Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Inertia Game Studios
Published By: Inertia Game Studios
Category: Action & Party
Release Date: January 3, 2019
Catastronauts, from developer Inertia Game Studios, is a space-themed action party title and is now complete from the PC counterpart for the Nintendo Switch. Catastronauts is very similar in gameplay to the Overcooked series, in that you must multitask while keeping a host of metaphysical plates spinning in order to complete an objective. While the similarities are wholly apparent, Catastronauts does enough differently to stick out on its own.
Where in the Overcooked series your goal is to fulfill food orders in order to make as much money as possible before the timer runs out, Catastronauts takes a slightly different approach. It is set in space, but the differences go past just the setting where you are dealing directly with enemies in a different ship and each ship has a health meter. The goal to is deplete your enemies health bar before they manage to deplete yours.
In order to deplete their’s, you must use your guns to attack and to ensure that your bar remains at a suitable level and you must repair any damage done to your ship by the enemy’s guns. Your guns must be recharged after each use, meaning that you need to find a nice rhythm for which order to fire them to be the most effective and get the most shots off.
As you progress the amount of guns available will grow and will include ones that will need to be loaded with missiles or ones that must be charged by batteries with the batteries needing to be replaced after a few uses. Sometimes you will have a mixture of these weapons and do you predominately use the smaller guns to do more consistent damage or do you take time to load up the missile launcher for greatly increased damage but slower firing rate?
As mentioned before, every time you are attacked your ship takes damage and to repair this you must use the toolbox. Sometimes the damage will start a fire and in these times you will need to use a fire extinguisher first before you can make any necessary repairs. Also, not only can your ship be damaged but you guns as well and it’s important that you keep these well maintained.
While this all may seem simple at first, there is a very satisfying sense of risk and reward. As you decrease your enemies health do you neglect to repair your own ship for awhile in order to go on the attack and finish them off, keeping in mind that your own ship may perish before you completely destroy them? It’s very easy early on to get so wrapped up in the constant maintenance of your ship that you can actually forget to attack back. Trying to strike a balance between both is key to victory and can be hard to achieve at times.
New features are added at a decent pace the more you play. This will make it feel like you’re making progress, but at the same time never feeling too overwhelmed. These new features include new guns to use, as well as other gameplay mechanics such as using teleporters, discarding of bombs, and initiating shields to avoid missile attacks. Each level grades you with up to three stars depending on how quickly you manage to complete the stage and the urge to go back and earn maximum stars on a level is certainly compelling.
As you would expect, seeing Catostronauts is clearly inspired by Overcooked, you can play in single-player, but it truly shines and is heavily focused on multiplayer action. In single-player you must switch between two characters with a press of the R button and this can get confusing at times. As you move through the levels the sheer amount you need to do, while coordinating the character switch mechanic, can become too much and really affect the enjoyment factor.
Thankfully, these problems are eradicated in multiplayer though, and with up to four player local multiplayer supported this is where Catastronauts really shines. Unfortunately, it is local multiplayer only with no online mode. Cooperation and communication are key if you are able to be successful as you will need to coordinate the use of items and find a successful formula in order to clear the levels in the best possible time.
Controls are easy to learn with character movement being controlled with the left analog stick, the A button allowing you to pick up or put down items, and the Y button allowing you to use an item you have currently. Pressing the B button enables your character to run and clever use of this will see you saving valuable seconds off of your time. There will be times when the action gets hectic that you will probably press the wrong button, firing a gun you didn’t mean to, but this will more often than not be more of a result of the frantic nature of the game rather than your own controls.
The presentation of Catastronauts makes a good first impression with the inclusion of a main hub world. You will find the entry point to various levels within the spaceship and there are a few neat little touches within this hub with various crew members carrying out various activities. I wish there was some more style to the graphics though, as most of the time they appear grey and run-of-the-mill for a space themed title. Musically, the soundtrack is suitable for the on-screen frantic action and characters mumble in a comical way that adds a little charm to the proceedings.
Overall, Catastronauts is a fun, action-packed, and hectic party game that serves as a great reminder of what the Switch does best. The local multiplayer is enjoyable, especially with up to four other players, and will definitely provide an evenings worth of great entertainment. While longer-term the appeal will wane if you play in just solo, if you’re a fan of Overcooked than Catastronauts is a surprisingly great experience
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