Demiurge Studios has been around for quite some time, working closely with companies that we adore from a co-op standpoint, such as Gearbox for Borderlands. Recently the studio took a break from working for others and has decided it’s time to make their game - Shoot Many Robots. Their message here is simple: Robots are bad, we should shoot them. In order to deliver that initial message, we get a plethora of tools to help us out aside from plain old guns. It’s Borderlands meets Metal Slug on a drinking binge as Demiurge describes it - and that’s scarily accurate.
When being introduced to the game, Nick and I met the dashing hero Pickles Walter Tugnut in his many costumes. The costumes your character dons changes his abilities in the game, for instance, leather pants allow him to slide because leather pants make you smooth. Or, a kilt allows him to run faster since he’s “running free,” things like that. Each of over 200 items change the abilities of Tugnut, and customizes the way you look to differentiate up to four P. Walter Tugnuts.
As the story goes, the robots were created at one time to save humanity and they went dormant over time. After plenty of rust and decay has set in, the robot apocalypse is triggered when the robots wake up 20 years later and it’s up to Tugnut to shoot as many robots as he can on his way to the robot factory to shut them down. The developer likened Tugnut to a mix between Tallahassee from Zombieland and the Heavy from Team Fortress 2. As such, this gives him great abilities in the game like the ability to punch bullets back at the enemies. While the world may be falling apart, Pickles doesn’t seem all that disappointed that the world has been overrun by robots.
This form of item-based RPG progression really changes things up from the standard class tree RPG. As you gain levels and progress through the game, you’re able to purchase new items from your RV (that’s your home base) that unlock different abilities, and your stats increase automatically. You purchase items using nuts and bolts that are dropped by defeated enemies - so it’s important to make sure you grab every nut or bolt that’s dropped, as the disappear over time. Leave no nut behind we say.
As with the variety of loot expected throughout the game, there were also a variety of robots present that we noticed. A few small fast robots, followed by some suicidal explosive robots and some chainsaw wielding robots that couldn’t be harmed from the front. The amount of creativity and extensive content is already noticeable in this early build.
From the start the game has a bit of a Metal Slug feel to it - a fairly solid platforming feel with plenty of guns and enemies to destroy. Along with your standard story mode, we played a survival mode with infinite waves of robots spawning from places all over the level, and the two players had to survive. As in any good co-op game there is a buddy resurrect system should your health get too low, but building a strategy so you don’t have to use quite so many health packs (aka beers) is also ideal for surviving each wave.
Shoot Many Robots gives you the ability to aim-down your weapons sights by holding a trigger in the game and aiming with the right stick, otherwise your weapon fires from the waist in just about any direction imaginable. This ability gave the game a very comical feel in the way it worked on top of the way Tugnut looked with all of his miscellaneous gear. Obviously, your Tugnut is your own, so you can bring him online to show off to friends in co-op - which we imagine will be a big draw in this game.
In a term coined by the developers, “Co-opetition” is present throughout the game, encouraging players to do their best. You see, the nuts and bolts I mentioned earlier are not only the currency for the game, but they’re also the score for the game. The devs imagine players will be fighting one another to get to these high-scores and money to purchase better loot by playing cooperatively through the game - so, sure we’ve seen this type of co-op before, but we didn’t have a term for it - so co-opetition is born with Shoot Many Robots.
Nick’s Hands-on Impressions:
I knew I was in for something special with Shoot Many Robots when Studio Director Albert Reed donned a plastic army hat to give us our demo. After unlocking everything in the game he lets us have free reign to customize our character - I chose a kilt for speed, a viking helmet for strength, and a beer pack for extra health. My Pickles was a killing armed to the teeth with an assault rifle and a sticky grenade launcher. The robots didn’t stand a chance.
While the game plays a bit like a Contra or Metal Slug title, there is some finesse to be had and strategy to play out. Enemies come in different varieties like your standard fodder, harder to kill enemies that can only be damaged from behind, and of course your bigger bosses. Defeating these in co-op definitely required some strategy, teamwork, and of course plenty of beer.
What’s interesting about the gameplay is that while running and gunning works “ok” - to really get good at killing you’ll need to mix up your skills like the melee bash from the viking helmet or the body slam from the crash helmet along with stopping and “playing the angles” using the shoot down the sight mode. Numerous times my co-op partner and I found ourselves being pinned by rocket shooting robots only to have to quickly revive them to keep going. It was extremely satisfying to just drop in with a body slam to clear the enemies off my partners corpse before resurrecting her.
While Shoot Many Robots seems a ways off, the basis is there for an over the top game that’s grounded in some pretty solid gameplay mechanics. There's no official announced platforms yet, though it seems the team wants it on as many as possible. You’re definitely going to laugh out loud while playing this, you’re definitely going to curse at robots while playing this, and you’ll definitely want to have a co-op buddy (and beers) by your side the whole way.
Remember - leave no nut behind.