Contains spoilers from my playthrough.
Choice of Games is an interesting game publisher; their games don’t have any fancy graphical effects and they certainly don’t contain any sound, either. In fact, they are entirely text-based choose-your-own books. Over the years they have garnered a huge fan base who eagerly await their new releases. Choice of Robots, by Kevin Gold, is their latest game – and my first foray into their offerings – and it has left me more than a little impressed.
Choice of Robots casts you as a scientist working on their PHD thesis in a university robotics lab, under the guidance of Professor Ziegler. The choices you make in this expansive 300,000 word novel will not only determine your own fate, but could also impact the fate of the world as a whole. Every decision you make has a very real consequence and could benefit you greatly, or come back to haunt you later on down the road.
What kind of robot you create is entirely down to you, and Choice of Robots is very open in this regard. Whether you want to create the ultimate war machine used by the army on the battlefield, or something more useful for the general public, like a cooking robot, or sexbot, is all down to you. My own robot, called Flexo, was an empathetic, human-like machine, with arms and a sock puppet face , much to the chagrin of Professor Ziegler. Ziegler’s only concern is acquiring funding money for his department, so that he can kick back and relax while his students do all of the hard work for him. He argued that my robot was too human and would not appeal to the military, and so I appeased him by adding a hand-mounted gun to Flexo. This would be one of only a few interactions I would have with the military over the course of the book, but I was tantalised by what could have been if I had created a combat-focused machine.
I soon found myself travelling to China and setting up a factory, selling directly to the consumer. Our brand of robot could be used for cooking, cleaning and childcare. It proved to be a hit and made me moderately wealthy! I was a fool to have been so easily lured by those damn slave-labour wages, though, as the Chinese government stole my designs and began manufacturing a cheaper alternative. I got my own back on the Communist bastards when I started manufacturing robots for the American army, who swiftly kicked their arses! Manufacturing military robots was never my intention though, and I returned to my initial goal: creating realistic humanoids that could reason, laugh, and maybe, even, love?
I had devoted my life to robotics, lost friends and created enemies, but I had never truly loved, but then I created ‘Flame’. Flame, Flexo and I lived out our lives in relative harmony, and although I hadn’t impacted the world in a hugely meaningful way, I was content with the decisions I had made. As things go, I came away with a positive ending for my robot lover and I.
Kevin Gold deftly interweaves humour, suspense, sci-fi and romance in Choice of Robots. At points I felt saddened by the results of my actions,at others I laughed heartily at the fact I was dating a robot. Everything flows together so neatly that the game’s distinct thematic differences feel natural and intriguing. The game also has its own progress menu that keeps you up to date with how your relationships with other characters are going, and they can change depending on your actions towards them. You can also keep tabs on your wealth, humanity, and how well your own robot is developing. Neat little touches like this give a real reason to go back and replay the game, to see how different decisions affect the outcome. Given the plethora of decisions you can make, and the number of different paths you can go down, it is clear that Kevin Gold has poured an absurd amount of time into Choice of Robots, It is not your typical game by any stretch of the imagination, but having just completed Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf, I was happy to jump into another text-heavy adventure that let my brain do the graphics processing for a change.
Choice of Robots is a fun and absorbing book, that feels like your decisions have importance. Ultimately, it is what you make it, and whether that is a war torn planet with robots that hate humans, or one where sexed up robots want to jump your bones , is up to you.