Dripping with the neon-infused, retro-futurist chic of its stablemates Evac and Totemo, Hexage’s new game is like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers for the developer’s fans - albeit ones that glow in the dark and bleep whenever you move.
Freemium title Robotek is a sublime mix of turn-based combat, RPG-levelling and - oddly - fruit machine luck, but is held back from legendary status by a lack of variation and repetitive design.Rise of the machines
From the battle units that brim with chunky charm to the hypnotic trance soundtrack, Robotek is an aesthetic treat that hooks the eyes and ears even before you delve into the simple yet deceptively tactical gameplay.
The basic setup is also intrinsically appealing.
To reclaim the world from the toasters and other dominant machine overlords, you control a giant Android warrior on a one-robot mission to seize control of 200 power nodes spread across the wire-frame world map.
Tussles themselves are entirely turn-based with your stalwart, boxy Android facing off against a sleeker Machine opponent in zappy, screen-filling rucks.GOTO Heat ray
In each round, you and the AI have to repeatedly choose from three distinct battle options until one of you explodes in a shower of cogs and sparks.
You can add and reinforce your trio of available supporting units - Droids protect your legs, Tanks block your body, and Drones protect your bonce - deploy defensive strategies, or attack with a variety of nasty neon weaponry.
Just like using a battered, booze-soaked pub fruit machine, tapping an action from the selection above causes a trio of icons to start spinning: each representing a robot model, defensive measure, or weapon. A well-timed rap anywhere on the screen selects a moving unit from the first row.
The remaining scrolling icons are then randomly chosen for you, with matching pairs giving a power boost to the action. Score three in a row and, as well as winning an extra turn, your action is super charged to create extra tough units, near impenetrable shields, or genocidal weapons.
Admittedly, the reliance on luck removes some strategy from the mostly addictive (just one more go) gameplay, but it does add an element of excitement to every scrap - especially during the tense, finger-crossing agony of enemy turns.Charge of the neon light brigade
Although you can get a solid hour’s play out of Robotek without forking out a penny, battling higher level Nodes saps your charge (the in-game currency). A modest payment will, therefore, be needed to continue climbing to the higher levels needed to take on tougher two- and three-star nodes.
So it’s a shame there is so little variety once you get further into the game.
No new enemy types, no new units: just machines with longer energy bars and a few more bonus powers to help you defeat them (paid for with coins earned by levelling-up or by purchasing charge).
This turns Robotek into a somewhat superficial pleasure, and one that will effortlessly steal a few hours of your time but – unless imaginative updates are forthcoming - is unlikely to keep dragging you back for much longer than that.