When I first read about the concept for A Robot Named Fight I was hesitant to say the least. It is necessary to be objective when reviewing games but the thought of a Metroidvania style game that was procedurally generated and roguelike just struck me as something I would hate. Much of my success in the genre has been reliant on map familiarity, power up placement, and pattern recognition.
How could I enjoy a game that hit restart on me every time I died? As it turns out, the answer is a lot.
While I was initially overwhelmed with how influenced by Super Metroid the graphics were that feeling soon faded. What was left was a mix of nostalgic impressions and an appreciation for the work put into the original assets. All of the backgrounds and location skins were well detailed and carried a bit of a dark tone thematically. Similarly, the enemy and boss designs were context and location appropriate while also carrying a bit of a demonic influence that could elicit memories of the original Doom title. For a game with so many varied and random abilities and upgrades, they were all fairly distinct from one another and easily identifiable for their use and effectiveness. As a fan of the 16-bit generation of gaming, this is a prime example of quality graphics work.
Appreciation is also necessary for the music and sound design. It is rare for me to not play my own soundtrack when running through a game without voice acting, but for this title that didn’t happen. All of the melodies were kept simple but that is in no way a negative as they were all also completely appropriate for the mood of the game. Sound effects were also spot on, from the crackling of a lightning charged weapon to the satisfying splat that a small enemy would make when crushed by a missile.
If I had one complaint about the sound it would be the voice over work done during the intro cut scene was not good. Since this was the only part of the game that provided story and it sounding like someone talking through a mechanical tube it would be been better kept as just a word crawl.
Speaking of which, the story itself was not good. The robot gods have ascended leaving the lower robots to fend for themselves. The poorly named Megabeast has invaded and spilled its minions, also poorly named, ‘meat’ onto the world. It is your job to fight back the invasion and save the planet. The reason that this did not negatively impact my opinion of the game is because it doesn’t matter. After the intro cut scene, which can be skipped, there is no need for story. Your adventure is shaped by the exploration and combat that you experience.
Those experiences are ever changing as this is a procedurally generated game. Room, enemy and power up placements are randomized whenever you begin a new run. That being said there is still some benefit to memorization as when there is an item in a room of similar structure it is usually behind the same hidden wall or breakable environment piece as before. Similarly, there are a finite number of bosses so while you never know which one you might face or when, if you play long enough you can learn all of their patterns. The bigger concern would be if you were lucky enough to get enough health upgrades or weapon abilities you like to deal with them.
This is where the progression and replay come from. Sure, a complete run of the game could take only an hour or two but being well equipped enough to do so will require multiple runs first. As you progress to new zones or beat a boss for the first time you will unlock a new power that can be obtainable, still at random, in a future playthough. Some of these unlocks, like a one-time respawn chamber, will serve vital in improving your progression. Even after the Megabeast has been defeated those who consider themselves completionists will want to keep progressing as there could more additional bosses and upgrades that have yet to be obtained. For many, the final credits will not represent being done with the title by any means.
I am so glad that I didn’t let my assumptions on the game prevent me from playing it because developer Matt Bitner knocked it out of the park with this unique game that can be viewed as a love letter to Super Metroid and so much more. At the low release price of $9.99 this is an easy recommendation. Any fan of the aforementioned title, the genre as a whole, or just solid retro gaming should already be playing this game.