STAFF REVIEW of Autonauts (Xbox One)

Thursday, June 30, 2022.
by Heather Webster

Autonauts Box art Have you ever dreamed about creating an army of robots to do all your menial tasks but are concerned that they’ll eventually overturn humanity?! Have no fear, Autonauts are here! Developed by Denki, the Scottish game development team that brings us such titles as Denki Blocks!, Codename: Kids Next Door and many more great games over the years. In Autonauts you're sent out to travel throughout the universe to find uninhabited planets with the purpose of setting things in motion using the power of automation.

There isn’t much to the story in this game. When you first start out we see our main character Autonaut in a rocketship setting off to build their own civilization. This is where we set the game options such as whether or not you want a tutorial, the type of planet (large or small) and the type of game you wish to play. There are three options for game style. Settlement; is where Autonaut codes, creates and automates to build a settlement from the ground up. Free; if you want to play with everything unlocked and build a settlement, and Creative; you have the freedom to automate without limitations. These are similar to the structure in other games better known as career or story mode and sandbox. I personally chose the full adventure of Settlement and liked the challenges it presented.

Once you have chosen your game mode, you set off on tasks to get the ball rolling on building a settlement. From harvesting a simple stick and stone in order to make an axe, you then continue to make more things from the blueprints available in order to start building your worker bots. As you go along the building and development you then begin to teach your bots how to do these tasks for you.

If you’ve chosen to do the tutorial Otto-0, your personal guide bot will give you basic knowledge on how to get what you need from exploring your new world to establishing industries and researching. However, be aware that Otto-0 only teaches you the basics of the game and the programming of your bots. It may take some creative thinking and extra time (or a good wiki page) to figure out the more intricate programs your bots can do. This is one of the enjoyable aspects of the game and certainly one of the aspects that I think about even when not playing the game.

The first industry you will learn to create is your lumber yard. Here you will need to program bots to carry out tasks like digging holes, planting seeds, cutting trees into poles and making products from those poles. Once you’ve figured out how to make all your products you will need to build somewhere to store them. While that might seem easy, the difficulty comes in when the bots only have so much KB of memory, and each task you program them to do costs precious KB's of storage space.

Figuring out how to program the bots efficiently with the little KB available is indeed a challenge and quite a lot of fun. It does help that the developers have included upgrades for the bots. These range from memory chips to extra hands and even a backpack. So far I have mostly used the memory upgrades since this allows the bots to carry out more commands. Basic bots have one upgrade slot while the more advanced bots have two.

To advance through the challenges you’ll help Autonaut research new technologies and build your transmitter ever higher as you complete plans to progress through the Settlement Hierarchy. Starting with Stage 1: Infrastructure and progressing through the plans until you reach Stage 8: Metropolis. Each stage is significantly more difficult than the last and requires different strategies to complete. In order to research you need to start your civilization of Folk that provides you with Wuv. Wuv fuels the research station. I thought that this was a super cute addition to the game and it’s relatively easy to keep your Folk happy enough to provide Wuv.

Autonauts has a pixelated Minecraft-style design that I find to be quite cute, almost like pixelated chibis. It is certainly an adorable approach to a coding game. I read on one of the wiki pages that the bot variants are modeled after famous robots such as R2D2 and Rosie from The Jetsons. Once you start advancing your research and get more bots parts this becomes a great way to customize your team of bots. The background sound is reminiscent of early COM Nintendo soundtracks punctuated with beeps and boops from your bots. The first time I heard the bot sound I was pleasantly surprised.

Autonauts is a great game for anyone to play., from kids through adolescents and even adults. Some understanding of coding would be an asset but isn’t necessary to learn and enjoy your time with it. With the ease of learning this game, the challenges and the creative problem-solving involved, Autonauts is a game that you can easily enjoy for several hours at a time. I certainly enjoyed playing it and look forward to several more hours spent automating Autonauts' cute little world.

**Autonauts was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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