Meet Mr. Robot, a 2D square, and the star of Don't Die Mr Robot! DX. He lives in a 2D, single-screen grid where he moves around freely eating exploding fruit. Life would be pretty sweet if not for the number of increasing waves of enemies out to touch you and, yes indeed, contact is lethal. It's from this simplest gameplay mechanic that a ridiculously additive concept is born.
Although unharmed, Mr. Robot is not completely defenceless against said enemies since the fruit explosions will destroy whatever baddies get caught on their blast radius. Begin chaining these together and the multipliers kick in, severely increasing your score. A clever addition of a risk/reward mechanic will also gift you for rubbing enemies danger-close. However, that greed might prove fatal so you should probably prioritise empty space management to ensure a longer play session.
The game offers the standard ‘Arcade’ and ‘Time Attack’ modes while ‘Remix Mode’, taking cues from NES Remix, offers diversity with several unlockable levels where the gameplay is slightly altered to create new ways to play. All the modes feature rave style visuals on the grid accompanied by some acid style electronic music that successfully enforces the arcade salon feeling of the 90’s.
Then there is ‘Chill Out’ mode which effectively turns Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX into 'Vaporwave: The Video Game'. Both the music and the enemies get slowed down to a near halt, while the titular Mr. Robot retains his regular speed. It is true that the mode lives up to its name, but we were often so used to the regular game speed we actually found it difficult not to die accidentally while trying to slide off enemies.
Replay value is encouraged by in-game currency rewards that you can spend at the shop to buy customisation items for Mr. Robot, Power-Ups that let you get that little extra bit further and even unlock five special guests. It is a shame, however, that the experience remains a solo one, especially on Switch. It would surely be interesting to see more players on the field trying to survive on the ever shorter safe space among them, but alas this was not to be. Despite inspired by old arcade games the characters charming graphics are very mobile/cartonish like and that might prove to be a turn off for some people.
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot! DX is truly the finest version released of this game. You can drop five minutes into it or spend hours playing this pacifist twin-stick shooter without any shooting (or even the second stick!) without feeling cheated price/content ratio wise. A simple but terribly addictive little game that goes very well side-by-side with other trippy digital Switch arcade offers such as Namco’s Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus. If you happen to be having a stressful day, nothing better than pumping up the volume and just play Chill Out mode to eventual bliss.