WANrobo is a free Artificial Intelligence simulator for Windows by Npckc. The game puts you behind the virtual eyes of WANrobo, a home-based AI system whose only function is to keep its human's world running smoothly. However, as the game progresses, it takes a sinister tone as you realise that the human is not present in the house.
While WANrobo showcases a new perspective on an age-old AI-centered fear, other small indie games like A Pet Shop After Dark and Lilac & her Light are worth checking out too. Indie games give an interesting perspective on life, often on the more minor details, we are inclined to miss out on.
WANrobo presents as a piece of AI software rather than a game, at least while you're on the download page. Once the game starts, it's evident that you are playing a small windows-based indie game.
The game starts with the usual booting processes you expect from any computer-based system. Once WANrobo, the titular protagonist and AI helper, wakes up, you are greeted by a simple graphical interpretation of a house and its contents. It feels a little childlike and simplistic until you realise that that view is likely what an AI would see, instead of bright colours and exciting shapes.
A Sinister Undertone
WANrobo's duties are simple things that an AI would be responsible for in the real world:
- Turning on systems like air purifiers
- Checking various apparatus battery levels
- Browsing search engine entries
Only when WANrobo tries to wake up, the story takes a sinister turn. The human is missing, and WANrobo logs an error message. Further evidence of a possible global health and safety crisis can be found if you, as WANrobo, attempt to open a window. An error message pops up on the screen, alerting you to the presence of increased radiation levels outside the house.
A Cautionary Tale or AI's Fantasy?
The game is a little repetitive as it progresses, with the same processes each day taking a toll on WANrobo's state of being. It is very obviously affected by the lack of the presence of its human. The game ends with WANrobo finally escaping its hub and heading out of the frame of view to unknown pastures.
Whether the disappearance of man is the fantasy of every AI or a cautionary tale about protecting our environment more, WANrobo is an excellent way to kill some time and ponder the human impact on our world.