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Akimbot Preview – Press ‘C’ To Cut A Rug

Retro action-adventure 3D platforming just like Mama used to make

Games have formulas. Just like a recipe, there is a range of ingredients and an expected outcome when you put them together – mad alchemy giving way to a concoction that aims to brighten your day. I know I commit my own mad alchemy everyday when slapping together a scrappy homemade caramelatte – because I am soft, and need the sugary energy.

Looking at all of the marketing materials for Akimbot, I felt like I was looking through it – seeing its recipe brazenly. A dash of visual stylisation, a generous pinch of cinematic presentation, and a massive pour of PS2-era third-person action game energy. Not a bad thing, those are ingredients that excite me greatly – but it’s a space dominated by some lofty colleagues, often with massive AAA budgets backing them. Christ, the initial gameplay trailer for Akimbot had me reminiscing about Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – a dangerous titan to measure yourself up against.

But, hands on, those crazy folk over at Evil Raptor have shouldered their way alongside the big dogs. The gameplay preview is not a long one, encompassing the introduction to the game as a means to savour the robot-populated flavour, introducing us to the capable and not-chatty Exe and the not very capable and far chattier Shipset. They fit the profile for the familiar trope of Hero and Grating Comedic Sidekick, by way of Exe doing most of the grunt work and Shipset offering quips and the odd cutscene-born assist – with a promise that their tale will likely spotlight an emerging friendship and a gradual dip in the mutual dissatisfaction with each others’ presence.

Gameplay wise Akimbot has you running and gunning as Exe with a crispy double jump and a tasty dash. This range of movement immediately made getting around a joy, prompting me to seek verticality in the tropical landscape and laugh in the face of gravity as I jetted across gaps and into cover. Prior to getting any guns, it was brought to my attention that a digital sword is always at the ready for a handy smack down on enemies and containers alike. This sword becomes a magnificent twirling attack when you are in midair, so you can really lean into the flourish when dive bombing goons or goodies – BUT it also adds more airtime to your jumps. This tickled a corner of my brain in such a fiendish way, because the world went from a normal amount of fun to navigate to outright electrifying. Moments later, I finessed my way into discovering a secret and I was downright hooked. This is the good stuff.

Accompanying this slick ‘n’ snappy movement style is gunplay that ticks every box it needs to. Weapon control (at least for the ones available to me) is tight as a drum, meaning your effectiveness at blasting baddies is entirely up to your abilities to aim and pull the trigger. An initial visit to a charming (but somewhat slimy) vendor team saw me get my first ranged weapon, with the game making a fairly big deal out of explaining how this device of death need only be pulled out when needed, with enemy takedowns replenishing ammo. I am unsure if the full game would railroad you into picking a specific gun for the sake of introducing you to ranged play, but right off the bat I could pick between four distinct options, ranging from a set of akimbo pistols, a laser cannon and even slime-thrower and shotgun analogues. Initially I grabbed the pistols, if only to lean into the title’s namesake – and quickly found that they absolutely nail robot mafia dorks. If I was particularly inarticulate with my aim, I could resort to my digi-sword to mop up any outliers and replenish my ammo. Moments later, a brief cutscene with Shipset offered me a pretty standard assault rifle which immediately tasked me with taking care of long range enemies and shooting down platforms to traverse across the deadly tropical water of this space-Caribbean locale.

This prompted a bit of chin scratching, if only because this secondary weapon also seemed to slam a considerable amount – only it had no reserve ammo, nor any form of magazine. You hold that trigger down and you will not hear a click. And it was no slouch in killing power either, I could openly keep my storm of lead firing and enemies would fall like so much chaff. Now given the early nature of this gameplay experience, it could well be that this gun is relegated to being more of a tool than a killing implement – its first outing was assigned to dropping a water crossing, after all – so perhaps the stopping power will be lacking in later gameplay sections. Its absence within the vendor’s upgrade path (at least at the time I could view it) may well be a clue to the intended purpose of it, but it was worth noting. The other weapons (particularly the Lazergun) were all far more fun to use, so I trust that the team knows what they are doing.

Speaking of tools, the other big hitter in Exe’s skillset is the ability to hack – something quite rote by futuristic game standards – but the response on Shipsets part when discovering such a talent makes it feel that it’s a pretty big deal in the universe of Akimbot. Similarly, the implementation of hacking within games is often a case of taking a deep breath and accepting that you will be doing the same minigame forever, but to Akimbot’s credit the team has clearly understood that people don’t want these experiences to be grating, instead opting for a range of brief randomised mechanical inputs that are familiar and fun. The hacking opportunities within the preview all take mere seconds, and have you playing pared back versions of well known microgames like Snake or Osu! to progress. These interactions also seem to be randomised, so when repeating the same beat within a replay you’ll still be on your toes. It’s an awesome implementation of a system that has long grown stale. The fact you can have one of these mini interludes in the middle of a boss battle is just gravy.

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This final point that I need to touch on is the presentation – because it is just exceptional. In my early words, I made mention that the game seems to be rubbing shoulders with some other titanic examples of the formula – and in the indie space, there is a hearty amount of understanding and patience afforded to smaller teams taking a stab at a big budget idea. A measuring stick that is slightly shortened in the face of a company that lacks coffers bursting at the seams with billions of dollars. But what is on display within Akimbot is spectacularly on brand for the recipe they are cooking with – slick stylised visuals, cinematic framing and execution that could teach many other companies a thing or two – there is a dexterity on display here that excites me. The game doesn’t present like an indie game in motion, it’s nailing a much harder brief. The game has a dedicated dance button, for bot’s sake.

If this fleeting slice of Akimbot is any indication of what is to come, I am desperately on board. When so many titles are trying to reinvent wheels or upset the formula by adding downright odd choices to it, it’s refreshing and fantastic to see something nail the basics and wrap them up in a stunning package. Make sure to keep a ready robot eye on the Steam page for this beauty, because the Steam Next Fest promises a chance for you to try it for yourself – and it may just earn a wishlist from you.

Akimbot, first you had my curiosity. Now you have my attention.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games


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