You can always count on indie games to go where no sane developer would ever tread, and this latest preview merely reaffirms that. Catlateral Damage is the product of a 2013 “game jam,” where budding game designers try their hand at creating a game within a very small time frame, and Chris Chung based his idea on his destructive cat. Now, one successful Kickstarter campaign and Steam Greenlight approval later, the game is heavy into development, and we got a chance to mess around with the latest build.
You Get The Joke Or You Don’t
Catlateral Damage is a joke game, so don’t go into it expecting some artful indie commentary on the human condition, or a loving homage to the retro gaming of yore. This is all about a first person experience from the perspective of a cat, and the goal is to wreck stuff by knocking it off shelves.
That’s the whole game.
You get an objective mode, where you have a time limit and quota of objects to wreck, and there’s “litter box” mode, where you can simply wreck things to your heart’s content, but this is a very simple, arcade-like experience for people that just want to spend a few minutes destroying an anonymous home by making a huge mess. You should already know whether this is a game you would enjoy based on that description alone.
The graphics—as you might expect from a one man show—are pretty simple, polygonal affairs. There are no complex textures, let alone lighting, and as a result, you get some pretty rock solid performance out of the game in terms of framerate. The controls are simple, using the iconic WASD mouse and keyboard combination to hop around, while left and right mouse button clicks control each respective paw.
As with most arcade games, the real appeal here comes from a combination of simple, twitch-y mechanics, and perhaps your own need to chase scores and see how well you do. The simple gameplay systems mean you’ll almost instantly grasp how to play, and you’ll see everything the game has to offer within seconds of trying it out. By wrecking packages, it’s possible to upgrade the cat’s destructive potential, and “events” occur during the round to spice things up, such as the sudden adjustment of gravity to lunar levels, allowing the cat to jump higher in the 1/6 of Earth of gravity.
In some ways, Catlateral Damage is in an awkward place. The arcade-y nature of the gameplay makes this a real winner for the mobile gaming space, and it would work well in a commute situation where you just want to enjoy some mindless destruction for a few rounds. As a game played on a PC, it suffers a bit from being small, casual experience on a machine that can run virtual reality gear. If you still play smaller, arcade style games on your desktop PC or laptop and you love cats and destroying things, you’ll get a kick out of this game. If you’re the kind of player that only plays games like The Witcher III and believe only the latest Crytek game using the newest Crytek engine have a place on PCs, then this is going to put a smidge of dirt on the spotless presentation that the glorious PC gaming master race enjoys. It’s a good, cute joke, and a short one, but don’t expect an in-depth gaming experience when all you can do is jump, paw at stuff and occasionally bite things.