Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is a puzzle platformer available on PC and out today on Nintendo Switch.
You take control of Robbie Swifthand who wakes up in a temple and he’s encouraged by a spirit to collect the fragments to make the Orb of Mysteries to save the world. Robbie’s more interested in the cash money that’s on offer from the Spirit as a prize. Robbie’s a kind of anti-hero… you know he’s only in it for the money, but you’re kind of rooting for him anyway.
In terms of gameplay Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is a puzzle platformer full of traps, obstacles, and challenges. It’s your job to first pick up a shining ball of light and to get out of the levels. Throughout the levels you have to jump, dodge swinging axes and carefully placed traps to throw the orb into the light and that opens up your goal to get to at the end of the level. The game has two different endings depending on how you perform throughout the game and the levels are packed full of secrets for players to discover. There are other characters inside the temple who you meet along the way and interacting the with gameworld and other characters affect your path through the game with intelligent AI.
There’s a real personality to Robbie that shines through. Robbie isn’t just a sprite than replays the same animation when he dies, the AI develops and grows throughout the gameplay and you feel an emotional connection to Robbie. He’s not just a graphic who replays the same animation when he dies, he feels ‘alive’.
I spoke to Nikos and Angelos from Pixel Reign. Talking about gameplay Nikos said “We wanted to focus on the player, interacting with the game world during gameplay… the way we achieve that is that we wanted to add a lot of character, besides the cutscenes. You’ll notice Robbie looks around while running, he gets scared, a lot of the things that are going on are run by AI going on in the background. This makes Robbie feel alive. Each player has a different kind of relationship with Robbie.”
The original Robbie Swifthand was made back in 2008 and was made in Game Maker. Nikos created the first iteration of Robbie Swifthand (it’s still available online). Nikos wanted to recreate Robbie to test his skills as a game developer and fully realise the original vision for Robbie Swifthand. Since then the team at Pixel Reign has grown with Nikos, Vicky, Angelos, and other team members too.
Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is a challenge. There are 3 different levels – hard, not-so-hard and insanity. Traps will pop up when you least expect it and bricks will fall from the ceiling. There’s no shortage of surprises in the game. As well as the plethora of traps and things wanting to kill Robbie in the temple, there’s also the boss battles inspired by Nikos’ experience with Darksouls.
There’s certainly no shortage of traps, weapons and surprises ready to kill Robbie Swifthand and stop him from collecting the treasure. The methods of dying too are very varied, filled with humour – albeit a little gruesome sometimes. There were more than a few times I shouted out loud when random spikes flew up from the ground and killed Robbie, right when I was close to the end of the level. It gave me the same feel as playing a super hard Kaizo Mario level, there’s a hidden surprise.
Nikos went onto say “We wanted to give the player a sense of achievement. We look back to the 16-bit games of the ’90s and we wanted to give the player bragging rights. It’s not something you get nowadays, we wanted to give the player a chance to accomplish and achieve something.”
In summary, Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is great fun. The bitesize levels are great to pick up and play for a short time, or you can get lost in the game and play for hours at a time. It’s also perfect for Nintendo Switch, something which Pixel Reign are very proud of. It’s a fun, challenging platformer full of humour and wow moments, definitely, one to try out.
Developer: Pixel Reign
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Release date: 1st August 2019 (Switch), 20th September 2018 (PC)