The Girl and the Robot (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 18.09.2016 2

Review for The Girl and the Robot  on PC

It's been far too long since a video game of this form has come along. Normally, when one hears 'artistic game,' the notion of something that either tries to hammer in an obvious message, or ends up being so vague and shadowy that anyone without a huge amount of insight into just what the game is trying to say will be lost. The Girl and the Robot actually manages to touch upon something rare and special… and yet it is only a touch.

The artistic video game is a true rarity within this world. Rather, it is far too common to get a game on-par with an anti-drug PSA in terms of subliminal message, or a game that has done the artistic version of throwing paint on a canvas and letting the viewer decide what it means. Rare is it that a game comes close to touching upon the qualities that, were it a piece of art, would merit being framed and stored within a classical museum. The Girl and the Robot fits firmly into the latter though, sadly, it would not be a top museum or the centrepiece by a longshot.

It's actually sort of heart-breaking to say bad things about this, because it's so easy to see why it excels. The famed film-maker Hayao Miyazaki of My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, among others, had a particular aspect to most of his films. Every once in a while, there would be these moments of silence where, while little actually happened, it allowed for the film and audience to breath, reminisce, and wonder despite the emptiness that were called 'Ma'. A prime example of one of these moments being the train ride at the end of Spirited Away in which two of the characters are simply sitting on a train as it travels. The moment helps establish the great world beyond, its size and vastness, how strange yet warm it can be, and many other things all with barely anything happening.

Screenshot for The Girl and the Robot  on PC

Why bring up cinema in such a review? These moments can even translate into games beautifully at times. For example, the simple act of traveling from boss to boss in Shadow of the Colossus, despite relatively little happening, not only lets the players breathe, take in the world, feel small, but makes the battles against the titular colossi feel that much huger and tense despite not being that challenging compared to boss fights in other titles. The Girl and the Robot is basically an entire game based upon these moments of 'Ma' and it shows. Beautifully.

This starts off with a young girl trapped away in a locked room, where a wounded bird comes to rest. Upon tending to the bird its owner unlocks the door, letting her out into the vast world beyond where, soon, she ends up in control of a medallion that allows her to control a mechanical robot. The girl wants to get outside of this lonely place, but a queen and her army of robots stand in her way. The gameplay is fairly simple, nothing that hasn't been seen a thousand times before. The two characters each have their own abilities; such as the girl being small, able to jump, and heal the robot while the Robot can fight, trigger ranged switches, and move heavier objects. It's a simple set-up with few surprises and, if it were merely a game about gameplay, it would be a basic game barely worth mentioning.

Screenshot for The Girl and the Robot  on PC

…But it's not. This heavily relies upon 'Ma,' and it really shows as much of this adventure is simply quiet. No difficult puzzles, no tense action, not even all that much music, and it shows. A connection can easily form in the strangest, yet best, of ways. From the simple act of how the girl sits on the robot's shoulder when it carries her around, to how the enemies seek to recapture the girl, yet have no qualms about destroying the robot, to the silent and empty towns and lovely graphics - it's all simply beautiful.

It's a rare, yet lovable, pleasure to be certain as something that would otherwise feel burdensome, such as fleeing a group of robots while being the girl without the robot around, ends up feeling tense and engaging, and you really can start to feel both afraid without the robot, yet comforted by its presence. Very few can manage emotion in such a manner… which is why it hurts so much to say that this product has some serious issues.

Screenshot for The Girl and the Robot  on PC

The combat changes between "ungodly easy" to "teeth-grinding unfair" based on the number of enemies. What can be a series of super-easy fights can suddenly end up with the player being stuck trying to utilize exploits and wall-clipping in order to defeat a room full of enemies. The previously easy and even pleasant puzzles give way to annoying ones, in which the player must switch between the robot and girl to follow invisible paths that could have been so much easier had this just let the path be illuminated for a second or two longer.

Worst of all, however, is that this is very short; so short that these moments of 'Ma' end up feeling like the only moments of real sustenance to an otherwise generic game which can be quickly beaten and, worst of all, ends on a clear cliff-hanger which further adds to the frustration, since these quiet moments don't take much production time leading to the game feeling sort of like they ran out of money more than anything.

Screenshot for The Girl and the Robot  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

This is good. Consider this an "optimistic" good, since The Girl and the Robot has shown some clear potential and can rocket uphill as opposed to a "failed to live up to promises" good. This is worth checking out for its moments of 'Ma,' and is certainly enjoyable, but the moments it spends away from letting its atmosphere breath, and, instead, tries to ramp up the challenge and breaks that atmosphere, feel painful. What it does right it does great, and, hopefully, there will be a sequel for this title. Those who do not care for such things, however, there simply isn't anything else to really enjoy beyond some decent cel-shaded graphics.

Developer

Flying Carpets Games

Publisher

Flying Carpets Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

A great write-up. Seems a shame indeed.

Generally speaking I find how "arty" a game is, is inversely proportional to how hard its trying to tell you its arty Smilie
Its probably better for developers to instead try to focus on emotional resonance. How they want the player to feel at each moment. And, indeed, your dead right that pauses are very important for that experience.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

One of the best moments was when I was...

*SPOILERS*

About to escape the city and on a long bridge out. It seemed straight forwards, easy, and like I was almost there until the bridge suddenly pulled back forcing me to return to the city. It was a pretty obvious thing that I predicted, but it didn' stop me from at least feeling something regardless.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie, jesusraz, Ofisil

There are 3 members online at the moment.