20 Minutes into the Future, a large city has been taken over by an army of killer robots. To combat this menance, a group of hardened military veterans are sent in to take back the city by using Humongous Mecha called Exos. Unfortunately, the robots completely curbstomp these veterans and cripple their base, leaving the city's hopes in the hands of the group's Sole Survivor, a completely inexperienced rookie. Namely, you.
You are given 50 days to prepare for the robot's final assault on your base by performing missions to scavenge supplies for your Exos, find upgrades for your Exos, and cripple the robot army in various ways. There are over 200 missions in any given game, and each mission takes up a day. After 50 days, the final battle automatically begins, and you must defend your base in an all or nothing Last Stand against the robot hordes. Fail, and you and the entire city gets nuked.
Bionic Dues continues Arcen's trend of a seemingly conventional genre having substantially unconventional gameplay. There are several types of Exos, of which you can use up to four, as well as different commanders for you to play as that each give you a unique bonus. Gameplay boils down to a top down, strategic turn based RPG with heavy Roguelike elements. The enemy robots start out goofy and ineffectual, but quickly become menacing and outright deadly. As you complete missions, you will gain many upgrades for your Exos, such as shields, weapon mods, propulsion devices, hacking modules, and more. Suffice to say, there is a lot of customization options.
This game provides examples of
- Advancing Boss of Doom: One mission type has you desperately fleeing from an aptly-named "murderbot" while trying to find the control terminal to shut it down.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Natch.
- Artificial Stupidity: A rare intentional example. Some of the earlier enemies end up getting easily distracted and end up shooting their teammates. This becomes doubly funny not only if a massive explosion ensues, thus wiping everyone out, but also when its lampshaded by said enemy saying, "Oops."
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The given reason for the above Artificial Stupidity example.
- Duel Boss: Nope. You would think this would be the point of assassination missions, but the level is still crawling with flunkies to make that more difficult.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Zig-Zagged. Losing a few Exos during a mission just means less loot at the end and not even that on lower difficulties. Failing a mission entirely jeopardizes your chance at winning the game - not only do you get no reward, you lose an extra day as your Exos are rebuilt and your HQ takes damage (reducing your time for the final battle). Repairing the HQ sucks up another day as it requires clearing a specific mission.
- Enemy Chatter: The robots have plenty of pretty funny quips as you kill them, they kill you, or they activate special abilities. One particular example is a dying robot wondering why it was programmed to feel pain.
- Filler: Invoked with a few different mission types that give paltry rewards, but still eat a precious day to complete and are required to get to missions behind them:
- "Barricade" missions are the most straightforward, simply being a cramped firefight with few rewards.
- "Outrun" missions are tougher, requiring you to outrun a "Murderbot" to the end of the level. It's much easier to screw up and while the map has normal loot on it, you have little time to grab any.
- "Fuel Dump" missions are outright malicious. They're not too hard to complete (provided you don't blow yourself up), but they destroy adjacent missions on completion. If you're lucky, those were common missions you can do elsewhere. If you're not, it's a Bahamut Device installation, and you're going the long way around if you don't want to explode your Prestige Class.
- Flunky Boss: All of the boss missions pit you against a boss and their army. To make matters worse, most bosses have some kind of buffing ability.
- Friendly Fireproof: Averted. Bots can blunder into landmines, shoot their allies, or catch themselves within the blast of their own AOE weapons. They generally get smarter about this as time goes on, but it's still a key strategy in clearing harder missions.
- Genre-Busting: It is an Arcen game, after all.
- Glass Cannon: Ninja and Sniper Exo specialize in powerful, precise attacks, but have crap defense.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: The commander Emma gets no bonuses on the strategic or tactical maps, just a wider variety of parts in the shop and much better prices selling her parts off. It sounds lackluster, but she gets alot of parts to choose from, with much more buying power. Overall it gives her way more control over the parts she acquires and makes her junk finds more valuable, so she can fill every slot on her exos faster and more reliably than the other pilots."Shopping Is Not An Optional Activity. Shopping Is A SUPERPOWER!"
- Hover Mecha: Every exo and robot in the game moves on a hovering propulsion system. The game explains land-based systems created so many problems the entire field threw up their hands and developed cost-effective hover systems out of frustration.
- Humongous Mecha: Your Exos. The robot army. Kinda the point of the game.
- I Shall Taunt You: Whistling. Can have a practical use, since it alerts nearby bots, who will proceed to run at you via the most direct path.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Assault Exos are the most well rounded of the Exos, with good weapons, shields and maneuverability.
- Last Stand: The final battle boils down to one, spread across several days.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: "Exos".
- Mighty Glacier: Siege Exos have the highest defenses of all the Exos and posses powerful weaponry, but have low propulsion and crap science capabilities (hacking, viruses, etc)
- Nuke 'em: How the world government plans to deal with the robot invasion should you fail.
- Oh, Crap!: Beating the game causes this amongst the Robot Army: Beating the final mission, as someone who was originally a rookie with only one Exo to your name, sends the robots into a panic and forces them to retreat-if you're a One-Man Army, what's the rest of humanity like?
- Party in My Pocket: Only one Exo appears in missions at a time. You can change at any time, but doing so uses a turn.
- Prestige Class: Scattered around the map are four Bahamut Device installations. The game completely avoid stating what they actually do, but clearing these specific missions upgrades your Exos to an "Epic" version, considerably boosting their effectiveness. One pilot starts with all four.
- Procedural Generation: Every mission is seeded when you start, as is the city map you have throughout the game.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: There are many things you can do to make the game harder besides just increasing the rated difficulty, from taking less Exos to adding time pressure by having the game automatically pass your turn if you wait more than five seconds without giving a command. These all add to your final score at the end.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: A large-scale example. One mission type involves blowing up a fuel depot, obliterating any unfinished objectives it's connected to on the strategic map.
- Conventional examples appear in levels too.
- Shout-Out: Explosive Runes. They work differently here; here they multiply the effects of any explosive weapons or ability targeted at the square it's on.
- Squishy Wizard: Science Exos are best suited for hacking doors and computers, infecting enemies with viruses, and the like. Their poor defenses make them poor choices for frontline fighters.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Between Bomb Bots, explosive glyphs, and fuel tanks, one well-placed (or errant) shot can cause a lot of pretty explosions.
- Unwinnable by Design: Dilly-dallying and playing poorly can leave you with no chance in hell of clearing the final battle, especially on harder difficulties. And even if you're well-prepared, it will probably take you a few attempts to finally get through the massive army of bots.