Let’s face it, robots are awesome! What’s more, you can get them to do anything you want them to – so long as you have a strong set of robotics and programming skills, of course. As technology progresses we can buy robotic cooks, pets, and, if you are so inclined, you can even buy a “pleasure model” to keep you warm on lonely nights. But what happens to robots with slight irregularities or operating malfunctions, surely they don’t just destroy them or throw them away? Well, they do! Odd Bot Out puts you in the dinky metal shoes of one such robot that wasn’t tall enough to make the cut, but is hasn’t given up. You’ll lead your imperfect pal to freedom over 100 different levels and work together with a whole bunch of other broken machines that are in limbo below the robotics factory.
Odd Bot Out is a game of experimentation and discovery that tasks you with finding your way to each stage’s exit. Typically, you will be trying to move your robot across gaps in the floor or to ledges that are just out of its reach. To do this you’ll work with other robots, create circuits and hop aboard wall-climbing vehicles. Each level is a super bite-sized slice of joy that brung a smile to my face when I finally realised how to complete it, and while some are more difficult than others, none of them should take more than a few minutes to master. Early challenges have you arranging magnetic blocks to form staircases or bridges, and others have you using different robots to haul blocks across the level, or even just as a a stepping stone for you to hop on top of to reach the exit.
Before long you’ll be wiring up mechanisms to power conveyor belts, and pushing buttons on snake-like machines to make them slither and writhe back and forward across the level. There’s a wonderful variety of puzzles and playthings to discover, and I couldn’t help but get a little excited to see what new toys might await me on the next level. The game never really gets any tougher, it keeps up a consistent challenge level throughout, but it obscures the solution in such a clever way as to make you feel silly when you eventually discover how to proceed.
For having such a minimalist appearance there is a surprising amount of character packed into the robots you meet, I have a real soft spot for the centipede character that helps you to cross large cravaces with its many feet, as you ride atop its back. There’s a warmth and friendliness to each of your new googly-eyed pals which heavily contributed to my desire to keep playing until the end.
Realistically, you could see everything Odd Bot Out has to offer in an afternoon, but it is best enjoyed a handful of levels at a time. Like a fine wine, it’s an experience to be savoured. You wouldn’t want to down it all in one go because such a fine creation doesn’t come along very often.
Odd Bot Out is as pure and original as games come these days, and I can’t fault it. If I had to nitpick I would simply ask for a sandbox mode that allowed players to craft their own levels and share them with eachother, thus prolonging the experience, but all in all this is a sublime game that has taken me by total surprise.
It is, in a word, wonderful.