Loneliness is a state of being that everyone has experienced at some point in their life. It is a simple fact that part of being human means that there will be a time when you feel as if you are without an other, void of any companionship or community. It can be something brief and fleeting, like being away from your parents on the first day of school. Or it can feel like it will last for an eternity, such as when you lose someone very close to you. It is a feeling that can be overwhelming, sometimes crippling. You can be surrounded by others and feel like nothing more than an anonymous face only to be forgotten seconds after you leave. Can robots be lonely? Upwards, Lonely Robot seems to think yes based on the title, and without further existential robotics questions such as do androids dream of electric sheep, let’s get down to business.
This game is a puzzle platformer where you guide a jumping robot up a tower. The basic gameplay is straightforward and simple, the thumbstick moves and a button jumps, and if you are using a keyboard setup it is equally simple. Each tower you climb has various obstacles that try to prevent you from reaching the top. Among these are several other robots that for whatever reason resemble insects, along with spikes, acid drops, and a really nasty purple cloud of death. On top of this, you cannot spend too much time stopping to take in the majestic view since your energy meter is constantly draining. Collecting fruit on the way up the tower restores energy, though I did have to wonder how exactly fruit would recharge a robot. At first I thought maybe the robot was a juicer before it became the bouncing spherical contraption you control, but I couldn’t figure out how that would relate to generating power. My next theory was in a former life it was a breadmaker, and its creator was environmentally aware and built it to run on E-85. You collect fruit to make hooch with the leftover yeast in the bread making parts, which gives it the fuel to scale the tower. Sadly, as the story unfolded I saw no mention of this. The good news the story is much better than the nonsense I have included here. I do not want to go into much detail because I don’t want to ruin it, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well storytelling was incorporated into this. Every tower you complete you are given a small snippet from a journal, and as you complete more towers everything is gradually pieced together.
This is simply a very fun game. The story, and how the developers went about telling it, adds depth and interest to the experience. Besides the question about the fruit, I did have other questions in the early levels like why is the robot trying to reach a tree at the top of a tower and why it is lonely? I wondered why there were no other robots besides the insect robots, and thought maybe something like the holocaust from the beginning of Terminator 2 wiped out all the other artificially intelligent robots, which would be somewhat ironic. All these questions are answered by the end of the game, and it is an enjoyable climb up the towers to unlock the story. The build I played featured four difficulty levels and a few challenge modes, including a multiplayer race to the top. The environment and robot enemies look very detailed, the music is well done and fits the game. The only real complaint is there is the same music for each level, at least in the version I played. It is a good piece of music, but can get monotonous if you are binge playing.
I am not going to give a score for this game because I did not play the final build so some aspects are subject to change between now and its release, but based on what I played it would be a high score. Currently this game is scheduled for a March release with a target price point around $10. Again, subject to change. There is a lot of replay value to this title after you complete the story mode, so I am anticipating this will be a good value for the asking price. This is one I highly recommend keeping an eye open for. Twitterpate me