Assault Android Cactus officially left Early Access this past week, bringing its unique take on the dual stick shooter to PCs across the globe. We’ve talked about Assault Android Cactus before – when we saw it at SxSW 2015 and it got its own preview to boot! Now that it’s out for realz, let’s do a full-on Assault Android Cactus review!
For those of you who have forgotten (or are just late to the party), Assault Android Cactus is an isometric dual-stick shooter from developer Witch Beam. The basic plot is that the core in charge of a civilian cargo ship has gone rogue, and has turned the automated defenses of the ship against its crew. (I’ll also remind you that Assault Android Cactus was showcased at the SxSW Gaming Expo in March 2015, where I was given a review copy from the folks at Witch Beam.)
The android crewmembers are the only unaffected ‘bots on the ship, and it’s up to them to save the day. The de facto leader of the androids is named Cactus, thus the title of the game.
The full release version of Assault Android Cactus adds some cutscenes that flesh out the story a bit further, and they’re a welcome addition to the game.
The core gameplay in Assault Android Cactus pits one of the aforementioned assault androids against waves of various types of killer robots. Each level has a distinct theme, with some levels focusing more on smaller arenas, and others move you through more extensive environments.
Each android has its own loadout of unique weapons, with some androids favoring certain styles of play. For instance, some androids have short-range primary weapons and must get up close and personal with the murderbots in order to deal damage. Other androids have slow firing weapons that excel at careful application of firepower. There are definitely some androids that are harder to master than others, and different levels may call for different tactics. Thus, you’re incentivized to learn how to play as many different androids in order to succeed.
If going solo just isn’t your thing, you can hook up additional controllers and play co-op. Co-op is a bit more fast and frenetic rather than the more strategic, balanced play of single player, but it’s still a blast.
Related Video Over on our YouTube channel, we’ve got an hour’s worth of Assault Android Cactus co-op!
Assault Android Cactus isn’t over if you take too many hits – you can keep getting up as long as your androids’ battery power lasts. Special battery pickups extend this time, so keeping your battery charged is an important facet of survival.
In addition to just finishing missions, Assault Android Cactus challenges you to keep your combo going and rack up high scores. In fact, in order to get the highest (S+) rank, you’ve got to keep your combo going from the start all the way to the finish. This challenge adds some replayability to the levels and keeps you coming back for more.
There’s also a lot of bonus content that’s been added while the game has progressed through Early Access. There’s a bunch of “EX Modes” that modify the game in interesting ways. There’s also several challenge modes, including a survival challenge against infinite waves of robot enemies. On top of that, there’s a bunch of cool art unlocks that you can earn by playing and earning credits.
Assault Android Cactus stands out due to its unbelievable level of polish. The art is really awesome, and the animations are fluid. It’s really easy to get into a flow state and obliterate robots for hours. The levels are all cool and unique, and each of the boss fights feels epic without being overwhelming or hard to process.
|Assault Android Cactus|
The bottom line is that Assault Android Cactus may be my favorite dual-stick shooter of all time. It’s challenging without being frustrating, and the game is smooth to a ridiculous degree. It’s worth playing for the solo campaign, it’s worth playing to challenge the leaderboards and for achievements, and it’s a blast in co-op.