Why Would I Want a Child Robot?

I got an email in the Daily SPUF inbox the other day, saying how they loved aabicus’s old Doki Doki review and requested that we review their game. Although I passed it on to aabicus to see if he wanted to review it, I decided to give this game a try. It was free, so why not?

The title of the game? I ordered a cute child robot! (I don’t like that term. I’m a household android.)

I don’t think this game is made for people like me.

I never really enjoyed visual novels with choices in them because the choices are either too obscure on what the consequences are or are way too obvious in what the outcomes will be. But I’m also someone who cares little

That’s going to make this review a bit pessimistic, but oh well. If you want to play the game yourself, you can play it here.

The randomly created robot child that I used in my playthrough
The randomly created robot child that I used in my playthrough

Everyone is way too comfortable with child robots that are actually servants.

The game premise is simple. You are in the future. You work in tech support. You see an advert. You buy a household android. You have to look after them for 5 years. After that, the robot decides if it stays or leaves.

But hang on here, what SORT of robot? The robot is advertised as a child, but it does household chores for you. And the robot child is far too smart for a 7 year old or 10 year old. You’re designing a child for yourself but this child, who will leave in 5 years (at the ‘age’ of 12 or 15), is it actually a child? The robot itself doesn’t seem to think so yet acts like a child anyway.

The line is very blurry here. Yet everyone seems fine with it. And everyone seems fine with YOU getting one. You meet up with a friend who is not at all surprised you have a robot child. All of this is perfectly normal in this world, for some reason. It is a bit jarring, if I’m honest.

Sound and music are mostly alright?

The music is fine enough. It’s standard plinky plonky stuff. It is all rather too loud though and somewhat distracting. I had to turn the game settings down a few times to find a comfortable level. The sound effects though leave a little to be desired. They are too loud…

Especially the damn alarms. There are some things that you don’t need to see every day, and at first you do feel like you’re repeating a lot of stuff, perhaps to bulk things out. We go through the same things day in and day out. The alarms though cut through everything. This could have been a 1-2 second sound effect but it drags on for too long.

The backgrounds are really, really nice

The art style for the characters is somewhat generic anime/manga. Big eyed, bright colours, silly hair. You don’t ever see your player character, but you see a lot of your robot. You can custom build your robot but I just rolled a random one. I didn’t care too much for the character design but I think others would like it.

The backgrounds though? The little felt and cardboard backgrounds? They were lovely. They were my favourite thing about the whole visual novel. They’re genuinely great pictures that actually feel like a nice setting. This setting does not work at all with the technologically advanced future though. It’s a weird mismatch of media.

The endings make no sense though.

I got a bad ending of “no respect” even though I did mostly compliment the robot child servant. The robot child decides she wants to leave after the 5 year period and do her own thing. I gave her hugs and her own bed and read a book to her every night. Sure, there are obvious paths to take (like asking your robot child to help you when you’re ill) but the line is honestly really fuzzy on what I did wrong. She’s a child. I cooked and let her go out and things like that. But she’s also an android. Was I SUPPOSED to always let her cook and clean for me? Or maybe I should have just hugged her the first time? I don’t know.

But did I even DO anything wrong? My robot house maid decided she WANTED to leave and go and do her own thing. That is a WAY better conclusion, I think.

The story is this game’s biggest flaw.

That’s not a good thing to say about a visual novel. But it’s honestly true. Throughout the whole thing, I am uncertain what sort of path we’re going on. Is this a tale about independence and growing up? Is it a tale about respecting those who work for you? Is it a question about robots having sentience?

I don’t know. There are all hints at these. For example, you get spam mail from some sort of political group which believes that robots have to pass a sentience test. But not only is that quickly swept under the rug, the only choice you get is to say what you think makes you sentient and the options are a bit of a cop out. Okay, I don’t expect that sort of philosophy, but why bring it up if you’re not going anywhere with it.

The biggest issue by far though is that the game itself doesn’t know what the child is supposed to be. It’s either a robot child or it’s a robot house maid or it’s an independent being that is neither of those things, who wishes to go out and do things on its own. And because the game can’t decide what it wants the robot child to be, it makes every interaction pretty awkward. If it IS a child, then a hug is fine, as is reading a book to it every night. At the same time though, if she’s a child, then I should be cooking and cleaning for her, not the other way around. And she should NOT be looking after me when I’m ill if she is a child.

Make up your mind and stick to it. Especially since the concept of a robot child is an interesting one.

Overall, what do I think?

It’s not for me at all. The story could be interesting but it’s too short to get much across. The bigger issue is that this game doesn’t know what story it wants to tell you and where it wants to lead you. This isn’t the sort of game I’d actively play. And having played it, I don’t really feel a need to play it again. There is definitely an audience who would enjoy this short visual novel, but it’s not me.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe. I did say, after all, that these games are not my cup of tea.

But the game’s free, and I’m giving the maker free exposure for their hard work, so give it a go for yourself.

Medic

Also known as Doctor Retvik Von Schreibtviel, Medic writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Medic has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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