Haiku, the Robot - Switch Review
"Plays like any good Metroidvania should."
Haiku, the Robot; I’ve been expecting you! Isn’t it nice to see a Metroidvania on the Nintendo Switch because we just don’t get many of them? I’m being sarcastic of course, we get dozens of them! Which is fine for me if you love them, but not really for those who don’t. But on the flipside, if you don’t love Metroidvanias, then you won’t be playing them anyway!
My musings of a madman are thus; stop moaning about all the Metroidvanias we get on the Nintendo Switch because fans of the genre like me just want them intravenously fed into us, and intravenously fed into us they are, thankfully!
I’ll let Jordan Morris, the head of the development studio Mister Morris, open up the review with the following quote from their website:
"Ever since I was a kid, I loved playing games with an open-world where you want to check out where that path leads to? And the game just lets you!
I love that feeling of exploring a world on your own terms and creating your own proper adventure.”
Me too, Jordan, me too! And to their promise, Mister Morris has developed a fantastic exploration experience. In Haiku, the Robot, you play as… Haiku, the robot, and you fight some baddies in the world of Arcadia. The world and the NPCs are very industrial and robotic, and to be honest, I didn’t really follow the plot because it isn’t actually explained particularly well. But it doesn’t matter because Haiku, the Robot is a Metroidvania in the truest sense of the word and finding your way around Arcadia and its many nooks and crannies is what this game is all about.
As you would also expect with any good Metroidvania, there are plenty of progressively unlockable progression elements where you can unlock power ups (in the form of circuits that Haiku can weld to himself) and these allow you to either heal quicker, gain more currency from enemies, have more powerful attacks and so on and so forth. What I loved about this in Haiku, the Robot is that it all fits together perfectly and the pacing of the power ups was absolutely nailed. They all arrive at the perfect time just as your adventure was becoming tricky, and you can’t beat that feeling of going out of your way to find something that makes your life that little bit easier.
The controls and gameplay mechanics in Haiku, the Robot are also tighter than an otter’s pocket (as we say in the UK)! The traversal is great, the controls are responsive and the combat is simple but punchy and effective. What more can you ask for? I think the simplicity of the game’s appearance really fits in with the simplicity and strong execution of the gameplay as a whole. Bravo!
- A true Metroidvania exploration experience
- Fantastically balanced progression elements
- Tight controls and gameplay
Normally I find something to grumble about with the in-game map, but even that in Haiku, the Robot is more than adequate. I did find the wayfinding a bit frustrating at times, however. In each new area, you encounter a kind of beacon that you can find and destroy. Once destroyed, that area’s map shows up whereas previously, prior to destroying the beacon, the area is blacked out on the map. There were occasions where I knew I had to go to a certain area to progress the plot (based on what an NPC had said to me) but then that involved visiting one of the blacked out map areas so I had no idea where to go! I found this quite frustrating and, occasionally, time-wasting.
The monochrome/Game Boy aesthetic is beautiful in many respects but also a bit dull on the eyes in others. The graphics and audio in Haiku, the Robot have obviously been completed on a budget and are quite simple, but Mister Morris do their very best to make up for this, it has to be said.. Like I say; I’m not criticising the actual graphics because they are a means to an end, but I do feel as though there could have been ways to provide more depth and variety to the various environments.
- Sometimes confusing where to go next
- Graphics are slightly samey throughout
Final Score: 8/10
Haiku himself is small, but Haiku, the Robot as a game really punches above its weight. OK it doesn’t look particularly high-def or glamorous, but it plays like any good Metroidvania should.
There are other better looking Metroidvanias out there which aren’t as fun as Haiku, the Robot, so my recommendation to my fellow Metroidvania lovers is to go out and buy this game, while supporting a solo developer whose dream was to make a game one day!
Thank you for checking out our Haiku, the Robot Switch review, thank you to Mister Morris for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out)
- Bel Cubitt
- NintenVania Podcast
- Rachelle Suri-Tucker