Ever thought what it’s like to be a murderous household appliance? Yeah, me too. If I could choose though, what would I be? The toaster has some devastating abilities but a little limited in range. How about the Sam Fisher of appliances and the stealth-like microwave? Death by invisible rays. Again, stationary. That’s where the robotic vacuum comes into play in Roombo: First Blood.
When I say murderous, I mean in the self-defence capacity. Like the classic Stallone flick before it, they drew first blood. But what does that mean? Why are we associating household appliances with violence, and who are they? It’s all because of those uninvited guests; burglars. You were thinking vampires though, right? That would have been cool.
The family in Roombo: First Blood leave the house for the evening, doing what families do and rather than put the dog in command, Roombo, their faithful robotic vacuum is in charge, being charged. It’s a bit like Toy Story though, as the family don’t know that he’s alive and actively protecting their castle. Anyway, Roombo is on charge, waiting for the dust to fall. However, rather than his dirt sensors going off, he picks up that burglars have broken into the home and attempting to steal the family jewels!
Roombo: First Blood plays out a little like Serial Cleaner; you clean up a lot of blood and dispose of bodies, ideally without getting caught. Yes, you read that correctly. Roombo is not your typical cleaner but a full-on tactical defence sentry. As the burglars creep around the house, Roombo stealthily follows them, vacuuming up the footprints they leave behind. That’s his job, after all. However, you will soon get alerted to the fact that the burglar has now swiped something of importance, and you must apply the countermeasures – destroy them using other household appliances and also ramming them.
Yes, it’s quite drastic, but Roombo can hack into other electrical goods and set up traps like an electronic Kevin McAllister. G-o-o-g-l-e. For example, he can hack into an overhead ceiling fan, forcing it to fall on the thief. It doesn’t kill them outright, but it will take off some energy. Rinse and repeat until their health is gone then clear up the evidence. My favourite is perhaps getting the windows to fly at them. It’s like Master of the Flying Guillotine, only with window frames as the tool.
When you have killed the thief, you then need to vacuum up the body, get rid of the blood and any other mess all to the tune of a countdown timer of 60 seconds. When the time runs out, you are ranked on your performance – mostly cleanliness. Ideally, you want to be cleaning up as you go along and hiding under tables or beds to remain undetected.
Roombo has a health meter, and if you are in the line of sight of the baddies, they’ll attempt to destroy you. There are only so many hits he can take until destroyed, so it’s best to stay out of the way. However, stay out of sight long enough, and they’ll go back to stealing. Not in a bad AI sense, but it makes the game more practical. But forgetting any form of stealth tactics, the strategy lies in setting up traps. Position yourself under a table or under a window sill, and you can honk your on-board horn to grab their attention. As the thief approaches, you switch to hack mode (the X button), and everything goes to slow motion, allowing you time to activate your deviant plan of death.
Roombo: First Blood is a great concept and a fun game to play, but it is somewhat flawed. The most significant factor is that there are only six levels, and each location is set in the same house, with the same layout. They differ in challenge; progress further down the line and more thieves are present, so you need to plan your attack on a few levels: avoiding contact, setting up traps and ensuring you clean up as you go. Roombo by default is slow, but he does have a boost button to move faster, and as you chain together combos, he’ll become fully charged allowing you to ram one of the baddies by drawing a trajectory path with the Y button. By the time you get to this stage, it’s usually the finishing move.
Coming back to the flaws again, sorry, Roombo is a very accurate robotic cleaner. Like his real-life counterparts, he often crashes into household objects, and it’s a pain to reverse, move forward and then repeat as you can’t change the camera angles or zoom in. The objects just appear a little more opaque. In practice, it isn’t a big deal as you move around with relative ease. Still, when you are seen by one of the burglars, represented by a cone of vision similar to the Metal Gear series or Hitman, you end up retracing your steps and get to a safe point, often crashing as you go along. One saving grace here is that you can hack the doors too. Bring up the hacking menu, and you can close the door on the thief. Because they’re so stupid, they turn around and find another way to get to you – allowing you time to set up your next trap or to hide.
Other than the six levels and increasing difficulty, there’s not much else to Roombo: First Blood. There’s an additional gallery, but that’s a small bonus and not really a selling point. It’s not particularly difficult to perform the traps and navigate around the house. The real challenge is arguably getting a good rating as you only have a short space of time to clear everything. From my perspective, the strategy is more with cleanliness than homicide. A few varieties in the level design – perhaps even having different vacuums in different locations would have given this a bit more punch. Maybe even a multiplayer? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Roombo: First Blood is a great concept and for the price, definitely worth a look.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Roombo: First Blood Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 6/10
A sadistic Wall-E like vacuum cleaner that doesn’t suck. Not because it’s faulty, but it’s the kind of device you can rely on. It’s just a shame that it’s so short.
- Great concept – who’d have thought: a vacuum cleaner
- Although only one level, the design is great
- You have to put a plan into action when it comes to cleaning up the mess
- Only six levels in the same location
- The collisions can be a little too frequent and sluggish to correct
- Other than the main game, the only other extra feature is a gallery