Explore an industrialised dystopia in this new puzzle game.
Monobot is a 2D puzzle game where you play as a robot amidst a dystopian, industrial world. It's a fairly cookie-cutter title, but it works well, especially for developer DreamSmith's first release, with engaging puzzles and a believable, well-crafted world.
Performance-wise, Monobot is fine, but I did find that controls feel sluggish and unresponsive, particularly with abilities activating half a second later than expected. This did mean I found some of the gameplay frustrating, especially when it concerned using these abilities.
The world of Monobot is a series of monochrome - or at the very least visually-muted - industrial landscapes which reinforce the themes of the game, particularly identity. It's not long before you come across a corpse-pile of disabled Monobots, and your sense of self is thrown into question. It's a typical robot story but it always works for me, and there are enough surprises and ideas here to keep you interested, with logs providing some backstory and a reason to explore.
The locations include the beginning laboratory and an industrial wasteland of sorts, and while each is generally unique, with new puzzles and encounters, they can become monotonous. While this could be considered reflective of the game's themes, it would have been welcome to have a more diverse set of areas.
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In exploring these areas, you'll have plenty of time to absorb the game's art style, which is realistic and seamless, something like the drab halls of the Portal series. One issue I found with the style was that environment interactables blended into each other, so it was sometimes difficult to traverse areas. Otherwise, the art style suits it well and does its job of situating you in an oppressive machine world. This is particularly apparent in the backgrounds of each stage, with dynamic elements creating a cohesive, convincing world. For example, the laboratory having moving claw machines transporting goods, or the factory with its many robots being carried overhead.
Monobot is primarily a puzzle game, and the puzzles remain interesting and engaging throughout. While some can be unnecessarily difficult - such as one early on where I struggled to reconcile the sense of scale with what I was being asked to do (I didn't realise standing on a box meant I could reach a hook point) - they aren't generally hard and make use of the game's abilities. These are found as you progress, the first, for example, being a magnetic grappling hook that allows you to swing off lights onto platforms or over enemies. Other puzzles take the form of minigames, like connecting a circuit, or rolling a ball through a set of pipes. We've all seen these sorts of puzzles before, but the familiarity is welcome. After a short while, you'll also get to commandeer a vehicle that will be used in some platforming puzzles.
These enemies are not particularly varied but are well-designed, with some unique mechanics such as having sentries to detect your presence before advancing to your position. This is used in some puzzles to draw enemies towards you and then for you to find a way over or around.
Overall, Monobot is a fairly short ten to fifteen-hour adventure which will keep you interested with mechanics, abilities, and puzzles until the end. I would have hoped for more unique elements, but ultimately the experience is well put together and fun. The environments are especially well-designed and offer a dynamic backdrop for the gameplay.
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7 / 10
Engaging puzzles. Seamless realist art-style. Dynamic environments do a good job of creating an oppressive atmosphere.
Controls can feel unresponsive. Nothing much unique. Environment elements can blend into each other.