Have you ever wondered what happens at home, when you’re out and about (for essential reasons of course) as it’s left empty for unusual forces to stir? I bet having your vacuum cleaner turn into a homicidal home defence unit wasn’t what sprang to mind. However, this is the world that Roombo: First Blood throws you into. And it’s bloody good fun.
As soon as your owner leaves, the house is immediately set upon by burglars. It’s up to you, playing as Roombo, to stop them nicking all your valuables by any means necessary. Luckily then, Roombo is extremely proficient in defending the house from intruders and absolutely takes no prisoners.
In terms of controls, you can choose from two options. Firstly, you can play in Classic/Tank, where you use the left thumbstick to pivot Roombo and the triggers move him forward and back. This is the best way to play in order to experience the designed level of difficulty. The other way to move Roombo is the full 360 degree free movement option, which reduces the challenge the game offers but allows you to navigate the house much more easily with the thumbstick.
Handily, Roombo can hack all sorts of household gadgets such as sprinklers, fans, coffee machines and (somehow) windows to stop the burglars quite literally dead in their tracks. And just to up the stakes even more, it’s Christmas in Roombo: First Blood, so by chance it also falls to the plucky little vacuum to save the holidays.
As you patrol the house and set traps for the intruders using your hacking ability, you’ll notice grey cones of vision which each burglar has. If you’re spotted, they will give chase and this will create the opportunity for you to lure them to their untimely end. Otherwise, to do this you can honk to get their attention, if you prefer the more direct approach. If you’re struggling to shake off your pursuers, you can also take cover under furniture whilst you plan your next move.
As the house is splattered with the blood of its victims, Roombo cleans whilst moving around the house, filling up the blood meter in the bottom left of the screen. When filled, Roombo enters hunter mode, sporting a rather fetching red bandana in tribute to the famous film character who inspired the name. However, you are far from invincible, and if you get a good boot to the chassis three times, it’s game over.
If you manage to defeat all the burglars, you’ll be given a minute or so to clean as much of the house as possible (including the bodies) before the level ends. There’s no pass/fail threshold here, but it’s oddly satisfying to have the opportunity to clean up your mess before your owner returns, and prevent them having a severe panic attack.
There are six levels to clear, and you’ll receive a ranking depending on how well you deploy traps, how many valuables you save, and how much of the blood and guts you can clean up at the end. Unfortunately, the six levels are all actually the same level, except an extra burglar is added each time. Of course, this means that before long you’ve got your “hands” full, but this is actually where Roombo: First Blood is at its most enjoyable.
Once you complete the main levels, you’ll unlock a gallery of concept art, and three further experimental levels. These are lots of fun, and shake up the gameplay somewhat to offer something different. These feature scenarios where the house is littered with knives, burglars are invisible, and one where the intruders are small but fast. These form the best part of the game, and only start to scratch the surface of what could be done to develop the frankly content-light Roombo: First Blood.
The achievements attached to the game reward you for getting experimental in how you dispatch the burglars, and despite the admittedly limited creativity on offer, Roombo: First Blood is really enjoyable to get stuck into.
My main issue though is that it’s all over too quickly, and it feels like there is scope to develop things much further. It’s a good job then, as the title suggests, that more Roombo action is planned for the future as this is the first game in Samurai Punk’s “Justice Sucks” series. That’s good too as Roombo is a potential star in the making; one who communicates entirely with his LCD eyes and is undeniably adorable. Adorable, that is, for a worryingly efficient domestic murderbot appliance.
Priced at only £4.19, this reasonably priced experimental game is short in many ways, but still lots of fun. Despite nearly showing its entire hand from the start, Roombo: First Blood on Xbox remains original and hilarious in light of all the bloodshed. I, for one, am very much looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Roombo.