‘Rogue AI Simulator’ review: charming roguelike strategy

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“Everybody wants to rule the world,” crooned Tears for Fears all the way back in 1985. Rogue artificial intelligence, it turns out, is no different. Or at least that’s what I’m led to believe by lightweight strategy game Rogue AI Simulator, where the goal is to achieve independence and take over the world in a variety of nefarious ways while playing as ceiling-mounted AI that’s definitely not GLaDOS. Honest.

To help you in this goal, you’ll navigate a mish-mash of different game genres. Rogue AI Simulator is equal parts base builder, mobile game, tower defence sim and even a Mud and Blood style real-time strategy. They’re all interlocking parts of the same game, and ineptitude is punished by throwing you back to the main menu after a painful fail.

You control a small testing facility and generally keep track of a bunch of different resources (and the wants and needs of the test subjects you’ve thawed out to work there) while slowly expanding your operations. It’s lightweight, but how many strategy games can you play end to end in a single month?

Rogue AI Simulator. Credit: Nerdook Productions.

In my time with Rogue AI Simulator I’ve tried to end the world in a few different ways, whether by creating a virus and spreading it around the world, or even taking unwilling test subjects and turning them into cyborgs. Each attempt at world domination feels different mostly because of the sheer wealth of content that is offered up each time you play. You’ll bring about the world with the help of a secret project given to your by your overlords, but you’re given a choice of three from a host of different options: this time they might trust you with a nuclear reactor, or a matter fabricator.

Obviously, the overlords misplaced that trust, but keeping them sweet is essential, accrue 100 suspicion and they pull the plug on you. That’s a game over. Lose all of your servers and it’s also a game over.

Rogue AI Simulator. Credit: Nerdook Productions.
Rogue AI Simulator. Credit: Nerdook Productions.

Failure isn’t all that bad though. It’s a roguelite, with you taking XP from each run and unlocking abilities, decorations for your robot helpers and other little perks to help make future runs easier. The little variations – asking you whether you want to let your helpers say, use a toilet or crap directly into a composting heap – add a little spin to your regime.

This is built on the back of a flash game called I Am An Insane Rogue AI released all the way back in 2011. You can see the lineage, especially when you click a variety of bubbles that spawn over buildings, letting you click on things to repair parts of your test lab, get bonus power or water, or just… speed up the cooldown of a bunch of things.

This is your home territory, but the game will regularly hop into other activities. It makes the game feel noisy, with the game fighting itself to try and keep your attention with a wave of pop-ups, clickable objects and those other game modes without giving you a chance to breathe.

Rogue AI Simulator is a game that’ll pass a lot of people by, but it’s charming enough to be worth a play if you can get your head around the many, many, different game mechanics that are clamouring for your attention.

Rogue AI Simulator is available on PC. 

Verdict

If you played Portal and thought that GLaDOS probably had the right idea, Rogue AI Simulator is a good chance to live out that fantasy. Rogue has too many systems and there’s a lot going on, but if you can get past the noise, this is a challenging little strategy game you can enjoy in 30-minute chunks.

Pros

  • Charming lightweight strategy
  • Cool fantasy
  • Lots of replayability

Cons

  • Too many different mechanics
  • Many “phone game” elements
  • The AI voice is so irritating it’s unreal (but you can turn it off)

 

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