If we're to talk abstractly, there's an argument to suggest that all games are about dodging stuff.
Whether you're playing a shoot-'em-up, a stealth game, or even something less traditional, the chances are that your success will rely on the avoidance of something or other - of bullets, of detection, of consequences.
Some are more up front about it than others, that's all. And Don't Die, Mr. Robot! is one of these, wearing its refined simplicity like a badge of honour.
Don't Die, Mr. Robot! is an instruction which you can only obey for a limited time. Because, no matter how long you delay it, Mr Robot will eventually die and it will be your fault.Persecution Complex
But then, it's a cruel game. Mr Robot - who's been rendered as little more than a limbless, yellow, bug-eyed square by his cruel creator - appears to have been unceremoniously shoved in a claustrophobic arena and plagued by an ever-intensifying shower of mechanical baddies.
How you got there hardly matters, though. In the developer's own words, Don't Die, Mr. Robot! is, "big on fun and small on plot."
Instead of worrying about such trifling issues, your priority is to grab fruit, which will react with your volatile circuitry and explode. A fruity explosion will leave you unharmed while at the same time destroying all surrounding enemies, and setting off a chain reaction with other fruits in its blast radius. Obviously.
And that's that, really. Not only does obliterating the incoming nasties get you some points, but each triggered sub-explosion also contributes to a points multiplier. And, of course, gives you room in which to extend your doomed life that little bit longer.Float like a butterfly...
I've played a few of these 'dodge-'em-up' games, and there was something which put me off this one just a little. Mr Robot is an awfully big presence on the screen, whereas in other games of this type you tend to control something small and flighty.
When you start out, you'll simply lurch from one fruit to another, desperate to clear the screen of enemies to snatch a few seconds of safety. But after a while, you'll learn to bide your time - if you can hold out until the screen is packed with fruit, then triggering one will get you some big points.
You're rewarded for your bravery, too. You'll get Danger Bonuses for grazing enemies, which benefit you more heavily based on duration of contact and sheer proximity, while Mr Robot quite understandably quivers in fear.
Like teenagers playing Chicken on a busy road (do people still do that?), the more dangerously you play, the more kudos you'll get.“To live defeated and inglorious is to die daily”
That's the meat and potatoes of the gameplay, but there's a decent handful of modes to mix things up slightly. Arcade Mode's the straight-up 'get as many points as you can' bit of the game, where you'll find the high score fiends pumping obscenely big numbers onto the leaderboards.
The best of the rest is Remix Mode, which gleefuly mucks around with the rules and challenges you to adapt over 50 levels.
Sometimes you'll be limited to only vertical movement, locked to the centre of the screen. Others, you'll be tasked purely with survival, with no fruits to help you out of a tight spot. As with a traditional mobile game, your performance on each level will be ranked with a trophy - ranging from bronze for competence to platinum for excellence.
Don't Die, Mr. Robot! nails the feeling of natural progression, like any good high score game should. With practice, you'll find yourself smashing scores which had seemed impossible only moments ago. And, when he inevitably expires, it'll be those moments of ecstasy which define Mr Robot. R.I.P.