Developer: North Side
Publisher: North Side
Tested on: PC with headset
Bot Colony – Review
It should come to no one’s surprise that robots will play a big role in the future, they already play a big part in automation today. But as humanity pushes forward robots need to become more sophisticated and more autonomous. That’s where A.I. Comes into the picture. Artificial intelligence will allow those robots to think for themselves and adapt to any situation as a human would. Any fan of Ex Machina kind of movies would give anything to talk to an intelligent robot and put it through the Turing test to determine if it’s truly self aware and thinking for itself. Since those kind of robots are rather expensive and rare, Bot Colony gives us a chance to start chatting with robots in game.
In the not so distant future, 2021, Nakagawa Corp is the biggest robot company in Japan. They’re so big they even purchased a private island called Agrihan and relocated their entire Research and Development division to the island. Not soon after, an entire city rises up on the north side of the island including skyscrapers for housing and giant manufacturing plants. The south side of the island was already inhabited by local traditional Japanese fishermen. In the center of the island there is a volcano but it doesn’t cause an immediate threat.
On of the fields Nakagawa Corp is hoping to expand in is space travel and more specifically the colonization of Mars. To be successful in space, the robots need to be self sufficient and work with a high degree of autonomy. Therefore humans and robots work and live closely together in the city, which is basically a test facility for the upcoming mission to Mars.
There is also a second reason to move everything to an island and that is espionage. Nakagawa Corp is not the only robot company in the world, their closest competitor in the region is the North Korean KHT Corp. Nakagawa Corp hires you when they suspect KHT Corp has infiltrated the island and three new-generation sensors went missing and since you’re a specialist in robot cognition you are the right person for the job. You’ll start the investigation in the heart of Agrihan, a place almost exclusively inhabited by robots called Bot Colony (who would have guessed). The story will drag you around the island to different areas pushing the story forward at a steady pace. Plenty of transportation options are available to you. Eventually you’ll learn that more than just profit is at stake.
The game looks great, pretty much up to the standards one would expect from current games. It has a nice futuristic vibe to it. Us Humans always try create robots in our own image therefore they are humanoid in shape and the Will Smith movie I, Robot comes to mind, with a bit of Tron on top for the futuristic vibe. Locations range from indoors to outdoors, day to night, giving us plenty of chance to enjoy the scenery. It’s clearly set in the future but nothing extraordinary, just more computers, robots and led lights.
As far as soundtrack goes it supports the game just fine. It has that same slightly futuristic vibe just as the graphics. If you can play the game with a microphone you’ll be making the dialog yourself. Which does greatly adds to the immersion. They have put a lot of effort into the chatting with the robots and it pays off. In a way you’ll start to wonder if you’re the actual robot that’s being tested.
Bot Colony is a detective/adventure game with a rather unique feature and a very risky one at that. When was the last time you tried to commutate with any device, being it your smart phone/windows/mac anything that accepts voice commands as input? Chances are you don’t use it very often. Why? Cause it’s frustrating as hell when it doesn’t understand you, if you identify yourself as someone with a strong dialect you might not even want to try the voice feature. Luckily we can always fall back onto our trusty keyboard, and our perfect spelling and grammar
Whichever input you decide to use it will make up the lion portion of the game. Controlling your character, interaction with objects and solving puzzles all take the back burner to talking to robots. But how exactly does one talk to a robot? Questions should be kept short and to the point. Questioning a robot about his surroundings and the events that occurred there can trigger his memory and you’ll get some video feeds from his memory. This will be key to solving the mysteries of the island. The same goes for issuing commands to the robot, being as specific as possible will save you a lot of frustration in the long run. Finally you can try to learn the robot new tricks, for instance you can teach him your name.
The North Korean spy has hacked a household robot so he could search the house undetected when the owners had left the house. Starting your investigation you’ll need to talk to the robot to find out who lives in that house and why they weren’t at home that night. Secondly you’ll need to figure out what the spy was looking for by discovering what objects were moved or knocked over. Once you figure that out you’ll need to direct the robot to place the items back in the correct position. This might sound like an easy task at hand but you’ll soon discover that small nuances in the questions or commands you issue to the robot will you get a different result. At least you’ll mostly still get a laugh out of it all.
Objectively speaking this is becoming a good game since it’s in early access it’s impossible to speak for the final version. It dares to put a lot of eggs in the user’s input basket which pays off as talking to robots is fun. However it has a learning curve and requires good spoken or written English depending on your chosen input option. As a side note, robots don’t find potty humor funny.