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Choice of Robots

by Kevin Gold

Science Fiction
2014

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Number of Ratings: 24
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- Joey Jones (UK), March 31, 2019

- Stas, April 2, 2018

- Sobol (Russia), February 3, 2018

- gnarp, January 29, 2018

- Gopher, January 18, 2018

- hoopla, December 7, 2017

- karlnp (Vancouver, BC), August 22, 2017

- John Ayliff (Vancouver, BC), June 13, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 3, 2017

- Laney Berry, May 15, 2017

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A must for any serious AGI developer or Roboticist. , March 11, 2017
by elspru (Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada)
Related reviews: robot, scifi,
It helped me discover what I valued most in regards to AGI development and my dreams for the future of robot-human interaction. I’d recommend it to anyone serious about AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) or Robots.

Play

I found the first play through to be the most genuine and enjoyable. My robots ended up with very high autonomy and empathy. I ended up replacing my arm with a robotic prosthetic, and getting a chip in my head, as well as marrying a robot, who said we would go to the stars together.

I played it several other times to get to various other story-archs I was interested in, such as the business, robo cult, hive mind and nation founding ones. I found them to be mildly informative, but most of all it was nice to be faced with these choices, make them and thus have a better idea of what combination of things I truly want for myself.

I found I didn’t like playing “fake” as in making uncharacteristic choices to maximize certain attributes, but found that I could play myself, just keep an eye on the score, and if all the attributes are over 20 by mid game then you’ll have maximum choice with what to do.

Bodies

The host bodies of the robots were rather minimal, though granted most of the plot is really about you, and discovering who you are, rather than gaining any insights about the robots.

One particularly incredulous part was where in 2019, a phone is used for the robots brain. I imagine that perhaps Dr. Gold was under the impression that Siri is an AI that lives in your iPhone/iPad, but that is a common misconception, as actually Siri lives in Apple’s cloud, and sends your voice there, and responses from there. The “Siri” on your phone is little more than a voice message forwarding program.

In reality a phone may be realistic in the 2030’s, as even in the 2020’s when we’re first scheduled to achieve consumer grade human-level computer hardware it will still be workstation/desktop size.

Right now (2017) only large corporations can afford human-level computer hardware, it can take for example contemporary 900 GPU’s to do the work of a Deep Learning computer programmer.

Storyline-Archs

In general I’m happy with the selection of archs available, covers just about every readily apparent eventuality.

Though admittedly I had to play through it maybe 5 or 6 times before getting to all the parts I wanted.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s probably one of the best books/games I’ve ever played in my whole life, and well worth the money.

While it claims to be 300,000 words, I think it depends on how it is counted. A single play through reads like a novella 4-5 hours, can be completed in an evening or two.

Can play the first two chapters for free, the whole game is the cost of a few USB cables ($5).

- chargefire, January 24, 2017

- magicnumber, January 9, 2017

- gobbldygook, August 30, 2016

- eyeballkidable, July 16, 2016

- scotttalent, May 17, 2016

- Aselia, May 14, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Waaaah - robots!, May 1, 2016
I have to stop reviewing the titles I love! Longer titles like this are more labours of love than commercial ventures and if we want to see more of them from Kevin Gold - who writes a seamless, broad and >original< narrative in Robots
- we need to read and review in their support.

In choice of robots I ended up helping humanity better itself with my robot creation made out of, yes . . . wood.

Why oh why I didn't see eye to eye with the department of Defence I'm not quite sure. . .
; )

- gatebuildr, April 3, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Long, highly replayable game. Spend a lifetime working with robots., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Choice of Robots is a game that has received high accolades, such as an XYZZY nomination for Best Game, and very favorable reviews from the general video game community.

I loved it. A very long game, perhaps of novella or screenplay length, and that is just in one playthrough. You can take wildly different paths, from prison to riches to love to all sorts of things. You keep track of 10 relationships, 4 robot stats, personal stats and political stats.

You are a young robot researcher, developing robot technology, and you have the chance to guide the development of robots toward autonomy, acting like humans, giant tank missiles, or advanced surgeons.

The gameplay can either be free-flowing, answering each question as it comes, or you can develop intricate plans to minimax your characters stats.

Well worth the money; this was the first commercial game that I bought since I purchased the complete Infocom collection.

This is just as good as Creatures Such As We and Choice of the Dragon, but longer. The only hiccups I found were inconsistent branches; when someone I married quit my company, the game said I wouldn't see them for a long time, for instance, without mentioning our relationship.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Cool story with lots of content and replayability, September 20, 2015
"Choice of Robots" is among the best-known (and most successful) games in the Choice of Games brand. It's the first CoG game I've played, and this is a very good starting point for whoever wants to check them out: it is a really good game that everyone loved.

You are cast as a grad student in Stanford working on a new robot, and you get to customise your robot and its education, which will orient the robot's stats (Military, Autonomy, Empathy, Grace), as well as yours (Fame, Wealth). Those stats orient the narrative in a rather explicit way: the choices you are presented with are the same (I think), but some of them will result in failure because a stat is too small, or some will not be selectable because a corresponding stat needs to be high enough. In particular, there's a big choice near the end that seems to appear in every playthrough, that determines which of 4 different chapters you will play (and some of them cannot be selected if some stats aren't high enough); structurally, this kind of acts as a funnel towards the endings, reducing the number of possibilities to get a more focused finale, which is nice. In the chapters that come before, there are a lot of events that can happen rather independently, depending on choices you've made and the relationships you formed with people, and it's a lot of fun to try to explore all of them (the number of combinations seem to be huge!); whereas the finale seems to have less important variation and opportunities to change what happens: the game still takes into account, say, your romantic option, but I found it was rather interchangeable (for instance, in my first and third playthrough, I ended up married to a human or to a robot, but their reactions and dialogues were the same, and didn't seem to depend on the personality of the mate very much). Also re:interchangeability, I 'discovered' my partner's secret twice ((Spoiler - click to show)we discovered Elly was Chinese when we got married, and then she told me she had just found out recently when we both got arrested), which made it feel like the game hadn't planned for that and that my partner really was supposed to be interchangeable.

For my first playthrough, I played as truthfully as I could, choosing things that made me happy and corresponded to my personality; I was happy with the options that were presented to me and where I ended up, even though (Spoiler - click to show)I ended up having a second robot that wanted to be romantically involved with me, when I didn't want to, which was hard to navigate (but hey, that's how life is sometimes -- and maybe I shouldn't have chosen what I chose at the 'funnel choice'). I was really heartbroken at the ending, but that was OK: it was really well written and I didn't feel robbed, and it still felt satisfying. It felt like "my story" -- which is great!
However, I thought that the game was fast-forwarding through some interesting parts, including my main relationship, which is a shame. I kept thinking that we were spending so much time talking about robots and work that my partner was going to leave me, but out of the blue the game skipped to a scene where we got engaged and got married. In that sense, what followed the 'funnel' choice (I had the (Spoiler - click to show)Empathy route I think) was more satisfying, as it was dealing with human-human and human-robot relationships in depth; I just didn't like that, before that, I was trying to build a relationship but the game didn't really spend much time talking about it, which felt like I was failing at building the relationship. I have no idea if it's like that in other CoG games, but I heard the style was to present you with big important choices; but I certainly wouldn't mind having more details put into relationships (more scenes, partners aren't interchangeable, etc) instead of fast-forwarding it a bit.

I came back on my third playthrough to this route / style of choices to see what changed and what didn't, when my second playthrough was a much more aggressive character. That second playthrough in particular made me notice something else (that in retrospect was also present my other playthroughs), that sometimes choices failed without really any hint that they might fail. So, you have a list of choices, and you can kinda guess what could happen, but then something else happens and it turns out it wasn't a good choice. I don't know if that's really a bad thing, I guess; certainly there are choices in life that you make that turn out to be bad ones, and you couldn't have prevented it, and it sucks and you have to deal with it. But in a game, it kinda feels to me like it was pulling the rug from under me; I was interested in the consequences of the actions, but turns out that no, the game isn't going to go this way, and by the way you lose Wealth. (Such choices that come to mind: (Spoiler - click to show)letting kids play with your robot, waiting for a clearance to start selling robots to the US Air Force, attacking Juneau.) Just to clarify, I'm OK with actions having negative consequences for the player, I'm just not really thrilled with the prospect of having random events blocking my way; I'd much rather have the game lay out the situation, give me a choice, then explore the consequences, negative or positive, without pulling something from its sleeve at the last second.

The writing is good, and the drama is well-managed, so that each playthrough feels like an exciting or interesting story. I also really liked that the world that is described is in the near future, and is very tangibly linked to our world; a lot of the times, I felt like I recognized the pattern from the present world that was brought up and explored in a section of the game, which made it feel very possible and grounded in reality. It's really not that far-fetched, in terms of SF, and I really liked it (see above: the game organically explores a situation we both know). There are also a few jokes in the game, most of them of the geeky kind (I loved the IF references), although at times they didn't really feel appropriate (there's a Konami Code reference at an otherwise pretty dramatic moment). Your mileage may vary. Also, the prose was mostly very good technically speaking: apart from a missing period once, I didn't really notice anything in 3 playthroughs.

To sum up, "Choice of Robots" feels very satisfying: the story is great, with lots of different possibilities each exploring different thematics; the world that's described is very interesting and grounded in reality, which makes it interesting even if you're not into SF. My only regrets are that the game fast-forwards a bit through the early relationships, and that some choices are unexpectedly bad. I'll definitely keep playing it and try to get as many achievements as I can, and I'll also probably check out other CoG games!

- HKO2006, May 24, 2015

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), April 19, 2015

- Emily Boegheim, February 1, 2015


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