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Odd Bot Out review: Charming physics-based puzzler

Kid-friendly, and kid-like platformer pleases all round

You are a robot on the production line. A height-measuring system is the final barrier between you and the outside. The units in front of you are being admitted one-by-one with a ‘Yes’ and an open door – until you step forward. The system says ‘No,’ and you are thrown into the scrap heap along with the rest of the rejected robots. You’ve got to work with other robots, blocks, wheels and switches to build contraptions that will get you out of each chamber and into the next and eventually make your escape.

You press and drag to manipulate objects in the game world in the same way that you move your character. You only have to see an object on the screen to use or move it. Blocks will ‘snap’ to each other if pushed together, forming one object. This allows you to create stairs at the basic level, and increasingly more complex structures as you progress.


The robot’s eye follows everything the player does

Other robots will move around just like your own when dragged. The way their feet fall is hilarious the first time you play; excitedly stumbling to keep up with their central chassis as it moves with your finger. You spend the whole game clumsily smashing into walls – and no, it doesn’t get old.

The puzzles are for the most part extremely clever, and use very few pieces to create a wide array of different scenarios. For example, the same blocks and switches that are used to create a car with an extendable roof (like that of a fire engine) can and are used to create an elevator on another level. Switches come in two forms; pressure plates and buttons. As long as there is weight or force acting directly on a pressure plate, it will activate whatever it is wired to. A button reacts to the player’s touch wherever the robot is standing. You can drag the circuitry of both of these around to re-wire the system and make it do your bidding.


Manipulating switches can be great fun

The player’s robot is unnamed (but ‘Odd Bot’ will do for now), and there is no dialogue. Nevertheless, the game has a personality that is seldom seen in most games. Its minimalist graphical style seems to emphasize the giant eyes on the robots, and makes them seem almost human. It’s hard not to attach an innocence to them, as they stumble about and bump into each other. That’s a big yet subtle part of the appeal of the game. It’s light on the writing and sound, but still manages to make you care about what’s happening on the screen.

It’s full of moments of discovery. Each time you are given a new feature, you aren’t held by the hand, you’re just given the pieces you need to complete the puzzle and are left to figure it out. This means a lot of messing around with blocks, wheels and switches which – ignoring the electric circuits bit – feels like being a child with its experimentation. It’s captivating. On top of that, the difficulty feels about right. You’re never plunged into something completely alien to you, and new gameplay elements are introduced at a good rate. It doesn’t get stale, and it has great pacing.

Crowd surfing... robot style

Crowd surfing… robot style

The biggest problem has to be the restart button. At the top right of the screen there is a circular button that allows you to start the level from the beginning. This is useful whenever you find yourself stuck and unable to complete a puzzle. However, there isn’t an ‘Are you sure?’ dialogue. That means you can accidentally hit restart when simply trying to do something in the top-right of the screen. This was a particular problem on an iPhone 5 screen, and will be less so on a 6 or 6 Plus, but it’s still irritating. A ‘Yes or No’ option when you press that button would go a long way.

There is a portrait mode, but it restricts your view

There is a portrait mode, but it restricts your horizontal view a lot

The game has exactly 100 levels, most of which are great but there are a few bad eggs. There are two or three that you simply cannot complete without dying and restarting because you need to fall into a pit to see what is beneath you. That is, unless you get the notion to put the device into portrait, which isn’t necessarily obvious if you’ve been playing the whole game in landscape.

Details aside, Odd Bot Out is a clever, kid-friendly puzzle game with a steady difficulty curve. There are a few flaws, but that should in no way discourage you from playing what is a fun and very thought-provoking puzzle game.

Price: $1.99/£1.49
Size: 10.6 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iOS Universal
Developer: Martin Magni

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