Action platformers are favorite genre of mine. Ever since the days of Portal, I’ve always sought out these games as they typically provide 2 things: challenging puzzles that make you think outside the box and a fun narrative. The Girl with the Robot is no different as it is heavy on puzzles and essentially provides a co-op experience for single player.
The Girl with the Robot was funded through Kickstarter and developed and published by Flying Carpet Games. This is Flying Carpet Games first game and it does kind of show, but more on that later. The game was released on Steam, PS4, and Wii U in 2016. As always, I’m not sure if there are any differences between the versions (although I doubt it), but for today’s review, I’ll be focusing in the PS4 version.
The story is a rather simple one. You play as the titular girl as you try to escape a castle ruled by an evil queen. Along the way, she obtains a pendant that allows her to remotely control a mysterious robot. Both characters begin the game by being locked away in cages until they are freed. The girl must use the robot to solve puzzles and defend herself from bad robots as she attempts to escape the castle.
There are 4 main levels of the game: the castle area that you’re locked away in, the kingdom itself, a maze, and the castle throne room area. The original Kickstarter had stretch goals and extra game content was included for each goal met. Since the project got $30k, the developers decided to add a maze level. I’m sure I’m not the only one to think this but I HATE MAZES. It just arbitrarily lengthens the game and serves to annoy the players. The maze in this game is no different. There are bad robots in most of the dead ends and, if you’re not careful, they can sneak up on the girl and grab her, leading to an instant game over.
There is no spoken dialogue in the game and everything is left up to interpretation from character actions and expressions. Spoilers, but the game never gets into why the girl is locked away or why the evil queen is the way she is. I also feel like this needs to be stated since it isn’t mentioned on the cover art or the title, again slight spoilers, but this game is Part 1 of a supposedly larger story. The player isn’t privy to this information until he or she beats the game, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I haven’t seen anything related to The Girl and the Robot Part 2, but the developers are taking a break from this series to begin working on a different game. I’m thinking we may never see the 2nd part of this story.
The game plays as a 3rd person action platformer. As the little girl, you can run, jump, fit through tiny openings, control the robot and even heal him. As the robot, you can hack and slash your way through opposing robots, shoot a bow and arrow, push heavy objects, and carry the little girl around. The girl and the robot have to work together as a cohesive unit in order to survive robot fights and solve puzzles. The robot makes up for what the girl lacks and vice versa. The girl actually has an impressive vertical leap but she doesn’t do much to defend herself. Whereas the robot can’t really jump at all but he has the means for defending himself and the little girl.
Instead of giving the robot the ability to jump, the developers decided that he should have rocket boosts. While rocket boots sound cool, they don’t allow the robot to fly around the area. Instead, the robot is able to quickly move in whichever direction the joystick is held while pressing “X”. This move allows you to a) quickly dodge an enemy’s attack and b) cancel a move in case you’re about to get attacked. The boost comes at a small price however. Boosting around causes the white gem on his back to turn red.
The gem on the robot’s back indicates the robot’s health. If it turns to a flashing red, you need to avoid getting hit again until it turns back to white. If you get hit while the gem is flashing, you lose a piece of your armor. If you get hit after you lose your helmet, gauntlets, and leg pieces, the robot will explode and you’ll get a game over. The girl doesn’t not have any form of health. For her, its mostly a 1-hit kill. When a bad robot grabs the girl, it’s an instant game over. If you jump from too high of a spot the girl will instantly keel over. It was actually kind of funny the first time it happened, mostly because it was so unexpected.
There are three enemy types in the game that you have to watch out for. There are normal sentry robots in bronze colored armor. These are the easiest bots to dispose of and don’t generally cause the player too much grief. There are sentries in a darker armor that have larger shields, heavier armor, and pole arms. These guys are a lot tougher than their bronze counterparts and, in my opinion are the toughest enemies in the game. They can block most attacks and can also attack while blocking. The last enemy type is the kamikaze sentry. These guys will charge at the player once they spot you. Once they catch up their first instinct is to explode next to the character. Most enemies only take a few hits to defeat, with the exception of the heavy armor sentries. To add to the threat, the player needs to be careful as all of the sentries explode when defeated. The explosion will damage the player. One bright side to this is the explosion can also affect other enemy sentries.
There are 3 different types of attacks the robot can perform: a sword swipe combo, attack with a bow and arrow, and a back attack. The back attack is an instant K.O. for all enemies, but it can only be performed by approaching an enemy from behind (which normally only occurs if you can sneak up on the sentry).
The characters can run by pressing the square button. The characters move very quick and I noticed that they tend to drift while running. This is an issue when you’re running on tight platforms as the character tends to move closer to the edges when I wasn’t directing them there.
The game is a very short experience and it can be beaten within 4-5 hours. In fact, the game can probably closer to the 4 hours if the player isn’t interested in achievements/trophies. The puzzles in the game range from simple to a slightly moderate difficulty. I never had too many issues when trying to figure things out. As I mentioned earlier about seeking out action platformers for challenging puzzles, this game’s puzzles don’t necessarily fall within the “think outside the box category,” but they are challenging and take a bit of thought to solve.
The only areas I had trouble with were the maze section and final section of the game. There are actually 3 different mazes within the maze section. Like I said before, I hate mazes, so 1 would have been more than enough. The main issue I have with the maze section is the position of the enemy sentries. Sometimes they are located in areas that the robot can’t go and they’re stationed right near the opening that the girl has to go through. I got a few instant game overs while I had to switch to the girl to access new areas. You can snipe some of the enemies from up high, but you can’t always see the enemies from a high vantage point.
The final section of the game was a bit of an issue for me because nothing is called out well. There is a castle that is surrounded by water and it’s apparently shallow enough for the robot to walk in. This is the first occurrence in the game that I’m aware of so it led to a bit of confusion on my part. I spent a lot of time looking for ways to enter the castle as the robot, only to find I could go in the water and access an area that I thought was inaccessible.
There are 2 boss fights in the game and both feature the evil queen. The first fight is against the evil queen and her doppelganger sentry. The evil sentry is invincible, so fighting him head-on just leads to failure. The main fight takes place between the little girl and the witch herself. You have to avoid the witch and lead her to a path where you can fire a cannon at her. Activating the cannon does not freeze the witch in place, so you have to be quick to fire as the witch moves pretty fast. If the witch catches the girl, then it’s instant game over. Once you shoot the witch, it freezes her and her sentry. You’re able to get a few swings of your sword on the sentry. Repeat 3 times and you won the match.
The 2nd fight takes place in the throne room on a bunch of changing platforms. The platforms change once you hit the witch. You have to locate an isolated area for the girl to stand on and map out the best path for the robot to take to attack the witch. There are more evil sentries that get in the way and attempt to knock your robot off. Again, do this 3 times and you win. This fight is much easier than the first one.
The platforming feels a bit lacking throughout the game. This isn’t Super Mario so there isn’t much running and jumping over huge gaps (In fact, there really aren’t that many gaps to jump over). The fighting seems kind of shoehorned in as well. There’s really not a lot of strategy, just hack away at enemies and hope for the best. There are situations where the player is faced with attacking a large group of robots at once. These fights tend to be a pain because there is no way to block once you start getting wailed on. It’s these situations where you realize that you die pretty quickly.
The art style of the game is pretty unique. It looks like a hand-painted art style and I honestly think it looks pretty nice. The music is enjoyable as well. It probably won’t be remembered as a classic video game song, but it is fitting for the game. The PlayStation version that I purchased came with the soundtrack, so that’s pretty neat. Like I said earlier, there is no spoken dialogue in the game either. It’s sometimes hard to understand what’s going on, but the player should be able to infer things pretty easily given the character’s actions and expressions.
Again, the fact that this game ends on a cliffhanger was a bit of a surprise for me. There is nothing to indicate this throughout the game the game ends pretty abruptly as well. I was hoping that it would answer a few of the questions that I had about the story. Hopefully we see a follow-up to address what happened here.
All-in-all, even though there were a few things I didn’t enjoy about the gameplay I did enjoy the overall experience. The combat felt a bit lackluster, but, with a little polishing, I think Flying Carpet Games has something good on their hands. I do hope we eventually get a part 2 to continue the story. I would like to see what happens to the girl and the robot.
That being said, I give The Girl and the Robot 3 robot sentries out of 5.