If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This old adage rings particularly true for Haiku, the Robot; published by MisterMorrisGames, Haiku is a Metroidvania to the utmost degree. When a formula is good, it’s good, and Haiku lives right inside it and subsequently is just plain good.
While the gameplay formula in Haiku doesn’t need fixing, that doesn’t mean that everything is in perfect working order. Set in the dystopian world of Arcadia, we step into the metal boots of Haiku, the robot. Waking up into a world full of hostile and corrupted robots, devoid of the human creators, Haiku must slash, dodge, and roll about in order to discover, and possibly heal, the cause of the corruption that has spread to their mechanical brethren.
Beginning with nothing more than a beat-up sword and the ability to jump, Haiku must explore the network of terrain and tunnels to collect new power-ups and abilities. Collecting these new abilities will then open up previously inaccessible areas.
Haiku, the Robot does a lot more of the Metroid and a little less of the -vania. But again, why mess with a good thing? As you progress, you’ll find Haiku’s powers bear a certain resemblance to one Samus Aran in that Haiku will be able to morph into a tiny ball to access small passages, or be able to cling to walls in order to jump up and down through chutes.
The gameplay is done so well, and feels so smooth, that you’ll barely bat an eyelash at the fact that Haiku borrows a bit from beloved 2D Metroids.
The atmosphere of the game is absolutely stellar. Each area has a distinct feel — and colour palette — with a variety of thematic enemies to slash a sword at. From harmless, hovering hot-air-balloons, to ferociously aggressive ovens and lawnmowers that chase you down, Haiku sits in the exact sweet spot of challenge and fun.
One of the first skills you’ll gain is the ability to heal yourself. Enemies drop their spare parts when defeated, and you can spend those parts to give yourself a bit of a tune-up whenever and wherever you are. Of course, you also need those spare parts to purchase upgrades and useful items, so keeping Haiku out of harm’s way is preferable. It is very handy — when a save point is nowhere in sight — to be able to take healing matters into your own mechanical hands.
Controls are smooth and intuitive, and the ambiguity of the circumstances of the world is intriguing and thought provoking. The few other uncorrupted robots you meet along the way are all quite compelling and entertaining. A distinct feeling of sonder could sum up Haiku: each robot in this game is living a life as complex and profound as Haiku’s. Never are all of the answers revealed, which only adds to the allure.
The music is pleasing, and the sounds can be so deliciously subtle. Whenever a hidden area is revealed, the music changes every so slightly in an almost unconscious way. You’ll feel the change almost before you hear it.
All in all, Haiku, the Robot is a truly delightful experience that doesn’t come around that often. The Metroidvania formula is utilised in the best possible way. Anyone, not just fans of the genre, should pick this one up. It’s well worth spending your hard-earned spare parts on.
Haiku, the Robot £17.49
The clang of metal / The slash of a mighty sword / Buy this game today