By Anni Simpson on May 31, 2015 at 2:25pm
"Catlateral Damage" is the current indie favorite showcased at PAX East in which you get to play a cat. Your entire mission is to create havoc wherever you go, throwing items off their respective surfaces, gaining power ups like increased jump, and destroying items like the toilet paper roll.
There’s not a lot of depth to analyze here, but do you really need a story? All “Catlateral” is – and needs to be – is a silly game that challenges you in a basic way, which it does.
In “Objective Mode,” you begin each level fired up ready to go nuts in your owner’s house with a certain amount of objects you need to knock down. That’s it. With some high energy music, just jump to it and start swatting.
However, the objectives themselves are deceptively hard. “Objective Mode” doesn’t throw on some easily-obtained goals that don’t actually mean anything; this game is actually difficult to some degree, which is awesome, because without it, the game could stale, which isn’t the case. Once you continue past one level, you are thrown into a completely new environment. The supermarket in particular can be a tough one.
In “Litterbox Mode” (get it!?!), you do basically the same thing without the timer or the item objectives. It only logs the items you knock over and how many.
The controls are insanely intuitive to the point where I didn’t even feel like I needed the tutorial. While not necessarily intuitive, other mechanics immediately make sense the first time you see them. For example, to open a door or an appliance, all you have to do is swat to paw it open. Makes sense, yeah?
The graphics look like very basic vector objects with basic colors applied to them. Movement includes sliding the object back and forth until it falls on the ground at an even angle. This in no way affects how good this game is.
Icing on the Cake
The bonuses, the cat pictures, and the achievements are all hilariously well-thought out and improve the overall experience. It is this set of small gestures that really sold the game for me. For example, you can earn an achievement for playing the game on “Caturday,” set your video resolution to “Purrfect,” and earn the images of adorable cats scattered around if you’ve successfully knocked them off the walls (and most of these cats are named; hi Patches Brown and Senior Missy!).
A handful of these unlockable cats become playable after you complete the level in which you unlocked them. I chose to emulate my cat Tiny, who is a tiny, black cat. This added depth to the game I didn’t expect. Tinyman also tears up the toilet paper (why not?), and it was deeply cathartic getting to do the same without the consequences of having no actual toilet paper. It’s very, very clear the developer Chris Chung weren’t phoning it in when he made his game.
For under the price of a large bag of cat food (not the nice kind), you can enjoy all the fun out of the cat experience. Buy it. Seriously. Bravo, Chung.
“Catlateral Damage” is currently available on Steam for $8.99 (10 percent off) until June 3.