Evan Jones, Games Editor, lets the cat out of the bag with his review of Catlateral Damage.
[dropcap size=small]Y[/dropcap]ou have got to be kitten me,” I exclaimed. The developer Chris Chung (with support from Fire Hose Games) had just sent me a review copy of his mew video game, Catlateral Damage, a first-person destructive cat simulator now available for PC and Mac. I was sceptical at first, wondering whether this was just trying to copycat the success of other humourous simulation titles such as Surgeon Simulator 2013 and Goat Simulator. But after watching a hiss-terical game trailer and reading some paw-sitive user reviews, I felt purr-suaded enough to give this title a try.
The main menu greeted me with various household objects falling from the heavens onto an adorable, innocent looking cat – well, at least that explains the title! It also happens that the cat on the menu screen is Nippy, the developer’s rather mischievous cat and the very inspiration for this video game. After becoming the best of fur-ends with Nippy, I had to choose between the two modes that the game had to offer: Objective and Litterbox.
Objective Mode sees you spawning inside a procedurally-generated house where your owner is mysteriously absent. In fact, you question whether anyone even lives here. You then try to knock over a required number of objects onto the floor, because that’s what cats do, within the allotted time limit. Succeeding at this objective grants you access to the next level, naturally via a cardboard box you have to jump into, and this banks all the points you just scored (one object knocked onto the floor = one point). This repeats until you fail a level’s objective, leading to a game over. It’s surprisingly addictive and I found myself wanting to have just one more go at beating my previous high score, giving the game an arcade-style feel and making it ideal for short bursts of play.
Meanwhile, Litterbox Mode is a more relaxing experience. It’s very much the same as Objective Mode except you have no time limit and (surprise, surprise!) no objectives, which allows you to freely explore each environment you encounter. This is great/terrible (delete as appropriate) news if you are a ‘completionist’ and intend on finding all of the 350+ unique objects for your collection, ranging from apples to aerosols, pillows to portraits, televisions to toothbrushes. Only the most dedicated and destructive cat-impersonators will find every last item.
The controls are very intuitive, moving about with the WASD buttons, jumping with the space bar, swiping your paws using the left/right mouse buttons and looking around, somewhat aptly, by moving the mouse, so any regular PC gamer will feel right at home… their procedurally-generated home…. You can also find various upgrades in each house that improve your swatting, jumping and speed. Furthermore, there are also random power-ups to discover such as max swat, causing you to swipe left faster than finding your ex-partner on Tinder, and even catnip, which allows you to completely trip the hell out whilst you go about your destructive rampage of the entire house.
Occasionally, a random event happens to keep you a-mew-sed. Some change the environment, such as moon gravity, others change the visuals, such as disco lights, or you might get a challenge, such as catching toy mice or chasing red laser pointers. I also mustn’t fur-get the cat toys littered around each and every home such as tunnels, scratching posts and even toilet rolls that you can play with; each one providing an upgrade after you have a short play session with it.
I’ve yet to mention the lovely cel-shaded graphics (which can be set to either meowkay, pawesome or purrfect in the options menu) that absolutely complement the game’s style and character, or the simple but cat-chy tunes (soon to be available se-purr-ately on Steam) in each level that I’m happy to listen to over and over again. The procedurally generated levels mean you have an endless number of houses to play around in, not to mention a few secret levels for you to discover, in the form of the Supermarkat and the Mewseum.
You can also press the F button to meow, which I’m reliably informed uses cutting-edge meowing technology, and there’s over twenty unlockable cats to play as (“Tabby or not tabby, that is the question”) such as Mitten, Kratos, Catzilla and even Fart Cat, who incidentally farts instead of meows. Oh, and there’s over 240 cat (and, bizarrely, a few dog) photos that you can find and collect in the game, each one a pet of someone who backed the game on Kickstarter.
Despite all the lovely attention to de-tail, what we have here is a small, very polished product. This leads to my only major criticism, which is the game’s lack of content. With a RRP of £6.99, no matter how well it looks, sounds and plays, providing just two near-identical modes in the game isn’t enough value-for-money in my mind. After all, there’s more than one way to skin, I mean, pretend to be a cat. However, the developers have assured us that there will be future content updates to help rectify this, something which I’m very much looking fur-ward to.
Catlateral Damage is far from being a cat-astrophe! It’s a fun, well-made indie game that completely succeeds at what it wants to be but doesn’t quite have enough substance to make me wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s ideal for casual gamers, cat-lovers and those interested in becoming a cat. Here’s hoping it will be the cat’s whiskers by the time the year draws to a close. Now will somebody please clean my litterbox?
Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the making of this review because cats don’t understand puns.
Evan Jones, Print Games Editor
You can find Catlateral Damage on Steam. Think Evan is Cat-astrophically wrong? Meow-sey on over to @exeposegames or our Facebook page and let us know!