Autonauts vs Piratebots – Review
Follow Genre: Automation, Building
Developer: Denki
Publisher: Curve Digital
Platform: PC
Tested On: PC

Autonauts vs Piratebots – Review

Site Score
Good: Cutesy and easy to picku
Bad: Not enough difference for owners of the original, weak combat
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Back in 2019, Autonauts was released. Featuring automation-based gameplay, it became a niche success among fans of the genre. Allowing for the implementation of simple scripts, it added a layer of complexity for those interested in programming. Later on, Autonauts vs Piratebots (AvP from now on) was announced as a future DLC for the original Autonauts, although it was ultimately released as a standalone game. Here is what it has to offer.


Featuring a barebones story that serves as little more than a setup for the world, AvP sees the player in a new Autonaut settlement, where they’ll have to begin from scratch. However, this time things won’t be as peaceful, since the evil Piratebots will continuously plunder said settlement, taking away bots and resources.


With cutesy low-poly 3D graphics, AvP presents a bubbly and colorful image without much regard for high graphical fidelity. Although its childlike presentation is welcoming, it unluckily becomes a tad bland to look at for long periods of time. That said, the simple graphics aid the gameplay once things get more complex and the settlement further expands, since buildings are usually rather easy to tell apart at a glance.


The game’s sound design is serviceable but nothing to write home about, with an enjoyable soundtrack and alright sound effects. Other than that, there isn’t much worth mentioning or that particularly stands out, with the sound department being ultimately there to improve the experience without getting in the way.


As previously stated, AvP is an automation game where players must optimize a production line, in this case with the added objective of fending off the attacking Piratebots. Players will start slowly gathering resources to build structures and bots, before automating the process by instructing said bots so they may do the harvesting themselves.

This programming is mostly done by having the robots copy the player’s actions, although block programming is also available. While this requires some knowledge of code, block programming is simple enough that almost any player will be able to pick it up. Additionally, this is aided by a rather in-depth tutorial that explains all of the basics.

That said, once the game gets going and allows players to start automating their bots, issues start appearing. As good as a program might seem at first, it’ll inevitably run into an issue with the production chain, requiring further optimization and problem-solving. While this should be the main focus of the game, it is undone rather early with the introduction of better machines which will see the player with full warehouses before ever confronting the enemy.

The main problem with this is that it subtracts from the difficulty while still requiring time, since resource gathering is a relatively tedious process even when automated. Although other games in the genre also run into these issues, they are often palliated by secondary mechanics or more important milestones to accomplish. This is very much not the case in AvP, where the objective is reduced to growing large enough to destroy all of the Piratebot settlements.

Said destruction is where the combat side of the gameplay takes place, pitting the player’s troops against enemies. These battles are fought with a simple RTS system where players may group their troops under squads with different objectives based on their programming, letting them run amok after that.

Whenever the Piratebots themselves attack the player’s settlement, they’ll focus on the production structures, allowing the player to set their defenses accordingly. Throughout the game this continues to grow in scale, feeding into a repetitive loop of producing faster, upgrading defenses, and producing more troops. While at certain points new biomes are unlocked, the core gameplay loop doesn’t change much and the simplicity of the combat subtracts from what could’ve been an enjoyable mechanic.

Although the game definitely triggers the same response as other automation games, wanting better and more efficient production lines, the Piratebot spin doesn’t make it stand out much from its predecessor. Owners of the previous game won’t really have a reason to purchase this unless they really enjoyed the first and want to support the developers.


Autonauts vs Piratebots is a simple and relatively enjoyable automation game with some pacing issues at the start and middle points. Those looking to get into the genre might find it an accessible title, while those with an interest in programming will also be able to get their sea legs (pun intended). Sold for €/$19.99/£15.99, it is perhaps recommendable to wait for a sale, although it should be pointed out that the original game gets much steeper discounts.

Personal Opinion

“I honestly didn’t quite love the original game and I still have the same problems with this “sequel” if it can be called such. The early game is slow even by automation game standards and the controls are not as smooth as they could be. Mind you, this is the opinion of someone who’s played a LOT of games in this genre, so definitely not something a beginner might mind. I find it somewhat disappointing that this ended up coming out as a standalone game instead of a DLC. When I first saw it announced as an expansion for the first I thought it might make the game worth revisiting, but as a standalone, it doesn’t distinguish itself enough. It definitely adds some QoL improvements and a bit of complexity with the Piratebot raids, but honestly, if you own the original maybe think twice before getting this one. If you don’t own the original, however, this is probably the game to go with out of the two.”

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No longer writing for the site, pursuing other things.

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