Odd Bot Out is a game about redemption, perseverance, ingenuity, and friendship. It’s about pushing forward when your back’s to the wall and never taking “no” for an answer. It’s about making the most of the hand you’re dealt and seeing potential in everything around you.
And it’s about helping a robot escape a lot of rooms.
Really, only that final statement is objectively true: the entire game consists of 100 levels, each of which is solved once your bot protagonist reaches the exit. The beauty of this minimalist physics puzzler, though, is that each of those subjective readings is just as easy to find within its stark white walls. It contains no dialogue or multi-arc story, yet speaks volumes through the minute movements of its characters and the playful hurdles you help them overcome.
The only “plot point” you’re directly offered is in the first level: our purple robot avatar, Odd, arrives at a quality check station behind two other bots. The first two pass the test and enter the factory. Odd, however, clocks in two inches shorter than the others and is dropped into the recycling pit. Unshaken by this setback, Odd immediately walks out the first door and begins heading towards freedom.
The succeeding adventure requires getting Odd through 99 more rooms containing a variety of obstacles to impede and tools to assist him. The primary challenge facing our hero is his short stature: he can only step up a single block at a time, meaning most walls and pits will be too tall for him. Sometimes a room may pose no threat other than a tall wall just before the exit. The challenge, then, is to not only scale that wall, but to transport any items needed to do so from one end of the room to the other.
These items come in all shapes and varieties, from movable blocks you can stack to form stairs to mechanical snakes you’ll have to simultaneously control and ride across the room. New objects are introduced regularly as you progress, building up a large arsenal of potential ways to help Odd. Other recycled bots hang out in levels and move to form bridges; button-powered electrical generators wait to open doors.
The rooms of the recycling pit are like a dumping ground for Erector Sets, and you’ll often come across pre-built contraptions Odd must use to progress. Simple cars, elevators, and even rocket ships are just a few of the creations you’ll get to play around with, powering them on via manual button presses. Playing around with the toys of Odd Bot Out is a blast: everything is hands-on and immediately responsive to your touch. Tapping the front wheel button of a car will cause it to surge forward; connecting a rocket to a generator will create a fume of smoke as it shoots upward.
You’ll also have to build your own solutions, from ramp-able cars to precariously balanced bridges. Building items is easy, as everything that can be connected will offer an option to snap into place if held together for a couple seconds. This allows you to snap wheels onto blocks or create tall towers that will stay together even if toppled over. The building process and even the physics of how objects interact are reminiscent of SimpleRockets, although your creations in Odd Bot Out will inevitably be much simpler and never disastrously explode.
Each room is its own single-serving puzzle and contains all of the items you’ll need—pre-built or not-yet-built—to make it to the exit. The challenge lies in figuring out how to not only put the items together, but also move Odd in order to make it out.
You can build items freely just by dragging them around the screen like an omnipresent being, but you’ll also need to move Odd to new locations by dragging him forward or stretching him upward. Odd has a fairly slow (and adorably wobbly) robot gait, so you’ll rarely need to race him anywhere: it’s a matter of building the necessary path and then guiding him along it. Sometimes Odd himself will be part of the puzzle, whether he’s knocking over a wall or being attached to a rocket, so these two steps often go hand in hand.
The short, singularly-focused design of most rooms makes it easy to jump in and out of the game: the majority of levels will take less than a minute to complete and if you have to restart, you’ll rarely lose much work. However, this also means Odd Bot Out’s difficulty skews toward the easier end of the spectrum. I didn’t run into a real head-scratching puzzle until after level 70, and none of the rooms required more than a few minutes of tinkering before solving.
On one hand, this goes along with the entire atmosphere of the game: with no enemies, deaths, or timers, it’s a truly laid-back puzzler that allows you total freedom to take the game at your own pace. On the other hand, the puzzles are so much fun to think through and then work to solve that including a few lengthier ones could only enhance the experience.
But even in its current shorter, simpler form, Odd Bot Out is a rare treat. Every single room is a joy to complete, thanks to its variety of contraptions and challenges as well as the subtle charm of Odd himself. Despite being a silent protagonist, Odd is endearingly vocal: his giant eye glances around the room with curiosity as you move items. His tiny aluminum legs wobble hesitantly as he balances on top of a wheel. He courageously leans back to brace himself as a caterpillar-bot charges forward beneath him. Even if you drop a block on his head, he merely squats under its weight and blinks at you. He trusts that you know what you’re doing, that you will help him get to freedom, that you see everything he’s capable of.