Everybody loved robot wars to some degree, or at least they should have. For this reason, when I was told I’d be reviewing what is basically a side scrolling robot wars, I got a little more excited than was probably sensible. Rigonauts is, should you not already know, a side scrolling ‘wind up and watch’ title in which you build your ship from the ground up, arming it to the teeth with canons and shields before sending it into an automated battle with the enemy. With just enough strategy injected in, and a lot of suspense, Rigonauts really seemed like a title that I’d especially enjoy and as a result I was particularly excited to let my creative juices flow and procreate some awe-inspiring creations.
As I’ve already mentioned, Rigonauts is a game in which you build your vessel and customise it in order to overcome your enemies. Always at a disadvantage as far as fire power and materials go, you’re expected to tailor make your vessel with just the right armour and guns to take full advantages of the weakness and strengths of your enemies vessel. Each battle taking a fair amount of planning, strategizing and a lot of trial and error, Rigonauts is a title that really stresses ‘Brain over Brawn’ and lets you utilise physics to a satisfying degree.
Having built your ship and armed it with everything you need, the only thing left to do is send it into battle and sit back, biting your nails, as you impatiently wait for the end result. Regardless of whether you’re unfortunate to witness your ship get torn apart by your opponents cannons, or if you’re lucky enough to spectate your own vessel’s victory, the actual battles are filled with suspense and force you to shift to the end of your chair, eagerly awaiting the end result. Although watching your own hard work get torn apart in front of your eyes might not be quite as fun as seeing it the other way around, even lost battles carry with them their own prize. Capturing a glimpse of how the enemy goes about ripping your hard work to shreds, really shows exactly where your weaknesses lie, be in in attack or in defence, at which point it’s back to the drawing board for a few much needed adjustments and back on the field for round 2.
With any number of approaches and tactics possible to utilise in order to best your enemy, strategically building your own ship whilst taking in to account both attack and defence, as well as the general ergonomics, is with out a doubt the bulk of the game and is the root of all the enjoyment the title offers. With all of Rigonauts eggs in one basket, as Sods law would predict, it’s no surprise that the title trips over and falls flat on it’s face, crushing the entirety of the games enjoyable content. From the start, the game encourages planning and strategic positioning in order to win, however this soon losses it relevance as the game offers you more and more parts to conscripted to your ship, and instead of tailor building the enemies worst nightmare, I instead found myself recreating the same old impenetrable fortress for every scenario, often not so much as stealing a glance at the enemy before hand. The most effective and efficient road to victory now requiring nothing more than brute force and almost no attention paid to the opposition, the game loses the bulk of it’s most redeeming feature, leaving a rift of repetitive play and boring skirmishes, void of any excitement in it’s place.
Although winning any battle soon becomes tedious and boring, the game does award you for using fewer guns and materials and should you aim for these victories, the game actually feels a little more challenging and the whole experience comes across a fair few notches more enjoyable than what I was used to at this point. Even with some incentive to attempt the more strategic stages, it’s hardly a necessity in overcoming the game and although you do need a certain level of points to progress, they’re still easy enough to come by with a simple fortress style build leaving any more strategic builds in the blue prints. Aiming for maximum points by using the fewest materials is defiantly something more enjoyable than utilising the bulk of your materials and it comes across feeling a fair degree more relatable to the games strategic brag. This of course leads me to question why Engient didn’t instead appoint the challenges the minimum requirement for passing the stage, and I can only imagine their reasoning orbits around pandering to an audience shy of a challenge.
Despite the lone glaring contention that I’ve moaned about for long enough, the game is honestly quite enjoyable so long as you approach it in small sessions, never expecting to milk more than half an hour of enjoyable game play at a time. Should you be able to succeed where I failed and muster up the motivation to fabricate the incentive to create a less than interesting vessel for every stage, I get the impression you’ll mange to make full of the game and enjoy its quirky story line as it intended. As a PC game, Rigonauts comes across as feeling lost, falling short of what I expect a PC title to offer. Taking this into account, I can’t help but shake the impression that the gripes I held in regards to repetitiveness would certainly be quenched by the portability of the mobile titles, leading me to assume (although I have yet to play the mobile title) that Rigonauts suits the out and about platforms much more than a grounded PC.