The premise behind Microbot is quite an intriguing one. Set sometime in the future, humankind has developed microscopic nanomachines that can be injected into the human body to target and eliminate diseases at the cellular level. However, like all bad sci-fic plots, something has gone dangerously awry. The nanomachines aren't doing the good things that they were supposed to; instead we find that they have bonded to the diseased cells and are now multiplying inside the body at an alarmingly fast rate. Piloting the new prototype 'Microbot', players will find themselves being inserted into an anonymous human host in effort to seek out and destroy the infection before it consumes the human host.
In the land of twin-stick arcade shooters, the novelty factor of Microbot is definitely there, but after spending a few hours with the title you'll find that its as sterile as a hospital operating theatre. Upon first glance, you'll definitely be taken in by the slick presentation of Microbot. From the game's opening scene which depicts the player being thrust from the sterile laboratory and injected into the host body's artery via a hypodermic needle, you'll find yourself quite taken with the title and its effort to differentiate itself from its arcade stablemates by making it feel less like an artificial setting and more like organic life.
The feel of the game reflects the setting well, as you navigate your Microbot through the dynamic fluid currents teeming with blood cells, platelets and other interesting bits and pieces as you float your way through the gooey fluids of the human body. The real shame of the title is that the light, floaty feeling is exactly what Microbot doesn't need. Microbot is a very slow game, and the floaty movements and short-ranged weaponry whittle the game down to being a rather frustrating experience which renders the combat mechanics to be so defective that you'll question why you are spending any time with this title at all. When you dig beneath the surface of the game and start delving deeper into its depths, you'll soon find that the weaponry that you have equipped and the enemies that you're facing are drawn from the familiar well of twin-stick arcade stock, quickly making it clear that Microbot's organic merits are merely a front for a derivative, robot-like experience.
In each level, you'll navigate your Microbot through corridors and open spaces, blasting anything that has a robotic look to it. Some of these robotic nasties are content to sit back and fire at you from afar, others will charge like a bull at a matador and make a beeline directly for your ship. Things get dicey when a multitude of enemy types appear in large numbers, and it is in these moments that MicroBot approaches its worth as an engagingly frenetic shooter challenge. Though you'll find these sections will quash your frustration and reinvigorate your interest, the energy quickly dissipates as the game harshly returns you to slow, exploratory pace that it seems content on torturing you with. Some will find that exploring the many nooks and crannies of each level to be a fun distraction, ultimately this title is aimed at fast-paced action and for this action to wither so quickly and so often is a damn shame.
The most baffling aspect of the title that that it lacks a persistent scoring mechanic, instead opting to judge you on how well you can acquire 'atoms', which can then be used to upgrade your Microbot throughout the many upgrade stations peppered throughout the game's levels. Though in order to access upgrades, you will be required to maneuver your way through the levels, targeting specific enemies in order to acquire data. Once you have collected that necessary amount of data, you'll have access to assemble new abilities, giving you the opportunity to mix and match your weaponry to attempt a perfect balance of powerful and quick to recharge. These specific enemies are peppered throughout the levels in their droves making it an easy endeavour to unlock the different upgrade modules. The downside of this is that by being able to obtain the high-powered weaponry so easily, you quickly render combat useless as have no further incentive to engage in combat at all. Which then leads to another sticking point, you've just spent a lot of time going around to collect data for upgrades, but many of then just weren't worth the time it took in collecting them. Though we found taking different load outs of your Microbot out for a spin is a fun experience, it becomes apparent that the game doesn't really force you to use any particular weaponry in any particular section - making it likely that you will stick with one weapon loadout for much of the game's entirety.
The atmospheric presentation of Microbot is top-notch for a downloadable title. But for a game that promises to be an action shooter, the severe lack of action throughout a significant portion of the title makes this one game that should be left to flat line on the operating table.