I learned of Unept’s Disposabot from perusing the ever enlightening Jay Is Games, and I’m glad I gave it a shot, as this turned out to be a bit more than just a cute-looking puzzle platformer. In fact, it’s a cute-looking puzzle platformer that makes you think, though some levels can be beaten simply by throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, but for the most part, you gotta use your noggin. It’s definitely one of the better Portal wannabes. Wait, let me explain.
Dr. Nemesis, the snarky founder and CEO of the Tyrant corporation, has decided to kidnap you, an ordinary citizen robot, and really put you through the ringer. By that I mean…a number of anti-hero weapons testing rooms, which are filled with numerous and dastardly ways to lower an android’s power level from 100 to zero in a flash. Your job, naturally, is to get through each room safely and in one piece in pursuit of finding a way to stop the often heard, but rarely seen villain, that way you can get back to normal, daily automaton life. Whatever that is. In each of these rooms is a replicator that allows you to respawn in a new, mechanical body after dying, and this is the main mechanic that will get you from one side of the level to the other. Yup, dying is the answer.
When your little robot dude/dudette dies, your body remains in the level. The Last Geek from Ludum Dare 22 did this, but it was only for cosmetic purposes. Some enemies will leave an empty, light-as-a-feather husk of a corpse that you can push around and use as a stepladder, and others will completely freeze your wireframe in place, even in mid-air. The trick is figuring out how and when to use each of these special corpse types to your advantage, to reach the end-of-level pipe entrance, and the first few levels are beyond basic and obvious, there to teach you these skills, but the majority of the levels are quite puzzling, especially the later ones where you need to get keys before exiting or do certain actions in a specific order without fault.
Disposabot is controlled entirely with just the arrow keys. You move left and right with the respective keys, and press up to jump. If you find yourself stuck and want to start over, simply hit the [R] key to clear away all your mistakes. Surprisingly, that’s all the control you need to get the job done, though I always prefer to play platformers with a d-pad or analog stick for better precision and ending up missing a few vital jumps. Each level gives out medals at the end based on how many times you died, the less earning the better prize, which helps add some replayability for those trying to make it through as perfect as possible. I got mostly golds and silvers, though a few of the final levels saw me dying over and over again out of frustration and unplanned attempts to just push my way to the end, winning only bronzes.
However, unlike Portal, the story never reaches that same wondrous high, but you do eventually put Dr. Nemesis in his place, and the last third of the total 21 levels are very rewarding from a gameplay perspective. Again, it’s a cute-looking puzzle platformer that makes you think. Plus, all the clouds are Tetris shapes. Really, you can’t not smile at that.