Abi: A Robot’s Tale

I have always been a big fan of adventure games. There is something about immersing yourself in the (hi-)story of a new game world with its inhabitants, their relationships with each other and the general setting, that a casual game, a racing title or a shooter cannot offer you.

And although the days of Monkey Island and the old Sierra Games have passed, adventure titles are not a relic of the past by any means and have actually made their way onto the mobile platform.

Abi: A Robot’s Tale is one of these mobile adventure games and I am so happy I came across it! In this game, you will join two robots on their quest to find their friend who seems to have gotten lost in a post-apocalyptic world that has a kind of melancholic feel to it as you start talking to other robots and hear fragments of their stories. But let’s get to that a little later.

If what you think of when you hear the word post-apocalyptic is huge amounts of sand, old metal scraps and empty horizons, then you are thinking right. The game is set in a world that looks mostly abandoned, although there are robots all over the place. But don’t expect to find any humans. You do see cars and restaurants and old factory buildings, but it seems they are all out of service. Some robots that you walk into mourn the departure of the humans to a certain place they call Metropolis, while others express stronger feelings of betrayal and being left alone. A restaurant called “Zack’s Kitchen” is being run by a couple of robots who tell you they are keeping it running for when Zack returns from the Metropolis, because it used to be his everything.

The interactions with other robots give the player an idea of what may have happened before the two protagonists departed on their journey, and while you cannot help but feel the melancholic and somehow desolate atmosphere that many of the robots seem to be caught up in, the main narrative and comments by the main character Abi (his companion DD is a big industrial robot and not one for many words) retain a positive vibe. This mix of funny, melancholic, tragic and positive elements, in combination with the soft and calming music and the beautiful and colorful artwork really creates a unique atmosphere that I immensely enjoyed.

Abi’s game play is rather straightforward. The mobile equivalent of a point-and-click basically means you tap somewhere on the screen and Abi and DD go there. You tap on an object or an NPC and you interact. What I liked a lot was the fact that you control both of the characters and switch between them depending on the task at hand. Abi, the little yellow guy, was originally designed to be an educational robot for kids whose parents don’t have enough time for them. He is the one to jump or climb onto higher places, talk to NPCs or press buttons, while DD who was designed for heavy duty task is the one to carry things, open blocked doors and so on. The two of them working together have the brains and the muscles to achieve any task.

The tasks themselves are different kinds of puzzles that in my opinion keep a good balance between being too hard to figure out and being too obvious. If you do get stuck, the game features a hint system that pushes you in the right direction rather than explicitly telling you what to do.

In the second half of the game, there are a few action oriented parts where the player actually has to react in time in order to pass the level. While this does come as a bit of a surprise after the game had started off in a classic point-and-click adventure style without time pressure, it does work, and luckily does not harm the overall feel.  Instead, it actually adds some fresh elements to the game.

All in all, Abi: A Robot’s Tale is a game we can strongly recommend. The story is built up in a subtle but intriguing way that makes a player start to wonder what that mysterious place called Metropolis is all about, how Abi’s world came to be what it is now and what the real reason behind the humans’ disappearance is. And as the game ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, there is good reason to expect a sequel to make its way onto the app stores at some point.

Abi is available for iOS and Android and will be on sale for only 0.99 USD during February, which is more than fair. If you have a buck to spare, Abi is certainly a good option to spend it on.