Robot City

10A slow adventure inspired by Asimov.

Another oddball adventure game from the mid 1990s. Hidden at the edge of known Spacer territory, Robot City is the brainchild of one Dr. Avery, a brilliant — but possibly mad — robotics expert with a dream of creating an entirely new society of self-sufficient artificial beings. His creations are all equipped with positronic brains and live in accordance with Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics — laws that stress the sanctity of human life over the robots’ own well-being.

You arrive alone in Robot City as an amnesiac in a survival pod, one of only three humans on the planet, and already a suspect in the murder of one of the others — Avery’s scientific rival, the also-possibly-mad Dr. Poole. Since the Three Laws prevent robots from harming human beings, it’s only logical for your mechanical hosts to assume you’re guilty, so they confine you to the victim’s apartment while an investigation is conducted.

Once outside, you explore the environment in typical Myst style. The soundtrack throbs with vaguely disturbing music and effects, the sky is an unsettling shade of yellow-green, and when it rains, it literally pours. Oddly enough, despite your presumed guilt, the robots you encounter on the streets — even the Hunters assigned to recapture you — are courteous and respectful, always calling you “Friend Derec”. These robots have their own agendas, but they’re open to all avenues of logical conversation. There’s a staggering amount of information you can access through various computer data banks and surprisingly natural dialogue with the cyborg citizens.

As you explore the environment, you discover the city itself is out of control and experiencing an unpredictable and dangerous protracted growth phase, its architecture expanding and rearranging itself as a result of the upheaval caused by a human death. Streets appear and disappear at will, making exploration a fascinating — if sometimes frustrating — affair. Now, not only must you prove your innocence by finding the real culprit, you end up having to save the whole city as well.

In the end, there’s little here as far as character interaction or puzzle design to really distinguish the game from the fold of other so-so adventure titles from the same period. To make things aggravating, it has some of the same flaws as well, such as not being able to skip already seen animations or already heard conversations. It’s definitely novel and even occasionally intriguing as far as the storyline goes, but the gameplay itself seems straight off a production line.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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