I took a programming class in high school and quickly realized I was not a good programmer.
After a few frustrating weeks, I decided never to write code again. Yet here I am, reviewing a game that’s concept revolves around writing code for a bot. This isn’t any ordinary bot; you’re programming a bot to complete challenging platforming levels.
Bots Are Stupid doesn’t care if you’re a skilled coder or a complete novice. It’s going to have you successful programming platforming in seconds. But it will also test your creative limits rather than your platforming skills. It’s an innovative and unique twist, but it, unfortunately, has its limits.
Precision Platforming Meets Precision Coding
The best thing Bots Are Stupid has going for it is its trial-and-error method. Usually, when playing precision platformers, your skill can be a hindrance. You’re not doing the platforming in Bots Are Stupid, however. Instead, you’re coding the in-game bot to perform actions for you. As a result, the limitations are, well, your instructions.
Players can write code to instruct the bot to move, jump, or hook. It’s a process that sounds simple but is surprisingly deep. You can get pretty specific with your instructions, whether it’s down to the second or even down to the frame. As a result, most platforming levels are solved by repeated trial and error of when to jump. There’s nothing overly tricky programming wise, either. You’ll pick up the ins and outs in no time and find yourself in a rhythm.
Since levels are completed by coding proper instructions, the game feels more like a puzzle game than a traditional platformer. You’re given what appear to be several options to acquire orbs to activate the portal to complete the level. This non-linearity only helps add to the Bots Are Stupid’s fantastic replayability.
For some, completing a level is more than enough to satisfy your needs. Others will want to do everything they can to complete a stage in the fewest lines of code possible. It’s a nice balance that offers varying strategies depending on your playstyle. You could be efficient, or you can get the job done, no matter the cost.
There’s a surprising amount of depth between this and the user-created content. Bots Are Stupid has a simple premise and isn’t afraid to make the most of it. You’ll think you’re just about done, but as it turns out, there’s plenty more to see and do.
Bots Are Stupid Sometimes Falls Into the Puzzle Game Trap
Since it feels more like a puzzle game and less like a traditional platformer, familiar genre tropes are a thing. Unfortunately, puzzle games have this knack for being overly complicated, and Bots Are Stupid is no exception. There are an unfortunate amount of times when I could save so much time by simply completing a level myself. I get that’s not the point of the game, but it doesn’t make things any less annoying.
To compound issues, as the game ramps up the difficulty, it tests your coding knowledge and prowess. I mentioned that my lack of skill as a programmer wasn’t much of a hindrance. While that’s true, Bots Are Stupid occasionally throws in a curveball that will leave novices such as myself stumped. Is it a user error? It’s possible, especially given how bad my code is in some stages. It’s still something that bears mention, though.
Bots Are Stupid grinds to a halt when this compounds with the trial and error method of puzzle solving. Even with the pixel visuals and subtle but enjoyable synth music keeping me engaged, I want to pull my hair out. These difficulty spikes are the biggest flaw of the game. It’s enough of an issue that some people will put the game down, even though more manageable stages await.
It’s a shame, too, because there’s a deep sense of accomplishment upon completing a stage. Doubly so when you do it with proper and efficient coding. Completing a level by any means necessary is excellent. But doing it in the most efficient way possible is even better. I want to celebrate these successes, but I sometimes can’t because I am bad at programming.
Then again, I couldn’t complete these levels if I sucked at playing video games. Well played, Bots Are Stupid.
It’s weird because Bots Are Stupid is a perfect game for the Steam Deck. Yet to get the most out of it, you need to play it with a traditional keyboard. It’s frustrating because this is the perfect game to sit on the couch, kick back, and boot up. Yet the nature of the game doesn’t allow you to do so.
Even still, when you’re wanting to sit back at your computer chair and enjoy something different, you can’t go wrong with Bots Are Stupid. Provided you can put up with its frustrations.