Death Is Not The End
You are going to die. After that, you’ll die again. Not long following your last death, be ready for another. They’ll be coming in waves.
That is of course unless you hone your reaction time to a razor’s edge. Yet, even then you’ll still find yourself falling short every now and then. However, there are lessons in failure, and the chance to try again with more fervour than before. Each time, you can come back stronger.
Space Robinson is a roguelite title from Luxorix Games, where combat is fast, enemies are relentless and you need to be prepared for anything.
For those that may need some distinction between roguelikes and lites. In a roguelike, the biggest characteristic would be that death is permanent. Whatever skills or items you picked up in your run will go into the ether alongside you. Whereas in a roguelite, there will always be a least one thing that remains after failure. Be it items, or more often XP and skills.
A Stranger in a Strange Land
In Space Robinson, you play as an engineer traveling across the expanse of space to a far off colony. Unfortunately for you, your spaceship experiences a major system failure (apparently it’s a single use model). You survive your crash and make it to the colony, but the planet is far from welcoming. Establishing your base is going to take work, and expeditions into the wilds of a hostile planet.
Technology is advanced enough that death isn’t permanent. Cloning technology means that when your fall victim to the many bloodthirsty creatures you awaken anew in the main base of Colony 21.
Get Back on That Horse
This is where the roguelite element comes into play. You aren’t seeing the planet for the first time at the beginning of a run. Instead, you respawn with the knowledge and abilities you’ve gained through experience. Every death grants XP that can be used to upgrade things like your weapon damage, critical hit chances, and the value of drops during your runs. Although nothing spectacular, these skills at least provide a feeling of progression.
Your skills make every run a little bit more manageable, which is more than welcome as Space Robinson is not an easy adventure. The curves of difficulty are closer to straight lines running at near 90-degree angles. It’s a run-and-gun style game where you need to juggle aggression and the weaving through enemy attacks. It can be exhilarating at its height, with gunfire, explosions and all manner of beasts chasing after, or spewing projectiles at you. Combat is really fun in this regard and is elevated by a great variety of weapons and perks.
There are a number of offensive options at your disposal. Space Robinson’s levels are procedurally generated, meaning layouts and enemy distribution will be different every time you jump in. More importantly, though, you’ll be able to get your hands on a different set of weapons every run too. Such as ice machine guns that have an impressive rate of fire, while having the chance of freezing enemies in place. Or a gun sort of like an arc projector, that shoots out lightning which can do chain damage. Perfect for when waves of enemies are rushing you. These are only two out of a list that includes snipers, shotguns, grenade launchers, SMGs, and rifles. Each with variations of attachments.
The other thing that keeps things fresh, while increasing your survivability and damage output are perks which are distributed per level. However, which ones you get are dependent on RNG. Some perks include increasing max HP or adding bullet spreads to melee damage. Some semblance of control of perks, comes in the form of a colony garden. Certain seeds can be planted for perks. Such as a consistent seed providing limited protection from projectiles. This combination of random weapons and perks really helped the longevity and fun factor of Space Robinson tremendously.
There’s a great day and night cycle mechanic that sees hordes of brainy octopus looking creatures hunting you down in the dark. Your visibility is limited here making it so that you only see them when they get close. In later levels where enemies are more plentiful and aggressive, this adds another layer of danger and urgency. This can be fun, but can also easily get overwhelming when waves of baddies are coming at you from every direction.
Progression isn’t only limited to XP and skills. Your base on colony 21 is capable of being upgraded through a combination of crystal shards and finding required items on planets. This is where a feeling of grinding came through a bit. Crystals are not hard to come by, but take a while to get the number necessary for upgrades. This means a lot of gameplay is required to fully upgrade your base. Thankfully gameplay itself is a lot of fun, but it still felt like the progression of base upgrades were a bit slower than I’d like.
One thing that really stood out for me was the music. Space Robinson, sports an awesome synthwave soundtrack that’s perfect for its pixel art style and alien planet setting. Honestly, there were so many bangers that I couldn’t help bobbing my head as I went around culling the local fauna. Thank the pope that the OST is filled with bangers. With the amount of times you’ll be respawning and dying, it’s nice to have some good tracks to look forward to.
There are only three big area types you can fight through, with three levels a pop. This small number is helped by how many times you’ll run-through, and its procedural generation. However, the generation is mostly in layouts, as well as enemy, perk, item, and weapon distribution. The actual design style of the levels will be the same throughout. The first environment will always be a desert, the second a tropical forest, and the third a snowy area. This makes the visuals go stale very fast. Especially in that the environments themselves lack real visual appeal. However, at the very least there is some decent enemy design and variation to make up for it a little.
Space Robinson is a fast-paced thrill ride all the way through. It doesn’t easily get old, but can get frustrating if one lacks patience and an acceptance of failure. It’s difficult, but a lot of fun, with a killer soundtrack to go along with it.