The original Robot Unicorn Attack was a brilliant, weird, barebones game. You played as the titular character, running, jumping, and dashing through a pink-coated dreamland while the Erasure song “Always” looped transcendently in the background. The sequel takes those bare bones and drapes layer after layer of freemium goodness on them. Wait, did we just say “freemium goodness?” We sure did.
In Robot Unicorn Attack 2, you still control a metallic unicorn as it trots endlessly through psychedelic environments. You can jump and double jump over pits, and dash through star-shaped barriers. You collect coins and fairies, and jump through hoops for extra points. They’ve even added some rock giants with laser eyes to thwart your progress. The farther you go, the faster your unicorn runs until you reach maximum speed. These are the basic elements of the game, and it’s all good stuff. If that’s all there were to it, it wouldn’t be very different from the original. But they’ve added a ton of stuff.
The new feature with the biggest effect on the game is that you level up by earning achievements. At any given time two goals are available to you, like collecting a certain number of coins or simply using a power-up. Obviously, the goals become more challenging as you progress. As you climb the ranks, new power-ups and customizations become available to you.
All of the power-ups are useful for getting higher scores: they include things like coin magnets and rainbow trails that illuminate your previous path. You can also customize your unicorn with cool-looking skins, hair, wings, and horns, each of which has a different effect on the gameplay. You can get longer or shorter dashes, triple and quadruple jumps, or the ability to fly. Best of all, these items cost a reasonable number of coins. Unlike in many free-to-play games, you’ll never have to grind for an hour to buy one measly power-up.
The one thing you do have to pay to unlock is music. The game comes with a fitting ’80s synth track, but if you’re willing to part with a buck, you can unlock “Always,” along with a handful of other tracks, including “Battlefield,” which was included in Robot Unicorn Attack Metal Edition.
Once you reach rank six, you’re asked to join either Team Rainbow or Team Inferno. This sets you up for daily global competitions, kind of like in Infinity Blade II. Whichever team performs better gets bonus coins. If you want to switch teams at any point, you can pay 2,000 coins and click a button that says “Yes, I am a traitor.” It’s perfect.
Beyond all that, the graphics are mesmerizingly gorgeous, with all kinds of wild, trippy stuff happening in the background, like giant whales and seahorses with laser horns strapped to their heads floating by. It all adds up to a truly brilliant game that’s incredibly fun even if you don’t want to pay a cent.