Andy Schuette has been gaming ever since he could hold a SNES controller in his hands and has been loving every minute of it. He's the funniest guy he knows, and the least funny guy everyone else knows.
While perusing an old Steam sale, a very interesting title caught my eye: Drunken Robot Pornography, a game by Dejobaan Games and self-described bullet hell style shoot ‘em up. Just based on the name, I didn’t think I’d like it, but all it needed was that first chance.
If you’re less confused about the Drunken Robot Pornography part of this review and more confused about the “bullet hell style shoot ‘em up” part, this simply means that it’s one of those frustratingly difficult and potentially seizure-inducing games where you dance around trying to avoid enemy fire as much as trying to shoot back. And good it may be, let’s be honest: half the fun of the game is telling people you’re playing Drunken Robot Pornography and watching their reactions to the title.
You find yourself filling the shoes of Reuben Matsumoto, the previous owner of a robot-run bar in a shiny, near-future version of Boston. In order to better serve your fine establishment’s patrons, you decided to give your robo-bartender, Tim, sentience. This is all well and good – that is, until Tim finally snaps under the pressure listening everyone’s problems. Instead, he destroyed the bar, took off with your 12 dancing robot employees and together, begun an assault on the city.
As the problem’s ultimate instigator, it’s up to you to stop them, armed with your trusty gun, jetpack, and snarky smart-suit aptly named Suit.
The conversations that go on between Reuben and Suit are very entertaining. The jokes are a bit reminiscent of Portal‘s GLaDOS and while they aren’t nearly as dark, Suit still has some great one-liners:
If you are not careful while playing, the level design in Drunken Robot Pornography can easily trip you up. These levels can range from mostly open single-floor areas, all the way to levels with more jump pads than regular ground. In fact while playing the game myself I found that staring up at the monstrous mechanical adversary and blindly running will lead to many instances of falling off into the chasm of nothingness below. Instead on the level you must plan your jump pad usage and jetpack control in order to get a better view of the enemy’s breakable limbs.
Part of the design differences include where the power-up items are located. Some of these will change how your gun works, such as heavy fire, triple fire, splinter fire, and rapid fire. Not to mention that these can be stacked on top of one another, as seen in the screenshot below where triple fire and heavy fire are combined, to make for an insanely destructive weapon for facing the mechanical titans.
While the power-ups are vastly more effective than the vanilla gun, it would be nice to see some change in the gun model when you grab a new modification for the weapon. As it stands, the currently employed weapon mods are known by the icon on the left side of the screen, the visuals of the shots being fired, and the sound of the shots (for example, heavy fire has a deeper sound while rapid fire is lighter and obviously more rapid).
These power-ups are a welcome variety due to the differences in the robot titans you must face. Enemies have different amounts of tolerance for your bullets so having some instances of quick and/or heavy fire can really come in handy. Certain enemies will seemingly laugh off your petty vanilla fire. Where other games this would just make for a longer and more frustrating boss fight, the lack of firepower here causes a fight that takes far too long to even break off a small piece of that titan’s body to fit within the time constraints. The small drones that fly about can easily be dropped with regular fire, but even those are much better dealt with using splinter fire to hit multiple small targets at once.
Positioning can be just as important as attack style as in most FPS games. Some titans are better fought from a distance to avoid their attacks while some enemies should be disposed of quickly by getting up close and personal.
While these differences offer a small amount of variety to the way titans must be dealt with, there is one glaring issue that I see making the grow almost stale in its repetitiveness of play. The issue being that all attacks on titans must be done sequentially.
For example, with a tentacled titan, each portion of every arm must be taken off starting with the furthest part from the base. Shooting at the shoulder does nothing unless it’s the final joint. This leads to some frustrating times, especially when the level design places things like platforms and walkways in the line of sight between you and the titan. That brings up the question of why we must hit certain spots to do damage in the first place. It would be understandable if they had weaker spots than others but if someone shoots you in the leg, it’s going to hurt like hell whether the bullet hits your foot or your thigh.
That said, any semblance of strategy is out of the equation. The only choices to make are to run in or hang back. with only a single weapon that has varying “pewing” frequencies. Even then, there’s no strategy in choosing the best mod for the job, just running and gunning hoping for the right power-up (but I suppose they nailed the shoot ‘em up part of being a shoot ‘em up game).
Speaking of difficulty, the pacing of the game can be polarizing among players. Some enjoy the fast-paced high difficulty situations that make up each level, while it leads others to leave a fist-sized hole in the surface of their desk. Much of this difficulty comes from the bullet hell style that is employed. With tons of enemies and a hail of bullets and lasers whizzing back and forth, there is a lot happening on the screen. This can lead to a harsh level of confusion when you lose the ability to make out what is an enemy attack and continue to die over and over in a flashy mess of lasers. And when the amount of enemy fire coming in isn’t too hard for you the strict time limit given can definitely make for a hard time with levels.
The style of Drunken Robot Pornography is aimed for fans of shoot ‘em up games mainly because it is one. While it hopes to appeal to all FPS skills and fans, or so said the previous version of its Steam page, it misses the mark for a certain shooter fans by only having the one type of gun play. Not that one game can expect to make everyone happy, but the bold claims they made force people to look for fun in different areas of the game’s reach, and unfortunately miss out on desired features. The claim has since been removed from the page, making it clear that it is designed for fans of shoot ‘em ups
While Drunken Robot Pornography certainly has its moments of overly frustrating difficulty, it is a very fun game to pick up for short bursts. Each level is generally limited to a couple minutes at most making it a great choice to start up while dinner is cooking. The small amount of time for each level is not a representation for the length of the game itself. There are tons of levels to be played as you try to save Boston from the mechanical attackers as well as the option to build your own levels and play those made by community members.
The $15 price tag is not bad when considering the fun the game brings and it usability as a non-time consuming experience. Personally I would look for a sale on it as it can come down pretty far in price (I got it for only $3.75) making it even more worth the investment. This game is not for the faint at heart, well, at least not for those prone to epilepsy, but it is a good game for players of all skill levels to pick up and learn.