Oculus announced a handful of projects the just yesterday so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see the first one leap from the gate today. Robo Recall is a freebie for anyone owning the Touch controllers, which it requires to play, and is nicely fully-featured for its nonexistent price tag. As a recall specialist it’s your job to take in robots that have gone haywire, which normally isn’t too demanding a job. Then all of them start glitching out, all at once, and things rapidly fly off the rails.
The core gamplay is the familiar shooting gallery style, but even in the two levels I’ve had time to play since the game came out this afternoon there are some good variations that prevent it from being another fancy version of Time Crisis. The standard teleport move mechanic is in place, where you use the thumbstick to aim where you want to land and rotate to adjust facing when you get there. The agency provides an endless supply of pistols in the two holsters on your hips, and it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to open up a pair of shotguns you can access by reaching over your back. Robots come armed as well, sometimes with better weapons than you’ve got, and you can pick them up from a defeated enemy and use them as long as ammo lasts. The gameplay wrinkle is that robots also come with handles, allowing you to reach out and grab them for a quick physical dismembering.
The grab move is just as important as shooting. Grab a robot and use it as a shield from incoming fire, rip off its arms, legs, and head, or just toss it at another enemy. Or do all three for bonus points. Time slows down when danger is near, and you can grab bullets out of the air and throw them back for another type of kill bonus. Each level has five stars goals to aim for, and between the score bonuses for creative kills and random goals such as “kill 10 enemies by throwing their bullets back” it offers a nice amount of replay. The stars also go towards earning and modding new guns, because it’s not like you weren’t deadly enough to the rampaging robo-horde already.
The other surprising thing about Robo Recall is that it’s actually funny in places. A group of robots watching When Blimps Attack opens up the game, and their cries of regret when you tear them apart (“Why was I built with a handle!?”) keep the game from being another overly-serious shooter. Basically, if you’ve got the hardware there’s no reason to pass on the download. Robo Recall is available now, free, and my experience with the first two levels makes me feel like I’m playing a 90s Sega (or Namco) arcade game. That’s great company to be in, and if we’re never getting a sequel to Gunblade NY/LA Machineguns, this feels like it will do just fine.