Twin Robots (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 13.11.2017

Review for Twin Robots on PlayStation 4

One must wonder what exactly goes into game design theory. Sure, platform placement, level design, and levelling of a player's otherworldly avatar are important. However, it's just as important to ask, how do these individual things come together to create a cohesive and enjoyable experience. Twin Robots on PlayStation 4 might have you pondering the same questions as you move around its various landscapes. It might raise questions like, "Does game design theory matter at all here?" and "Why does this game just want to see me die?"

Twin Robots is set in some sort of assembly warehouse, maybe. Frankly, it doesn't really seem to matter. All you need to know is that there are two robots, one black and one white, that need to reach the end of each stage without running out of energy. Energy is spent when the robots do things, like jump, and thus they must manage their energy appropriately so neither one dies. Also, they need to manage it so that they can open the door at the exit, which requires a generous contribution of energy to see the heroes to the end. Beyond this, the player is free to switch between robots as they see fit, trying to lead them both to the Promised Land.

Right off the bat, the music and visuals are merely okay. They are better than most programmer art, but in general this game isn't going to be winning any beauty contests. Much like the lack of a plot, however, this doesn't seem to be the point of Twin Robots. To be honest, some of the best puzzle platformers haven't been particularly gorgeous, so Twin Robots won't be losing out much with its rather bland appearance. If it bothers you that much, just pretend it's a retro title and the inspiration is cheap N64 games.

Screenshot for Twin Robots on PlayStation 4

The actual gameplay, however, is passable at its best moments, and obnoxious at its worst. Controlling the titular robots is easy enough until their feet leave the ground. As they bound towards a ledge, almost certainly grabbing on successfully, so often they come up just a little short. Now, in order to pull the robots onto the ledge, you have to press X. As they often come up short, this will result in a wall jump. This is far too easy to do, sometimes being the difference between a step or two. Sure, precision is nice to require, but since the fail state is possibly flinging a robot backwards into a trap, it's kind of annoying overall.

Then there's the matter of saving the other robot. When the level begins, one robot is trapped, the ceiling slowly coming down to crush it. It is the other robot's job to quickly find a red button that will stop the ceiling's descent, and let the aforementioned trapped robot escape. In theory, this is a great idea. It puts pressure on the player to search quickly, and adds a degree of tension that would otherwise never have existed.

Screenshot for Twin Robots on PlayStation 4

In practice, this works until the dreadful realisation that the level won't end without a definitive answer. Either both robots live, one lives and one dies, or both robots die. If the hero dies before hitting the button, the trapped robot is automatically switched to, and you get to watch his slow and terrifying (and inescapable) demise. This can be avoided by restarting the level from the menu, but it's kind of cruel. Well, it's cruel at first. Eventually it becomes really frustrating.

Speaking of things becoming annoying, things in Twin Robots sometimes have a tendency to just fly away. Now, in its defence, it doesn't happen so often that the game is unplayable. However, every so often (it's a short title, so it happens more often than it should) while trying to un-wedge a block, it will just fling itself off the screen. When a robot is pushing against the back of another robot, it can occasionally fling its travel buddy off the screen. This ends up leaving the feeling that the game is broken, or at the very least, unforgivably unpolished.

Worse yet, every level has to be finished multiple times, thanks to the two robots needing to get where they are going. This has a lot of potential, because there are things like falling platforms and energy walkways that restore… energy. As the trapped robot starts with so little, the first robot needs to do it's best to leave as many of these untouched as possible.

Screenshot for Twin Robots on PlayStation 4

All of these things are mere fodder for the flame, however, and the flame itself is the camera. Now, the camera isn't bad, in and of itself, but the effect it has on the player's field of vision is cheap and unfair. While you are desperately trying to stay alive, there shouldn't be so many blind leaps of faith to encounter. Often the game kills the robots with something they couldn't see or possibly plan for. The camera seems intentionally designed to obscure important traps, making the cheap, like jump scares in a horror film. While a handful of levels use this in a meaningful way (Level 15 comes to mind), this isn't usually about split-second reactions, it's more about tricking the player, and that's just not enjoyable.

Did the first robot knock out too many of those floorboards? Hopefully the player remembers, after doing everything else they did, or the second robot will end up skewered on spikes. Make it past a super tricky section? Hope you can do it again in a minute with the same limited frame of view. This is tacky, as it feels like the game is laughing at the player, chastising them for being so "stupid." This kind of mistreatment is inevitably only tolerable for so long and eventually it becomes clear: Twin Robots isn't hard, it's simply poorly designed.

Screenshot for Twin Robots on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Twin Robots takes a fairly unique idea, some rather bland window trimming, and then pelts the player with a lot of bad decisions. This is the videogame equivalent of "Why are you punching yourself?" Worse yet, it feels unpolished, with its poor ledge collision and the robots' ability to fling boxes, and each other, just by running into them. In an already crowded sub-genre of an already crowded main genre, Twin Robots is just too short on its execution to be memorable for very long at all.

Developer

Thinice Games

Publisher

Ratalaika Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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