Game Reviews

Robocide - Day 7

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| Robocide
Robocide - Day 7
| Robocide

Robocide describes itself as a micro RTS, but what exactly does that mean?

Given that you control a veritable swarm of tiny robots, far more than in the average real-time strategy game, developer PlayRaven's apparent confusion of 'micro' and 'macro' is the most likely explanation.

I'm being pedantic, but it is a point worth making. The appeal of Robocide is not the size of the units, but the sheer number of them on screen, and the ease with which you can control them.

Played in portrait and designed to be controlled with a single digit, Robocide is certainly one of the more commute-friendly strategy titles out there.

It's oddly satisfying and empowering to see a horde of robotic minions reacting to the whim of your finger, too.

I'll be playing it over the next seven days to see if it's a worthy addition to the crowded free to play strategy market.

First impressions

The battlefields in Robocide are all bordered firmly by the edge of your device's screen, meaning you can always see the full picture without having to zoom or pan around.

The objectives of a battle are similarly straightforward - raze enemy bases to the ground before the same fate befalls yours.

A large crosshair is used to direct your swarming mass of robot fighters while, from the bottom of the screen, you can deploy a range of powerful behemoths to swing the odds in your favour.

It's simple, but it's not without nuance.

Each kill generates a blue orb, and you use these to produce more robots at your base. However, some of your existing robots are automatically diverted to ferry the orbs back, weakening your attacking force.

This creates a great risk / reward dilemma when it comes to pushing ahead, as it leaves the orb-transporting robots with further to travel, leaving you vulnerable for longer.

The massive, tanker-like robots clank around autonomously once you've deployed them, but there's some strategy in their use, too.

Each has its own ability, some cutting through swathes of enemies with oversized swords, others firing freezing beams that stop the enemy in their tracks.

There's also the opportunity to equip them with new bits and bobs and upgrade them to higher levels, but I haven't dabbled in that too much at this early stage.

So far, though, it's looking promising. I love a good strategy title, and there are some great ones on mobile, but this seems a more considered and fitting approach to the platform than almost any I've seen.

Will Robocide live up to its promise, or will it stagnate in the next couple of days? Will its F2P monetisation begin to apply roadblocks and inconvenience as we go deeper? We'll return in a few days to find out.

Day 5 - Consolidation

It's a nice power-trip when you're swishing your finger around to wreak havoc like some thoughtlessly destructive robo-God, but Robocide gets hard pretty quickly.

However, unlike most other free to play strategy titles I've played, the game gives you a way to reverse your fortunes that doesn't involve upgrading your units.

Here, failure isn't a hard wall telling you to go and enhance the core abilities at your disposal. With some tactical tweaks, you can go from defeat to 3-star completion without upgrading a single thing.

Up to a point, that is. You see, while far less aggressive in that department than many of its counterparts, Robocide still wants you to go into the Armory and upgrade stuff.

The way this is done is nothing new. Bots are modular, and can be upgraded with bits and bobs found on the battlefield. Enough bits and bobs, and you can promote your troops.

This encourages you to replay stages until the vital item drops, or to simulate a previously 3-starred level - using a limited resource called an A.I. Subroutine - for all the spoils and none of the fuss.

The fear on day one was that monetisation would rear its ugly head and ruin Robocide, but it doesn't appear that's going to happen. Crystals are doled out regularly, and pressure to spend is kept at a minimum.

The concern now, as the Robocide mission structure becomes more familiar, is whether there is enough variation within the single-screen maps to sustain interest.

They're brief, and while the first part of this review discusses the practical benefits of having such bite-sized stages, having to cram everything in a single screen is undeniably limiting in terms of environmental design.

Promisingly, there has already been some signs of variation in the form of electrical forcefields that apply bottlenecks to the stage and encourage you to adapt your tactics on the fly.

And, with PvP and alliance modes as yet totally unexplored, it doesn't look as though the game's running out of tricks any time soon.

It'd take a truly woeful collapse in the next couple of days to let this one down, but the week isn't over yet.

Return on day 7 to read the overall verdict, and to see if interaction with the great unwashed - both competitive and collaborative - will sour or enhance Robocide's strong core.

Day 7 – Hard as titanium

A week in, Robocide's toughness is moving away from being an enjoyable challenge and veering into the territory of overpowered enemies and forced grinding.

However, once you've understood that returning to already completed battles is a must - especially making use of your allotted A.I Subroutines - things become a little smoother.

When you're doubling back to pick up weapons, armour parts, and the like, before bolting them on to your bots, Robocide - as with so many other free to play games of this type - becomes more about the meta-game.

And so, as smooth and enjoyable as they are, the brevity of the battles becomes a blessing. As the gameplay itself inevitably stagnates through repetition, the thrill of building and enhancing your units only increases.

There's even some RPG-lite decision-making involved along the way. Each time a bot's up for promotion you need to decide what's more important, range or ability? To slow the enemy down, or to focus on pure explosive damage?

The Alliance system has proven to be incredibly smooth, too.

By ensuring that all members benefit from one member buying an IAP, and giving similar Alliance-wide rewards when the group's level increases, PlayRaven has encouraged a real sense of community there.

Even if the Alliance I joined is called 'London Killa mech Crew'.

The Arena is similarly polished, but is disappointingly similar to other strategy titles. You set up your defences and other players attack them, while you do the same to everyone else.

Not exactly the exciting, Clash Royale-esque PvP it could've been, but certainly competent. It also operates on a separate energy system to the single player, which is a nice touch.

While certainly imperfect in some areas, Robocide's been consistently entertaining - and, from time to time, downright brilliant - in the week I've been playing it.

5 minutes with Robocide is enough to see where other mobile strategy games have gone wrong, and a week is certainly enough to see that it's not a one-trick pony.

On the solid foundation of its pared-down strategy and one-thumb control scheme is an equally compelling meta-game, which has the power to get its hooks in for the long haul.

Between this and Clash Royale, it's been an incredibly strong couple of weeks for accomplished, made-for-mobile, free to play games.

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Robocide - Day 7

A strategy title that plays brilliantly to the strengths of the mobile platform, with short and sweet play sessions and intuitive controls.
Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.