This was a welcome change to all the shooting, racing and mayhem I am so used to causing in my PS4 universe. When we were giving a review code for The Girl and The Robot (TGATR), I was a bit sceptical that I would enjoy a game like this compared to what I am used to playing. But after running around the first few areas, I quickly became addicted to the puzzling nature of the game that teased my brain every step of the way. Pretty soon, my family members were fighting for a chance to play it on their profiles, or butting in to tell me how to solve intricate puzzles.
Before we start with the review, let’s have a look at the initial gameplay for you to get an idea of what it’s like.
As you start the game, you are given the premise of the story. You are a little girl trapped in a castle, by an evil queen and an old man opens the door to your room / prison when you help a little bird out. As you wander out, you find a robot that you can harness with a special gem. Your goal: find a way out of the castle towards your freedom.
It is an engaging little tale, one that gives me fond memories of the Prince of Persia for some reason, however illogical that may sound. Maybe it’s the yellow stained walls, or the puzzles to negotiate throughout the castle. One thing is for sure: their bond becomes adorable from the start and just grows as the story evolves. You’re already biting back the tears wondering what will happen to the Robot when she does find her freedom.
When I started running around from my small bedroom prison, I was initially worried. The controls felt so simple and there was nothing to tell me what to do, where to go and what my mission was. It is so minimal in design, that it’s actually beautiful. When I reached areas where knowing what a button did actually mattered, I was introduced to what the action was that I could do. They don’t waste time teaching you everything from the start, but rather only when you need it.
The main essence of this game are the puzzles. Once you find the robot, you are already treated to the first puzzle: how to get the robot out of its encasing bars. When you free it and learn how to swap between robot and girl, the puzzles get more intense. My wife compares it to Ilomilo, where you also had to use two characters in varying stages to free both of them using puzzles and switches.
The control and mechanisms for the girl and the robot are so different that you need to learn each of their skills early on. The girl is more passive in nature, being able to crawl through holes, and can jump up and over objects. The robot is more aggressive, wielding a mighty sword and shield to bash through enemies and use a bow for some of the more trickier puzzles.
This gorgeous fairy tale mechanic is what makes this game so enjoyable, and even though the controls for each character are rather minimal, it just gives you more time to focus on how to pass all the challenges that lie ahead.
GRAPHICS, SOUND & ATMOSPHERE
Alright, so maybe the graphics are also very minimal. There’s nothing terrible about it though, and many of the visuals are rather stunning. However, many of the textures, walls and floors are rehashed throughout the different areas and you aren’t exactly spoiled for choice. Yet, the graphics are still beautiful to behold and do not drown you in graphic overload to the point that you forgot what the story was.
The sound is minimal too. There are some background music numbers, but no vocal dialogue. This has led to my children asking “What does it say??” everytime dialogue pops up, meaning it’s time for daddy to read to them as if I were telling a bedtime story.
The minimal graphics and the music do lend a stunning atmosphere together though, and are much calmer than the other hardcore games I’ve been playing of late. It has a soothing quality, to the point where taking down some enemy robots even feels like a passive action.
As mentioned before, this is the heart of the game. Sure, there are many variations of enemy bots you need to face, which is also strategic in nature when determining what will work best to take them out. So even the combat has a puzzle element to it. The game itself is not hard, but the puzzles may test you more than some of the best AAA titles out there. And when you do solve some of the hardest one, you end up feeling like a genius, which is always rewarding in its own way.
My one hiccup with puzzles in games, especially hard ones, are when they are so hard or illogical that one feels the need to Google the answers. I am pleased to say, that with TGATR I never had to do that once. With a certain perseverance, I could solve even the hardest of them with careful study of the environment. That in itself gives this game some praise in what is a rather fun, family game to play.
In the end, I enjoyed a game that was nothing like what I am used to playing (Evil Within 2, F1 2017, Resident Evil 7 are just some of my more recent games). It found a home in my family’s hearts, including mine, and weaves a beautiful fairy tale that we are so much in need of in this generation. It reminded me of the beautiful essence of life, even in the bond between a girl and her robot, through the minimalistic nature it presents.
I’m looking forward to future games from Flying Carpets and hope to see more family games like this for us to enjoy. Bring us more fairy tales, the quiet elements that bind love and commitment together. More for what this game represents, and the way it presents it in such an enjoyable way, rather than the actual gameplay and low-end graphics, I am going to give this game a safe…..