Review: Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk08 Sep 2016 2
Review: Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk
Released 18 Aug 2016
Just like the Amazon Prime show it is based on, Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk (.ipa on iOs) is set in a grounded reality where hacking involves exploiting the weaknesses and loopholes in software (and the people who use it) to get what you need. It’s a concept that’s slowly becoming more accepted in media at large as we’ve all figured out by now that William Gibson’s Neuromancer may have been a liiiiiittle off the mark when it came to hacking. From here on in I shall refer to Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk as Mr Robot 1.51 for the sake of convenience.
Mr Robot 1.51 opens with you discovering a lost phone in a puddle and deciding to claim it as your own. You reset it and before long start receiving messages from the people who believe you are the previous owner. Thing’s take a turn when the previous owner Darlene tracks you down, accuses you of theft and essentially blackmails you into completing various tasks for her and her cool hacking friends. Fans of the show may also recognise the name Darlene from the show. Despite this the game is essentially spoiler free and only really discusses events from the beginning of the first season.
The game takes place entirely on a WhatsApp style messaging application that you use to speak to various people. Due to this format Mr Robot 1.51 has little to nothing in the way of actual gameplay or mechanics. So for anyone who often bemoans text adventures or point & click games for a lack of interactivity or player agency you should probably give this one a pass. If you’ve ever played any point & click or even survival horror games though then the puzzle format will be extremely familiar to you. It mainly involves needling people for keywords and then using those keywords on someone or something else to progress. When typing out messages you are given three options to choose from and your character then types out something with the general gist of what you chose a la Mass Effect.
Props to the devs for the authenticity they put into the game’s UI. It feels eerily familiar to the point that I was switching between messaging people in the game and messaging my actual friends (yes I have those) and it felt natural. For the most part dialogue in the game is believable which is of no surprise as Mr Robot 1.51 is published by Telltale and developed by Night School Studio who you may know from the much beloved Oxenfree. With that being said however there are a couple of instances where characters display emotions or responses to situations that are inappropriate to the point of being immersion breaking. A prime example is when a few characters are considering cancelling a trip due to a friend’s sister being hospitalised and one of them rather maliciously hopes for her death when the trip is cancelled. Instead of scolding her, the group responds with “LOLs”.
A concept that Mr Robot 1.51 glosses over almost entirely is the idea of assuming someone else’s identity. From the get go you will be pretending to be someone else so that you can convince whoever you’re talking to to give you what you need. However I was never really challenged by anyone even though in some cases I was pretending to be a close friend or colleague of the person I was conversing with.
Speaking of challenge, as someone whose blood boils after just a level or two of games like Portal or Myst I find it very hard to believe that I’ve managed to avoid any form of failure simply through the sheer brilliance of my lateral thinking. In conversations with people the game is very lenient and will always provide you a new avenue or path towards your goal. In fact it’s lenient to the point where I’m not even sure if fail states exist here. They’re really rare, at the very least.
Mr Robot 1.51 often makes you wait between conversations or tasks to make it seem like you’re talking to real people who have lives and things to do besides entertaining conversations with you. Unlike most mobile games this is not done to encourage using up currency to fuel a micro-transaction business model as the game is devoid of IAPs all together. While this added layer of immersion is theoretically a nice touch I was forced to wait over 10 hours on a couple of occasions. It makes the game feel more like that one friend you have who takes forever to respond to a text or message. And when they do the response looks more like a novella than anything else.
Despite the game being both simplistic and a fairly small download it runs fairly poorly for what it is. At first I thought my tendency towards using too much of my phones memory was rearing its ugly head but a quick glance at the app store shows that I’m in no way an outlier. There are numerous reports of bugs and crashes that essentially force you to reset your progress, I myself suffered one. That crash is made worse by the aforementioned fact that Mr Robot 1.51 loves to make you play the waiting game. And with regards to waiting as well the game also takes far too long to load up.
Mr Robot 1.51 is sadly something I doubt I’d even recommend to fans of the show unless you just really want more of that universe to latch on to. It’s a classic case of a promising premise being held down by a lack of proper execution and creativity. Small things like the tasks being less simple and AI responding to keywords or phrases I type myself would’ve gone a long way towards making to game more fun. But as it is now Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk feels like a simple cash grab piggybacking of the show’s popularity instead of something with actual time and effort put into it.