This mix of arena shooter and shmup hits the mark more often than not
Drunken Robot Pornography has a unique concept to go along with its memorable title. You take control of Reuben Mastumoto, who is having a real bad day. He accidentally made his robot bartender, Tim, self-aware and presumably being slightly freaked out by this, Tim burned down Reuben's bar and stole all the other robot staff members.
Now Reuben has to defend Boston from Tim and the awesome titans he's created from the former bar staff. The premise of Drunken Robot Pornography is absurd but it's the basis of a solid game that blends the massive bosses of a bullet-hell shmup and the tight first-person shooter arenas of something like Quake III.
Drunken Robot Pornography (PC)
Developer Dejobaan Games has a long history of making games with crazy titles like AaAaAA!! - A Reckless Disregard For Gravity and its offshoot 1... 2... 3.. KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby). After a period of gestation and development on Steam's Early Access section, Drunken Robot Pornography has finally been released for us to enjoy.
Whilst the story of Reuben and Tim's conflict is played mainly for laughs, it never impinges on the action. There's some amusing chat that you'll hear at the start, or during a level, between Reuben and his jetsuit and there's some voicemails that help flesh out the story. The meat and bones of the game is really fighting the giant mechs in the various arenas.
Working from arena to arena, players will either be challenged to eliminate a titan (or titans) or blast as many enemies as possible to hit a points target. The levels are pretty open with a mix of floating platforms, towers, and ledges to leap to and from and there's a generous selection of jump-pads littered around too. These are really helpful as taking down a titan will often require you to get up high. Of course, there is more to the game than that.
Titans won't usually arrive until a certain amount of points have been scored, usually by destroying waves of smaller enemy bots or by picking up expensive Martinis. Enemies include slow-moving homing mines, missile-firing drones, and robotic snakes but they usually won't spawn until you grab a power-up or start collecting points which means you can spend a bit of time scouting out the layout of the level for clues as to how you're going to approach the stage.
Initially the gun you're given feels lightweight and weak but once you've picked up a Rapid Fire, Triple Fire, and maybe even a Heavy Fire boost, you'll be blasting through titans with ease. Quite often the available power-ups will give you clues as to how to approach the level.
For instance, an early level had plenty of jet power-ups which made sense as the titan's main attack was laying mines on the ground. After a couple of failed tries, it became obvious that the best approach was to stay off the ground and just blast the titan from the air. However, most of the time the best approach is just to keep shooting and keep moving.
Destroying a titan isn't as easy as just spraying it with as many bullets as possible -- what you're actually trying to do is to blast off its extremities to expose the center, then destroy it.
The game tries to help by having the bits you can blow off flash red until they're destroyed and at the start of the game, this works just fine as the titans are fairly small in size. Later in the game, however, they are absolutely massive. With the sheer amount of stuff happening on-screen, whether it's huge laser beams or waves of smaller enemies, it's sometimes hard to know where you should really be aiming.
Movement itself is a bit tricky; the main way to get around is short stabs on Reuben's jet suit combined with many jump pads skirting around the arenas. However, moving on foot feels a bit cumbersome. Now there isn't too much reason to run around a level but you'll often find Martinis on small ledges that you'd think would be easy to just run along but it feels trickier than it should.
Drunken Robot Pornography throws in a few tweaks to the basic gameplay every now and again, like some later stages that have you collecting respawning alcohol drops from a level in order to reach a points goal. If you take any damage however, you'll drop your precious booze and all the points you've accrued. Whilst it made for a nice change in pace, some of the later examples of these levels are teeth-gnashingly frustrating as you can pick up plenty of alcohol only to get a stray bullet in the back and lose it all.
Steam Workshop is used well in the game; you can download player-created mechs and arenas to pit your skills against in the Challenges section. There's also an Endless Titan survival mode and the Cocktail Hunter game type to try out. Some of the user-created titans are impressive, ranging from massive, squid-like robots to gleaming, metal dinosaurs and the tools on offer are versatile.
Drunken Robot Pornography sticks to its core gameplay hook of small arenas and big robots for you to destroy really well. There is good mix of fast action and on-the-fly strategy. You have to make good use of the boosts available and go into combat utilizing the arena's layout to your advantage. What can let the game down are feelings of being totally overwhelmed as you die in 30 seconds amid pillars of lasers, red glowing missiles, and a huge titan in the center of the screen.
While the difficulty curve is smartly placed overall, there are some levels where you'll feel you've hit a brick wall and will have to try over and over again. Still, the leaderboards will offer dedicated players a reason to keep coming back and doing exactly that. Considering that Drunken Robot Pornography has seemingly spawned its own bullet-hell FPS subgenre, it's admirable that the game does what it sets out to do rather well.
THE VERDICT - Drunken Robot Pornography
Reviewed by Alasdair Duncan