I love cats. They are adorable, egotistical, personal, independent, cute creatures that get away with things they should not. Some brilliant minds wanted to capture this and in 2013, Catlateral Damage was shown at the 7DFPS Game Jam, and a month later, began the development. With support from both Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, it finally got a full release and as you can imagine by me gushing over these furballs, of course I bought it.
Cats are wonderful assholes
Your humans are pretty lazy as they have neglected to clean your litter box, fed you poorly, or at least done something to upset you. Because of this, you got to send a signal and what better way than to cause mayhem and destruction? Within a first-feline perspective, you control the cat of your choosing, and your goal is to destroy a certain amount of things within a time limit and move on to the next stage. You do this by jumping on furnitures and shelves , and swipe anything from decorations and magazines, to TVs and kitchen-equipments left or right. You can also punch, but it is only effective for domino-placed objects, such as a stack of books. For immersive reasons, you can also meow , crouch, and pick up items, but these abilities are so useless, that even the tutorial does not acknowledge them.
Each stage will provide new scenery, though the concept and gameplay will be the same throughout every area: destroy and knock things down. It will require you to be on the move due to a timer, so you always feel a good tension. Also, just because you knocked down something, it does not mean you get a point. They must be either destroyed or land on the floor. If it lands on the bed, then it is unfortunately not a big deal. To vary up the game a tad more, each stage will have specific items worth more points than others, and if you knock down a number of the same items the stage wants you to, you will gain an upgrade.
Yes, there is a slight RPG element here, where you can upgrade speed, swatting, and jumping-ability. They are not essential and what upgrade you get are is always random, but it is a nice way to make a playthrough different. You will also gain a random upgrade by the end of a stage and if you do an event that occurs within a time limit. These range from catching a mouse, kill the red laser, or disco, and will appear out of literally nowhere, so you must always be aware if the top-bar tells you of a new event. Power-ups can also occur similar to events, and these can be incredibly helpful despite being temporary. Forcefield to knock more items down faster, catnip to make you go totally berserk, and maximum jumping-stats, are a few examples on how they add to the cat’s ability.
Sadly, the biggest issue Catlateral Damage has, is the limited amount of stages. You are supposed to play through at least 4 of the normal stages, with secondary stages being unlocked if you can acquire a special key. If you get a game over or quit the game, you will start from the beginning, so this is more of an arcade-type game with a clear end-goal. After you played through the main-stages, you will get a total score for how well you did it and be booted back to the title-screen. This would have been alright, if the levels had more variation outside of the locations. The concept will be the same, and while the events and power ups help, I cannot see why they could not be more creative with this setup. The stages have nothing interesting to offer, making them repetitive. The game lasts as long as it should with what it has, but it is hard to justify that it could not have been a tad longer and more creative. Still fun to cause damage for once.
Gameplay Score: 5/10
Through a cat’s eyes
Catlateral Damage sports a very simple, 3D look, with blocky designs and decent textures. It is not very good, but colorful and appealing by being simple, reflecting the game’s concept well. Each stage is different and offers something creative, from more familiar cottages and Christmas-decorated rooms to a lab and museums, so it sports definitely some diversity and imagination. The cats are nicely animated and are adorable, even if they are far from any technical marvel.
The music is unique for each stage and sports a lovely and uplifting soundtrack. With trumpets, maracas or piano, they are all happy go-lucky. Even the horror-lab is a more humorous take than anything to be frightened about. The cats meows are adorable and even some have unique sounds, but I wish the rest of the game had better audio. Breaking glass, plates and tossing books, should have had better and varied sound effects to add to the carnage, which this game lacks.
Presentation Score: 5.5/10
I do not mind being the old catman
In every stage, you can knock down pictures of cats to get different cats to use. They are no different in gameplay, only presentation-wise with even one farting instead of meowing. This makes it fun to unlock more adorable creatures to your selection, but it is not necessarily interesting because of the lack of diverse approaches.
Litter box is fun if you do not want to be bothered with by a time limit and want to cause carnage until your heart’s content, and the VR-mode is surprisingly fun. But there is really nothing here to grab me for long, with even the in-game achievements having more of a fun nod as in “oh, I just destroyed 100 different things” than something to strive for. At least there are some cool toys based on other indie-titles to seek out, but there should have been more to come back to.
Extra Score: 3/10
Many would probably shun the game when they see the score, but do not take that as this is a bad game. It simply lacks content for what could have been a worthwhile experience. It knows how far it needs to go with what it has, but for what it has, it is too little. More creativity could have gone a long way. However, if you love cats, you will definitely have fun for an hour or two, and the game gives you what it promises even if it is barely serviceable. This is the perfect commentary game and I can see myself introducing it to new players, and especially those who love to do let’s plays. It might just be for one occasion and nothing more though. Kinda like a cat-video on Youtube.