It’s a bit rich calling a game Don’t Die, Mr. Robot!, given that the one thing you can say with absolute certainty is that Mr. Robot is going to die.
The question is how long it’ll take until your ham-fisted tilting and dodging causes the metal protagonist to be rudely propelled to silicon heaven. The answer is: almost certainly not very long.
And that’s because this one’s very much from the classic school of arcade game design, dumping you in a single-screen arena, and merrily flinging enemies your way to the point everything becomes hectic within mere seconds.
Fortunately, you have weapons, which come in the form of fruit — explosive fruit! Should our metal chum collide with a banana or a bunch of grapes, the fruit explodes, helpfully taking out nearby enemies. Initially, you’ll belt about grabbing fruit and rapidly dying before realising it’s beneficial to add a smidgeon of strategy to your play.
Hold fast until more fruit’s on screen and loads of enemies are closing in, and then blow the lot away in a smoothie-infused chain reaction. For extra smug points, you can also graze enemies, although you soon realise there’s a fine line between ‘grazing’ and ‘blundering into, therefore dying’.
So this is, quite clearly, a game that’s resolutely old-school, but there are concessions to modern play. The tilt-based controls are a good decision on iPhone, rather than you battling a virtual D-pad and obscuring the screen with a thumb.
There are also alternate modes to mix things up a bit. Aside from the standard Arcade score-chaser, there’s Time Attack, and the amusing Chill Out, where seemingly stoned enemies loll about like they’ve all the time in the world. Remix is the best of them, though, with 50 missions that keep shaking up the rules, keeping you on your toes.
A very British sense of humour
There’s also a sense Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! harks back to an era of very British games. The clunky visuals twinned with vibrant effects, intense gameplay and smart controls recall the best of Jeff Minter. And you can’t help but smile when a detached robotic female voice coldly states: “Spoilers: you will die!” when you start a game, and later dispassionately says “Good golly, Ms Molly!” or “Hot diggity dog!” when you manage a particularly satisfying combo.
While this is neither the deepest of games nor the most visually polished, it’s that injection of personality, its revelling in simplicity, and the focussed nature of the end product that wins out. In combination, they fashion one of the most fun iOS titles we’ve played in some time. On that basis, unless you hate fun or only play games that fling so many polygons about that their leads may as well audition for parts in the next Pixar flick, do yourself a favour and download Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! right now.
Hot diggity dog indeed.