I will admit the idea behind MicroBot had me excited to get into it. I am a child of the 80s and have fond memories of a movie called Innerspace. The concept isn’t far from that movie where you are injected into a human body as a microscopic ship to fight off infection. Yeah I know it truly sounds like a win/win concept. Unfortunately MicroBot loses its appeal shortly after injection and what we are left with is a disappointing twin-stick shooter that fails to ever capitalize on its potential.
Unlike my childhood movie fixation MicroBot actually puts you in control of a tiny robotic ship not manned by Dennis Quaid. The idea is definitely where the appeal begins. You are on a mission to fight off an infection of robot proportions. Along the way you will buy upgrades for your ship including new weapons and thrusters to help you navigate through the body with the quickness. The game has all the trimmings of your standard twin-stick shooter combined with an interesting concept that hasn’t been played out. The problems begin to arise once you settle into the game and begin to realize that the fun simply never materializes.
The gameplay is much of what you would expect from the genre. You move your ship with the left stick while the right stick is used for attacking. At first things feel sluggish because, well they are. The game relies on upgrades to make it play better, which was the first sign of trouble, not to mention one of my pet peeves. Aside from that you can customize your ship to combat a number of different enemy types. The problem lies in the fact that you only have so many custom slots and very few places to change them up. This usually leads to you finding one style that suits your needs and disposing foes in other fashions, completely eliminating the strategy behind the weapons system.
This feels par for the course here as so much of the game feels unbalanced and unpolished. The main game is broken down into five chapters with four levels each. The journey is fun at first, but quickly becomes tedious thanks to bland level design and increasingly difficult enemies. Yes your ship can be upgraded, but more often than not you are unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead. The puzzles are about as basic as you can imagine and each level serves only to test your patience with its mediocrity. I really wanted to love the game but when you have worn out your welcome by the second stage, it does not bode well down the line.
The one saving grace comes in the form of local co-op. The game does liven up a bit when you have some help for the more frustrating parts. Unfortunately even this mode is limited by only being available from the same couch. Online and some more diversity would have gone a long way, but as it stands you can only share your experience if you have a second controller and someone willing to join in.
Visually the game looks nice even if it is a bit repetitive. The frame rate remains solid for the most part and you really feel like you are inside the innards of the human body. The creepy music sets the tone nicely at first, but tends to fall flat in the later levels. Probably most disappointing is the clever story comprised at the beginning quickly takes a backseat the further you get into the game. It feels as if the developers had a really good idea and forgot to move forward with it.
MicroBot is the kind of game you hate to see fail because it really is trying something new and exciting. The premise behind the game will get you excited, but the gameplay and repetitive design will quickly deflate your aspirations. The frustrating enemies and cumbersome upgrade system will wear on your nerves, and the bland level design will not give you much reason to push forward. There are much better shooters currently available, which is a shame given this one’s promise of ingenuity.
Review copy provided by publisher.