Game

These little robots might be cute, but their faulty wiring may cause you to have a breakdown yourself

Price: Free or $2.99/£2.29 unlimited
Version: 1.0.2
Size: 36.3 MB
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Developer: Dragon Army

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It’s getting to be a habit with iOS games. You get an almost saccharine surface layer, but once you’re hooked the game smashes your brain out with all the subtlety of a brick with a smile drawn on it in pen.

In Little Broken Robots, you’re repairing malfunctioning robots. Each defective droid rocks up on a conveyor belt, offering a literal depiction of its condition. For example, a ’frozen’ robot has chattering teeth and a little snowman on its head.

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The unhappy droid is fixed by you routing wires on a circuit board. Each wire has an associated number and can be dragged along a pathway between holes aligned to a grid – and every hole must be used. All the while, the robot watches what you’re doing, gradually cheering up as you fill the board. Success results in the droid being packed up by a box-o-matic, whereupon you move on to the next repair.

It’s all rather adorable and, at first, suspiciously easy. Before long, though, the boards expand and the wires lengthen, forcing you to think long and hard about snaking routes. Do well enough and the game unlocks an advanced mode with crossover gates (which can make things very difficult), and a timed mode.

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The last of those is perfect for wiping a smug grin off of the face of anyone who thinks they’ve mastered the game. You must repair against the clock, and although the boards in this mode are small, you’ll instantly forget everything you’ve learned as the clock relentlessly ticks down.

This range of modes ensures there’s something for everyone, and although only the basic mode is initially unlocked, that makes sense, given that diving in elsewhere could be overwhelming.

Little Broken Robots is accessible in another way, too, in that it’s free. Naturally, this means IAP is lurking, but this game has one of the least obnoxious freemium models we’ve seen.

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The way it works is you get a limited amount of energy, and each repair costs you three units. You can then show up every few hours to get increasing rewards (nine through to 15 units), or watch a video ad to get an extra ten.

Only the most obsessive players are likely to run out of energy remotely often, thereby requiring repeated ad-watching. But there is an alternative – you can instead opt to pay a perfectly reasonable $2.99/£2.29 IAP to get rid of the energy system. This also unlocks endless randomized puzzles beyond the initial 50 basic and ten advanced challenges, meaning you could potentially be repairing little broken robots forever.

Review: Little Broken Robots is a superb, surprisingly tough puzzler
A beautifully designed puzzle game that’s easy to get into and that provides plenty of challenge for those who want it.
For
  • Lovely graphics and interface
  • Entirely reasonable freemium model
  • Three different game modes to try
Against
  • Hints aren’t always helpful and cost energy
4.6Overall Score