I’ve often argued that cats live the good life. I live a life of stress and responsibility, while my cat sleeps and eats whenever she wants, and tears the house up with no regard for my personal property. Catlateral Damage finally lets us walk a mile in the shoes… err… paws of the average cat. But does this cat simulator good enough for your cat-simulating needs? Find out in our Catlateral Damage review.
Catlateral Damage began life as an entry to the 7DFPS Game Jam but quickly grew legs and indie dev Chris Chung rolled that hype into a successful Kickstarter campaign. Now the full game is out, and I was given a free key for a chancve to take it for a spin prior to release.
Catlateral Damage is easy to explain – you are a cat. Your job is to destroy things. Levels begin with you in a neatly organized house. Using your cat powers of “jump” and also “paw stuff,” you must create chaos as fast as possible. In the default mode, there is a number of things that must be destroyed or knocked over in a given amount of time in order to pass the level. When the level is complete, you can jump in a box and take a nap, heading for the next level.
Pro Tip There are areas of the house – book shelves, especially – where there are lots of things that can be knocked over very rapidly. Start with these areas, and you’ll have no trouble meeting the goal before time runs out.
The overall art style reminds me of Katamari Damacy with its low res textures and low poly items. There’s also a common thread of messing up household items in order to win. The soundtrack is catchy and fun, and varied enough so as not to become overly repetitive.
There are a few twists – timed events change physics, spawn powerups, or distract you from your goal with laser pointers and rat chasing minigames. There’s also some RPG elements, as you can collect various items to boost your jump height, swat power, and speed. These upgrades only last until you quit the game or lose, so every time you play you’ll have to start from scratch.
Pro Tip Upgrades can be found by repeatedly clawing cat toys and other items scattered about which sparkle. You can search for upgrades after the objective is complete, so if you’re low on time, focus on the objective first!
Although most levels in Catlateral Damage stick to the simple “paw stuff until time runs out” formula, there are a couple of secret bonus levels. These levels trade the standard objectives for a shopping list in the supermar-kat level, and a “valuables destruction rampage” in the meow-seum.
Pro Tip Trying to find the secret levels? There are special items that, when broken, spawn keys that will allow you to get to them. They don’t always spawn, so you’ll have to check carefully. Both items are themed to match the level they take you to.
There’s also a “litterbox” mode, where the objectives are completely gone and you can knock stuff over or move on to the next level to your heart’s content.
Since the basic modes are kind of bare, the staying power of the game is mostly in achievements and collectibles. I’d say if you wanted to get 100% of all of these you’re probably looking at a good 5-6 hours of play.
I hate to say it, but as it stands Catlateral Damage feels a bit thin. On the one hand, it’s very relaxing to just make a big mess, and I found myself losing track of time while I played. However, there’s a real dearth of variety – there’s so much reuse between levels that it quickly becomes repetitive.
Some of the missed Kickstarter stretch goals would probably help here. Something like Steam Workshop support, a few more game modes, or some different itemsets would go a long way towards rounding out the experience. If the game sells well, I hope we’ll see updates in the future.
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It’s silly fun for a few hours or in short bursts, but despite procedurally generated levels Catlateral Damage lacks staying power.