What's going to happen when man finally breaks the gravitational chains that have forced him to walk the Earth for so long? As he expands his horizons, will there be just one administrative capital, or will society become decentralised and the isolated factions become empires in their own right? Infodroid explores the former possibility, concentrating on a minute part of an immense, integrated administrative network.
A planet entirely devoted to the administration of man's colonies is the setting. Interstellar bureaucratic offices cover its surface and penetrate deep underground. Instant communication is essential, with 90% of correspondence being electronic. Packages and important documents are distributed by a robotic despatch system.
Originally set up as a co-operative, the non-automatic despatch system soon became corrupt, with packages being 'lost' or stolen by unscrupulous operators seeking additional profit. This decay brought about a response from legitimate organisations, who produced defence and attack droids to combat pirates.
Droids make their way around the vast administrative complex by using fifteen major causeways - four lanes of bi-directional platforms move either side of a static central lane. Lifts lead down from the central line to offices, information rooms and junctions with other causeways.
You play the robot operator of the newly formed "Droid Despatch Company NLC" (No Liability Company). Starting with 8,000 Credits, profits must be built up by successfully completing despatch duties. A standard delivery droid can be bought for 3,500 credits, and additional parts purchased by visiting garages scattered throughout the city.
Play begins in an information room on the Great Circular causeway. The screen is split into five sections: a multi-icon display is situated at the bottom of the screen; above it are two text screens. To the left there is a main display, which shows your droid sitting in a glass cube, and at the top left there is a grid containing nine icons.
By pressing the fire button and moving the joystick in the appropriate direction, the cube is rotated and a new set of icons appear in the grid. Icons can be used to change the soundtrack (there are four tunes, or you can choose sound effects only), inspect the droid's equipment, view mail carried or exit to the causeway.
When the exit icon is selected, the droid enters a lift and is taken up to the central lane. The four lanes either side of the central lane travel at different speeds - the outermost lanes move fastest of all. The droid can be made to jump onto adjacent lanes by nudging the joystick left or right.
Delivery droids carrying out their business swarm over the causeway. Contact with another metallic messenger damages your droid's systems and jeopardises its existence. Fortunately, damage can be repaired by visiting a garage - your energy level is topped up into the bargain and equipment can be bought, sold, repaired or recharged.
To leave the moving causeway the droid has to jump onto the central, static lane. It can then bounce to a lift and descend to an office below, where packages can be picked up or deposited. As the droid makes deliveries, your profits increase. And as profits increase, the droid can be upgraded so it can deal with larger, and more profitable deliveries.
This is a mite confusing at first and it takes time to get to grips with the controls. The pace is fast, and the droid's equipment must be constantly monitored for damage sustained on the causeways - which requires a lot of concentration!
It pays to make a map and take notes on where items are to be delivered, as the interlinking causeway systems are enormous and can be rather overwhelming.
Many a time, I was supposed to be making a delivery and I forget where I was supposed to go! Initially interesting, but fun once you get to grips with it.
Infodroid is original, but dull with it - which just goes to show that originality doesn't guarantee playability.
It's graphically sparse - the effect of moving causeway is neat, but that's about it. The four soundtracks are 'samey', and the simple spot FX aren't much of an alternative. There is a fair degree of depth, but I found the task of delivering 'mail' very tedious and wasn't inspired to play for very long. See what you think - I'm afraid it's not my cup of tea.
Infodroid is an odd game but very original and highly entertaining nevertheless. It looked a bit dull at first, but after a couple of hours play it became apparent that it's far from that.
There's more to the game than just collecting and dropping off parcels: you have to keep an eye on your status, buy parts for your droid, and even steal parcels and sell them to private networks!
What I really like though is Infodroid's depth, and the way you can interact within the environment. The graphics are well executed with lots of colour and loads of original ideas.
The sound is great too, with four different soundtracks to choose from. If you like spending time over games, then definitely look at this.
Informative instructions and effective use of icons.
Imaginative and well-drawn, but not overly varied or colourful.
Four monotonous soundtracks and reasonable spot FX.
The alien environment is tricky to get used to.
If you enjoy operating the despatch droid, there's plenty to keep you coming back for more.
Value For Money 74%
A completely new world is yours to explore for just under a tenner.
Worth a look if you want alternative entertainment.