the single stick style does work, it's a slow painful slog in single player until you've collected enough nuts and leveled up enough to get some of the more powerful items. You also earn a star rating per level based on your final score. You have to have earned enough stars to unlock later levels to play, so you end up replaying earlier levels over and over and over. Alternately if you absolutely can't wait, there is a micropayment option were you can pay real money for more in-game money (they call this "nutting-up") to afford some of the higher cost items. I would suggest the third option, multiplayer.
The four player online co-op allows for a much less painful slog and quicker ascension to higher levels and better items. In my first foray into the co-op I was dropped into a game with others who were many levels higher than I and were playing on the insane difficulty. I died a lot and had to be rescued often. At the end of the level all the other players had double-digit kills, I had 4 kills total. On the plus side when I went back to my single player game I discovered I had well over 53,000 nuts to spend on equipment.
The upgrades made my grinding through the single player better to a point, but eventually I hit that wall where I needed better equipment. So back into the world of multiplayer I went.
Graphics and Sound
Shoot Many Robots has a fairly colorful cartoony art style. Some levels drop into that blah brown palette that other apocalyptic/military shooters use, but most aren't. I like the cartoon style, it has a hand drawn look to me.
The soundtrack varies between country picking to a hard bluesy guitar. Musical cues also warn when huge hordes are about to attack.
Prior to Shoot Many Robots, Demiurge Studios were a helper studio who worked with a number of bigger name studios on level creation or ports for other company's games. Shoot Many Robots is the studio's first game they wholly created all by themselves.
On paper Shoot Many Robots sounds great, but it stumbles a bit. The single player is a grind of going back over and over earlier levels until you unlock better equipment and level up enough to unlock later levels. While the single player is a grind, the multiplayer is a lot more fun, which is what Demiurge seems to have had in mind for the game. You get more nuts, your multipliers last longer, and controlling the hordes of enemies seems easier.
An interest aside, there has been a certain amount of outcry from players that Shoot Many Robots should have included a twin-stick style control scheme. At the time of this writing the CEO of Demiurge, Al Reed, has announced that they are going to hold a "competition" on a special build of Shoot Many Robots at PAX East 2012 that will have both single and twin-stick control schemes. The winner of that competition will be set as the default control in a future patch of the game.
While the slog and control schemes do drag down the game, the humor and multiplayer really bring out the best in the game. Walter may be a beer swilling hillbilly who keeps a large assortment of weapons in the shower of his RV, but he knows that when he is dressed in a Viking helmet, a tutu, and a shark fin on his back that his abilities will be greater. Especially while wielding a launcher that fires rocket-powered homing gnomes. Yes, I said gnomes and they giggle while they fly through the air too.
Shoot Many Robots may not be on anyone's game of the year list but with a fun multiplayer it is worth a good look for shooter fans with friends. I give Shoot Many Robots a good 3 out of 5.
Shoot Many Robots is rated M for Mature for Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, and Sexual Themes by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). Shoot Many Robots is available now for download on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A future release will be available for Windows PC. For more information see the Shoot Many Robots web site.