A few months ago, I played the Protodroid DeLTA demo as a part of February's Steam Next Fest and I was thoroughly impressed with its progress. While the demo only featured the tutorial level, it wasn't a "basic" tutorial level that I would be used to in a normal action platformer. There were many instances where the game encouraged the player to break the rules that Protodroid DeLTA had already set. Movable platform sections can be skipped entirely if the player was savvy enough to traverse through the terrain ahead. While players didn't get much of a reward in the demo build, going off the beaten path was important in discovering many of the game's secrets. I am getting ahead of myself as I'm sure readers have noticed the "five-star rating" I have given Protodroid DeLTA.
I will begin by saying that it's by no means a perfect game as occasionally there were glitches that would respawn DeLTA back to the last checkpoint rather than where she last fell. At times I would fall through the environment and endlessly plummet until I had to restart to the nearest checkpoint as well. However, these glitches were few and far in-between unlike other titles where it seemed there was no end in sight. Simply put, I enjoyed Protodroid DeLTA as it had the kind of freeflowing platform gameplay that allowed me to be creative with my approach. In each of the game's fifteen levels, I was able to glide and jump across boundless gaps. While later levels were filled with traps and intricate platform patterns, having basic "speedrun" knowledge can break the entire game wide open.
Protodroid DeLTA rewarded good movement and proper usage of momentum when combining Delta's dash and jump. The longer she dashes, the farther she jumps. Likewise, short dashes means Delta won't have the speed to make long strides. Utilizing these two skills to the absolute limit was all I needed to clear the game and it's very much possible to do so without firing at a single enemy. Of course a "pacifist run" is rendered moot when the player must fight the bosses, but one key element in Delta's kit made speedrunning through levels a possibility---her buster shot.
Unlike Mega Man, where the buster shot must be held and upon releasing the button the shot is fired, Protodroid DeLTA charges a shot and stores it automatically without holding the button. The lock-on functionality also helds tremendously as she "auto locks" her target. Pointing the camera in the desired direction will cause Delta to aim at her opponent, in which pressing the Shoot button once will fire the charged shot. This helped me greatly as my intention for each level was to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Having a charged shot on the ready, blasting it at a robot's face, and not breaking pace was always a satisfying feat to pull off.
The last time I felt satisfied in playing a platformer like this was Lunistice, coincidentally another platformer I gave a five-star too. The best way to win me over is by having fluid and smooth movement over my character and the second best way is to make me care about who I'm playing. Not only had Adam Kareem did a great job in the former, but also the latter. As a Black person myself it's always great to see a protagonist and supporting cast that you can relate to. Having the main characters be POC means a lot and the attention to detail for each character, especially AnnDroid, was something I took notice.
It also goes back to the game's inspiration, Mega Man X, specifically X7. Delta is very much this game's X as she doesn't want to fight but she won't allow the Mavericks---Vyper Masters to do as they please. The "Vypers" in this game, all being human, look at Delta with initial disdain as she is a "mere robot." She's the very individual that the Vypers are wary of, thus their lack of trust in Delta is warranted. This is also a source of conflict as her master, Dr. Shelton, had instilled her beliefs of non-violence into Delta. As is life, everyone has different ideologies on what real peace is. It may seem hypocritical of Delta to eventually resort to violence and there's plot reasons for this that I won't say for spoilers, but it all comes together in a cliffhanger by the end.
Protodroid DeLTA will take at least six hours for an average playthrough although the margin of time can drastically decrease should the player get familiar with the level layout. Stages that took a half hour per level, due to exploration. were re-cleared in minutes as I'd replay to see if I missed out on any important upgrades. There are four stages in total, each split into three levels, a sub-boss, and the stage boss. In each stage, there are two possible upgrades for DeLTA, one given by AnnDroid to increase her saber skills and one by the doc which increases Delta's capabilities.
By the time I entered the final stage, I was missing one AnnDroid weapon skill and one of Doctor's upgrades, but I've cleared enough bonus stages to have a healthy amount of energy and life upgrades. Even without obtaining every possible upgrade, the boss fights weren't much of a challenge. Each boss fight has a specific mechanic that must be followed but this was trivialized by simply tanking hits and firing super charged buster shots thanks to my upgrade.
My advice for players who wish for a challenge is to limit the number of upgrades obtained. Protodroid DeLTA's main challenge is the platforming which gives even Crash 4 a run for its money, and these were the game's best moments. Scattered throughout each level are purple chips that unlocks bonus outfits for Delta, with each based on a Mega Man X outfit. Here is the description for each outfit as well as what their respective reference is. I believe I got these correct.
- Type-D3L - Delta's default design
- Type-X1 - Based on X's design from Mega Man X
- Type-ZR0 - Zero from Mega Man X
- Type-AX7 - Axl from Mega Man X7
- Type-UL - Vile from Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
- Type-SGM -
Emperor Zurg from Buzz Lightyear Star CommandSigma from Mega Man X
- Type-LA1 - X's First Armor (Or Light Armor) from Mega Man X1
The suits are purely cosmetic, meaning players won't get the benefits given usually for using the First Armor nor is there any "armor collecting" to be done. Although this gives me an idea for a potential sequel where, just like in Mega Man X2, Delta has to find AnnDroid's parts. Those who played X2 knows what follows after and there are a lot of hints that there may be a fight between the two replo--protodroids in the near future. If there was one game I would recommend for players to pick up as we reach the halfway mark of 2023 (man, time flies), it would be Protodroid DeLTA.
I'd even choose this over the recently released Mega Man Battle Network Collection not because there are already enough card-battle roguelikes but also because it gives an underrated game its roses. As a younger gamer, I completely skipped Mega Man X7 because reviews were scathing at the time. This game alone makes me want to play X7 for the first time just to see if I missed out on a hidden gem. If that game is anything like Protodroid DeLTA was, I'm sure I'm in for a fun time.
Protodroid DeLTA is now available on the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. This review was made possible thanks to Humble Games and the developer of this amazing inspired title.