One of my favorite anime of all time is Chobits; a 2002 romantic sci-fi series about a dude finding a discarded android girl and attempting to uncover the numerous mysteries surrounding her. Because of that, it’s no surprise that Robolife-Days with Aino drew my attention. It’s literally Chobits, but the android girl absolutely hates the protagonist. That is to say, she hates you.
You play as a student from an academy that specializes in robotics and AI research. Your latest project has gone south and, lacking the funds to start anew, you find yourself pilfering around a junkyard. A near-death experience with the guard dogs is narrowly averted when a mysterious laser saves your life. After some digging, you discover that the source of said laser is a discarded android girl.
After taking her home and patching her up, you eventually manage to reboot her. The girl introduces herself as Aino and, additionally, reveals that her objective is to murder you. Unfortunately, her specs are so terrible that she can’t do any real harm. Thus an uneasy agreement is forged. You upgrade Aino to be a more efficient killing machine and in return she’ll be your school project. Whether or not she’ll kill you as a result of all this remains unclear for now.
The core gameplay of Robolife revolves around raising money to upgrade Aino, which then unlocks better ways to raise even more money. Each job has several levels to it and you can unlock even more gigs through exploration or dialogue options. Aino always has a certain chance of succeeding at any job, which is influenced by her stats (strength, drive, calculation, and performance) as well as the specific perks of her current loadout. You can reinvest this money into researching new parts (body, head, arms) that all have unique characteristics more suited to certain kinds of jobs.
There is an element of time pressure here. You can only do so much in any day and there are evaluations at set points in the story. If you haven’t upgraded Aino sufficiently, you risk failing these evaluations—in turn ending the game. This gets tricky because everything is worth doing. Even just going to the city map and visiting random places might lead to you discovering side-quests with fantastic rewards. It’s just a question of whether you’ll have time to do so without running into financial issues.
While I make that sound dire, Robolife was a bit too easy. There always appear to be parts available that are so game-breakingly good that you won’t have to worry about the statistics or abilities anymore. These then usually help you through enough jobs and side-quests that you can afford the next steep investment. I didn’t fail any evaluation and my stats were high enough to pass any skillchecks the story threw at me. In fact, I think you’d have to deliberately go out of your way to fail. For example: Aino has a repair status to keep on top off, but that never dropped below 90% for me outside of unavoidable story moments.
Tying this gameplay loop together are your typical visual novel segments. You and Aino are trying to discover more about her, but a sealed partition in her memory is making this difficult. Your professor and his android assistant are willing to help, yet even then progress is slow and not without serious risks. Throughout this process your unseen protagonist and Aino grow closer together, though she never quite shakes off the murderous intentions.
There are also plenty of other characters to meet by heading into the city, whose stories you can become a part of. You can help a failing idol revitalize her career, entertain the perversions of a catgirl connoisseur, or awkwardly discover just whose junkyard you robbed. The stories are funny enough, but also short and low on surprises. The same extends to the main story. The mystery isn’t particularly captivating and the characters entirely unmemorable. Aino’s sassy attitude had me laughing during a few exchanges, but it’s not a story I’d ever want to replay.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: this is all porn.
Several events scattered throughout the story (main and optional) will involve fitting your member into dangerous, mechanical crevices. Most of these will involve Aino, though there are opportunities to engage with other women as well. These scenes were certainly impressive. There are plenty of different illustrations across Robolife, most of which are only used once across the game. Most of these illustrations also have slight variations to mark the progression of the scene in which they are used. Unsurprisingly, these erotic scenes are also the most well-written portions of the entire game.
With a runtime of just 5 hours, Robolife is pretty neat for an eroge title. Nice sex scenes spaced out with simple but effective gameplay, and a fun protagonist at the center of it all. As long as you don’t expect too much from the actual story, it should be a good time.