For probably the vast majority of people, computer programming sounds like the exact opposite of “fun”. This mentality might stem from the fact that the entire affair almost seems like magic to the average person who has no knowledge in the field. Developer Big AB Games, however, is attempting to challenge that fact with its upcoming game Robo Instructus, which straight up requires you to write codes – yes, actual, functioning codes – in order to proceed.

So basically, the game takes place in a distant world, where you will have a robot and must control it to overcome various puzzles and uncover the secrets of this world. The thing is, you won’t be able to directly move your robot from one point to another just by simply pressing WASD or the directional keys on your keyboard. Instead, all you can do is writing lines of code for it to read and execute.

 
Robo Instructus trailer

There is very little hand-holding in Robo Instructus, but the first few levels can act as a basic tutorial for you to get a grasp of how things work. At the beginning, you can just sit back and watch things play out as the game automatically fills in some code. As you progress, you’ll then get introduced to some basic concepts of programming such as loops and if-then-else statements. That said, the ability to go step-by-step through codes only comes after you’ve learned tons of other stuff, so total newbies might end up getting confused or stuck early on, when this tool could have been immensely useful.

That said, you technically don’t have to start writing everything from scratch, as the game does provide you with some freebie functions such as telling the robot to go right or left, or have it scan the floor to find switches to activate or gaps to avoid. These will no doubt come in handy while dealing with the puzzles.

Robo Instructus
Guide a robot through various puzzles by writing actual codes

Right at the beginning of each level, you can see its entire layout, so you’re free to just write a huge list of commands that you want the robot to carry out, directing it through every single step needed to reach the end. However, that is not how the developer intended for Robo Instructus to work. The game encourages you to work smarter, not harder, and that’s where mechanics such as loops come into play. Why write 50 lines of code when you can instead be much more efficient? Basically, you can look at things intelligently and analyze what you have to work with rather than having to list out every step. Upon completing a level, you’re also shown a chart that demonstrates how efficient your codes were. This acts as a motivation pushing you to do better.

Robo Instructus Efficient
The game encourages you to be as efficient as possible

One concerning thing about Robo Instructus as it is right now is that it’s pretty hard to get into for those who are completely unfamiliar to programming. Granted, the Python-styled language here is somewhat simpler than some others out there. However, the game seems like it expects players to already know at least a bit about programming, which isn’t always the case. For something that requires absolute precision such as coding, one single misplaced space or comma could mess up your entire command, and that is something that can easily frustrate new players, driving them away before they even get into the good stuff that this unique game has to offer. Honestly, the game could have benefitted a lot from a more detailed tutorial.

Robo Instructus Difficult
One downside to this game is that it is pretty difficult for newcomers to get into

That said, even if you’ve never written one single line of code in your entire life, you could still jump into the fray, just be prepared to put in a decent amount of effort. The best thing about this game, as can be expected, is how educational it is. It’s a chance to practice both your logical thinking and code writing skills. If you have the enthusiasm and patience to finish Robo Instructus, you’ll find that learning Python and other languages suddenly become much simpler. On the other hand, if you are already a programmer, it’s a nice way to diverse yourself from your usual work while still staying sharp.

Robo Instructus is scheduled to hit Steam in just a couple of weeks, on the 16th of July.