Browser-based games are becoming bolder and bolder with time, and I'd say that Killbot! is a prime example of this trend. Not only does it provide its players with a unique, sometimes-silly story, it possesses ambitious level design, an interesting physics engine and far more secrets than the average browser game. The future is looking bright.
Picture this. You're a robot. No, more than that - you're a Killbot. You've just been created, but you're not sure if you want to be killing so much, so you decide to break out of your enclosure at U.S. Killbotics and see the world, one job at a time.
Yep. That's Killbot!
Killbot! actually boasts a fairly expansive story that's consistently present via a series of messages left behind for Killbot in the environment. Consequently, you start to feel for the little guy after a while, as you get the sense that he's starving for something other than the life of a death-dealing machine.
The game play underneath this story is a little different from what you'd expect of a game called Killbot!, however. This title is a puzzler, requiring its players to run and jump their way through six levels, using their programmed telekinesis to manipulate movable objects while looking for an exit. It's a big puzzle with heavy elements of item collecting, in short, and a damn fun one at that.
I wish I could push this part of the review closer to the end, but I have to follow format. The control scheme of Killbot! is, by far, the game's most troublesome aspect.
In theory, moving Killbot and manipulating the environment is simple. A and D move him about, W makes him jump, and the mouse allows you to pick up objects and carry them around. Hit SPACE while an item's in the air and it will freeze in place. (Remember this last bit of info, it's crucial to simplifying your life.)
In practice, this control scheme is unwieldy and problematic. Everything WORKS, yes, but... not as well as you'll want. Killbot has an extremely irritating tendency to slide when he moves around, which isn't a problem unless you're trying to jump. Which happens often. Try to land on something small and you'll almost always overshoot it or slide right off the first couple of times. Aggravating, this is.
I had similar problems with carrying items. Depending on the object, movement can range from simple (say, a tiny box) to VERY ANNOYING (a length of pipe - in my experience, the longer an item, the more difficult it is to maneuver). The primary problem is that things like to spin a lot, meaning they'll get jammed in tight corridors and force you to reevaluate your strategy.
All that said, I really did enjoy steering Killbot around. Playing with his weird telekinetic powers is great in open areas, and allows for some innovative puzzle-solving opportunities when used in conjunction with the freezing ability. Just don't expect to be universally floored by the experience.
I can see some people hating the way Killbot! looks. I, however, thought it was great. Everything resembles a doodle on lined paper, albeit one that's in motion on the page. The aesthetic perfectly encapsulates a journey such as Killbot's, particularly given that there are messages scrawled on the walls everywhere he goes. The environments are also rich with detail, including a lot of objects that are present simply to fill out the levels - objects that you can have fun chucking around.
Special mention should be given to the game's reliance on outfits. Every now and then you'll run across barriers that require Killbot to dress up as a human to get by, forcing the pink wanderer to don hairstyles, hats, glasses, clothes and other such articles in weird combinations. It's a neat mechanic, and it underscores Killbot's desire to be more than just a killer. I can appreciate a dress-up system that's deeper than mere appearance.
Killbot! barely has any ambient sounds, so I'll focus on the soundtrack. The expansive, impressive, incredibly fleshed-out soundtrack.
Most browser games scrape by with three or four songs at most. Killbot!, by contrast, has a ton of unlockable tracks, the majority of which I quite enjoyed. (My personal favourite was 'Winter is Coming'.) No two tunes sound alike, either, and you can switch between them at will, a touch I very much enjoyed, as constant repetition of one song during a level can drive me batty.
And the best part? You can find new songs in each level by completing certain side tasks. I would venture to say that half the purpose of playing Killbot! is finding all the music in the game... and then, y'know, buying said music on iTunes.
Killbot! isn't a terribly difficult game, but it IS long. It took me about an hour to complete the base game, and that was without collecting all of the extras. (That comes after I'm done with this review.) It's a beefy experience, and more than fun enough to justify the extra exploration, as you seldom have to go TOO far out of your way to gather the extras.
As mentioned earlier, the real challenge in Killbot! is struggling with the controls. The puzzles aren't too hard: it's wrestling the elements need to solve those puzzles that's difficult. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that players have been forced to restart levels because of objects stuck on the game's geography, though I, fortunately, didn't run into that trouble.
Despite its shortcomings, Killbot! is a worthy browser game, and should be played by anyone with a keyboard and mouse. The story is great, the game play a lot of fun and the presentation fantastic. (I was listening to the music the whole time I wrote this review. Can't say that's been true of any other game.) If you like a good head scratcher, Killbot!'s the game to play.