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Haiku The Robot Review

Haiku The Robot is not coy about being inspired by Hallow Knight. After all, if you’re going to copy somebody’s homework and rework it, may as well lift from the smartest kid in the class.

There is a difference between being “inspired by”, and carelessly imitating or ripping off. Rip-offs tend to be lazy, uninspired cash-grabs that have no soul. Haiku The Robot is definitely not that- it is very apparent that its designer poured a lot of care into this and truly loved Hallow Knight.

How does Haiku The Robot manage to stand out in the vast junkyard of indie “metroidvanias”? How it different from Hollow Knight? Find out in our Haiku The Robot review!

Haiku The Robot
Developer: Mister Morris Games
Publisher: Mister Morris Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac iOS, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $19.99 USD 

Haiku The Robot follows the established playbook on moody “metroidvania” very closely. It does not take any risks and is not especially remarkable in any specific aspect. While it is very vanilla in concept, the developer manages to have a grasp of the finer points of level design and tight action.

There is a compelling allure to the way the game begins and unfolds, the deeper the player goes. Like the many titles that inspired it, Haiku The Robot leans heavily on a sense of mystery to its ambiance. Haiku is a robot and he lives in a bleak world populated by robots. Humans are long gone and the Haiku’s quest is to find the creators.

The junkyards and derelict ruins claimed by nature are massive and level design is diverse with platforms and winding corridors. There is a flow to moving through the locales and Haiku’s weapon has a satisfying pushback that can also serve as a bounce against foes and even pointy hazards.

As always, players will be scouring a labyrinth and hitting dead-ends and locked passages. Haiku will find power-ups and abilities that expand the range of movement in order to progress and do battle with big bosses.

Haiku The Robot may not reinvent anything and it isn’t very challenging either. It borders on being generic at times and the only thing that makes this game stand out is its visual style.

The color pallet is intentionally limited. This helps the environmental theming and makes it so players can quickly associate certain regions with their respective colors.

The drawback to relying on a limited color scheme is that the theming does inevitably become very repetitive and boring to look at. There could have been more of an effort to make some of the backgrounds pop a bit more and have more detail. At times, Haiku The Robot looks like it is unfinished.

The character designs leave a lot to be desired. Most of the characters are supposed to be robots, but a majority of them look like they could be anything.

Haiku in particular resembles something that would be believable as something Kirby would have encountered. He is rotund and has puny little hands and feet, but without limbs.

Haiku doesn’t have much of a striking silhouette and isn’t very expressive. The best thing about him is that he has a tight and compact hit-box and has a large sweeping attack range.

Like Hollow Knight, Haiku The Robot‘s melee is very finely tuned and requires players to consider a bit of a delay between swings and knock back.

The developer must have agonized over how to recapture the kinesthetics in Hollow Knight‘s combat. It is a delicate balance that Haiku The Robot manages to nail and what you get is a game that feels like a kid-brother alternative to Team Cherry’s opus.

Haiku The Robot is a much shorter and easier experience than the big boy game with insects. The best way to describe the game is that it is a lower barrier of entry so that kids can get to grips with elaborate and maze-like, search-and-find style action-platformers.

Kids will enjoy the little nods and references throughout the 10-12 hour adventure. The bopping music is lively most of the time and is foreboding only some of the time. The tone is balanced where it won’t become overbearing for children.

Mister Morris Games managed to avoid making Haiku The Robot feel like a rip-off of Hollow Knight by being inspired by it and not copying it.

By not making it a bleak setting with overtones of the end of times, this “metroidvania”, manages to feel different enough that it is worth a look for fans of the genre who want something a bit more easy-going.

At worst, Haiku The Robot can feel forgettable due to how by-the-numbers it is. Its art style is just serviceable, but the playability and kinesthetic feel of the controls make it one of the better “metroidvania” games out there.

Haiku The Robot was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Mister Morris Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Haiku The Robot is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Mac iOS and Nintendo Swiitch.

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The Verdict: 7

The Good

  • Varied and large level design with thoughtful theming
  • Responsive and snappy swordplay and platforming
  • Cheeky references
  • Limited color palette makes the visuals have a distinct style
  • Somber ambiance and soothing music

The Bad

  • Plays itself too safely
  • Distractingly derivative
  • Haiku's boring character design

About

A youth destined for damnation.