I didn’t know what to expect from a game called Drunken Robot Pornography (DRP). I suspected it might be based off of some obscure Japanese anime, featuring a gang of adolescent introverts obsessed over giant Evangelion-esque robots. After playing the game I realized I wasn’t far from my mark, as DRP is a game centered around one of gaming’s most defining tropes: giant robot boss battles.
The levels are broken out into individual, self-contained challenges. It’s a first-person shooter and you have a jetpack, and each stage is a multi-tiered jungle gym in which you bounce around and blast away at endless waves of enemies. It doesn’t take long after you begin the stage for the boss, always in the form of a giant, menacing robot, to appear and the real fight to begin.
While there’s technically a story in DRP, it mostly hangs in your periphery as you focus on mastering the mechanics of the movement and combat. Littered within each stage are power-ups that enhance your abilities, such as extending the boost of your jetpack and increasing your weapon’s fire rate, I found you need to capitalize on to help you succeed against what I found to be extremely challenging boss battles.
Completing each stage is not as straight-forward as simply staying alive long enough to deplete the boss’s health. The stages are timed so you also have to be swift in carrying out your attack, which is tough when you’re constantly on the move, avoiding enemy fire and chasing power-ups. The bosses tend to levitate toward the top end of the stage, so you’re constantly trying to reach the highest ground possible. This is where the true challenge of DRP lies; zipping around with your jetpack from platform to platform, avoiding incoming fire while dumping on the boss and its minions swarming around you requires agility and focus. Missteps result in taking damage from enemies, which will of course kill you if you take enough of it, but also in falling to the bottom of the stage which wastes precious time.
While the premise of DRP is interesting and the gameplay challenging, I felt the level design left a lot to be desired. It’s frustrating to be constantly fighting the controls, not because they’re bad, but because your attention is split between maneuvering around the stage and shooting stuff. It requires that you spend time mastering each stage (at least the difficult ones), but the path to mastery is marred by the nagging balancing act of the action. Also, the bosses themselves are somewhat cookie-cutter, at least in function, so sometimes it can get repetitive.
The giant robot bosses look really cool, though, and you can tell the developers put a lot of work into the visual presentation of them.DRP follows a fortunate trend in the indie game scene and boasts an interesting visual style and an electric soundtrack. It’s certainly fun to look at, and the array of electronic beats suit the style of the game perfectly.
Comic relief comes from a robot partner who you never see but is always talking, usually alerting you when your health is low but also taking the time to crack jokes that are actually funny. There’s a recurring joke about our protagonists’ sexuality that made me chuckle at least a few times during my play-through.
Perhaps what will prove to be DRP’s most attractive feature is its editor, which allows you to build your own levels and robots, and share them via an in-game interface or through the Steam Workshop. Even ahead of the official release there are dozens of player made stages to download. It’s hard to argue the sheer amount of value this adds to the game’s humble $15 price tag.
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Drunken Robot Pornography is a game that is bursting with style but somewhat lacking in substance. After a while the gameplay gets a bit repetitive as, after all, each stage is essentially a glorified boss fight. Still, there's a great challenge and lots of fun to be had here, and the packed in editor almost certainly guarantees that interesting new content will always be right around the corner.