Far from Purrfect
So we're a cat. You choose the model you want from the menu, you're flown around your cute cell-shaded kitten a couple of times, and then you zoom into its brain first person style. From then, you'll forget that you're supposed to be a cat. The movement is immediately more like ice skating than something walking, our cat can't run and jump half of the time - often just ignoring jump commands - and perhaps most frustrating of all, there's a definite momentum to to the movement, even on surfaces that you'd expect to grip. You'll often find yourself sliding off the edge of furniture and surfaces.
Ideally movement could have been implemented in a more authentic way, and the controls would have been improved mightily by removing the slippery feel that it currently has. I would have hoped for the slipperiness to have been restricted to surfaces that you'd expect to be slippy, while making carpets and similar surfaces much more grippy. Even such a simple application of effort would have made connecting with the character and theme much easier.
Release Date: 27/05/2015
Available on: PC
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The objects that you're batting onto the floor have no real differences between them apart from appearance. A sock appears to weigh the same as a massive golden trophy. They all react in the same way to being swatted, they all fall at the same speed and they all take the same amount of effort to be dislodged.
It would have been great if some more work went into the physics engine here to differentiate between objects that should be lighter and those that should be heavier.
Disappointingly for a game about making a mess, nothing breaks. You can knock plates from the kitchen to the floor and they'll land, slide about for a second and then stay there. I would have liked to see some effort to make things a little more satisfying to knock off, rather than placing the focus entirely on speed. Liquids could have been made to spill over the floor when knocked over, as could cereal boxes.
Failing to Make a Connection
The problems above all bring me to my major issue with the game. As a player, I felt very little connection to what I was supposed to be, and what I'm supposed to be doing. I didn't feel rewarded for any of it. Apart from choosing a cat before starting the level and that brief glimpse of the animated model at the start (which somehow often remind me more of the Churchill Insurance dog than a cat), you no longer feel like a cat. There's no head bob added to the camera and the paws that you swat at objects with are the only real reminder that you're meant to be a destructive feline rather than a formless skating entity.
The game feels so lifeless as you're swatting away at what might as well be hundreds of identical models. There are no unique sound assets - the sound is entirely poor throughout, everything making a low-fi buzzing sound when you swat them - nothing that gives any sort of satisfying feedback as you run around trying to meet the target.
Catlateral Damage badly needs some extra care put into it. Differentiating between objects and adding at least rudimentary sound assets that are vaguely related to their models would have been a simple step that could have gone a long way to making the game more enjoyable.
It's not all bad, though. There are, at least, a lot of unlocks available - over 230 cats. They appear throughout the game as actual photos hung up in picture frames on the walls, and you unlock them by - you guessed it - knocking them to the floor. So there's an overall goal to work toward. The sad thing is, due to the problems I mentioned earlier, the unlocks make absolutely no difference to the gameplay. As soon as you start the level, using a different skin makes no difference and you'll never see it until the end.
If you do find yourself enjoying the gameplay, you'll be rewarded by the procedurally generated levels that really boost the replayability, even if the levels contain areas that will always be quite similar.
There are power ups and special events in the game that will drastically change how the character controls - moon gravity, swatting power ups, speed boosts and jumping boosts make the game more fun to play.
There's certainly plenty of unlocks for people to get at, unlocking the full 230 should take a fair few hours of play, which will keep the determined invested.
The humour of the game is cute. Cat-mad people will adore the real pictures (and some of the names) of the unlockable cats - and I have to make special mention of the trailer, which falls into the ‘so bad it's hilarious' category - done on purpose, I'm sure.
Catlateral Damage is not a game I'd spend the €9.99 it's asking for on willingly. Comparing this to another cat game of the same price, like Pix the Cat, is a no contest. If I had to use a single word to describe Catlateral Damage, it would be lazy. Very minimal effort has been put into any feedback directed toward the player, the levels are always pretty basic - one of the traps of procedurally generated content - they often lack personality and creativity. It's a dull experience from start to finish, and one that I'd have second thoughts about picking up even at half price.
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Catlateral Damage is developed by Chris Chung , Fire Hose Games.