Publisher: Chris Chung
Developer: Chris Chung
Release Date: 05/27/2015
When Catlateral Damage showed up in the staff forums, I immediately loaded the trailer to see what it was about before taking the plunge.
Immediately, my boyfriend asked me, “…Are you about to review a game where you pretend to be a cat and knock crap over?”
“…Yes.” I turned to look at him and said, “Their site says this is a ‘first-person destructive cat simulator.’”
There was a slight pause. “…Am I ever going to see you again?”
Truly, the man knows me well.
You might think this is the stupidest idea ever for a video game, snd you know what? You might be right. Still, I think that’s exactly what makes Catlateral Damage such a fun game. There’s a certain freedom to just… being a cat and wrecking things. There are two modes to the game, Objective Mode, where you need to knock over a certain amount of objects in a given time period, and Litterbox Mode, where there is no time limit and you can knock over as many items as you want before moving on to the next level. Both modes have their own appeal to them, but I personally prefer the stress-free feel of the Litterbox Mode.
The visual appeal in Catlateral Damage lies not with its complexity, as the game has very simple graphics. Still, it’s really easy to tell what most items are, and the color scheme is pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack and accompanying sound effects are cute and energizing, though I wish there were more options for background tracks. The controls are pretty simple. WASD is used for movement, E is mapped to jabbing your paw out, left and right clicks are used for swatting, the Space Bar allows you to jump, and F lets you to meow, bite things, or carry them in your mouth.
While you play, events will pop up fairly randomly. These events have effects ranging from changing the gravity in the house to that of the moon (my personal favorite) to turning the house into a giant disco (my least favorite). You might also have the chance to chase a laser pointer or a mouse. There are various pots and toys you can swat at, bite, or prod in order to unlock upgrades, allowing you to level up your swatting and jumping skills, as well as your speed. There’s a certain sense of achievement as you shove a flat screen TV off its entertainment center or make shrimp fly down the supermarket aisle. Meow all you want! Carry things around in your mouth. Destroy those dishes. The world is your oyster.
The game isn’t without flaws, however. I found that the controls were often not as responsive as I would like them to be, especially if I was running and tried to jump. I think I had a 50% success rate of actually getting the cat to jump like it was supposed to while already moving, which was annoying when trying to get up multiple ledges and having to start all over… especially since the jumping physics are hit or miss.
It’s also annoying that you don’t get points unless the object hits the ground. It was frustrating knocking something like twenty things from a ledge, only to find that that I would have to spend extra time (especially in the timed Objective Mode) knocking the same things off of the bed that they fell on because I didn’t get credit for knocking them down, since they didn’t hit the floor. There are also a few things that I honestly could have done without, like some of the extras. Disco Mode is obnoxious and doesn’t do anything other than make wacky colors go across the screen. Surprisingly, knock enough stuff over and the game starts stuttering pretty badly, though I only noticed this in the supermarket level where there are literally thousands of items you can bring carnage to.
Lastly, it was a little disappointing that the cats you can choose to play as don’t differ at all in stats. I like that they had so many different types of cats, but the choice seemed to be purely aesthetic in nature, which made unlocking the various cats a little less exciting. It would have been more interesting to have different cats be better at different things, like jumping or swatting, or be naturally faster or slower.
Catlateral Damage is fun to play in short spurts and is a great time waster. The replayability is great, as each house is procedurally generated, though it could always be improved upon. I do think that there are a few things that the developer needs to work on, but the fact that there have been two updates since it was officially released makes me think that we might see some of these fixes implemented in the future. Despite the flaws in its current state, I enjoyed playing the game and recommend it to anyone who loves cats even remotely as much as I do. For those fans of collectibles and/or achievements, this game has you covered, with twenty two cats to unlock (my favorite was Maya), two hundred and thirty pictures to collect, and achievements like, “Knock over 20,000 objects.” It’s not the most advanced game in the world, but it also doesn’t have to be. It’s just a fun game for people who like to see the world from the perspective of a cat, and to do the things that many a cat owner have feared since the dawn of time. It’s as if the developer is saying, “Go forth and cat.”
Short Attention Span Summary
Catlateral Damage is a game with a simple premise: as a cat, wreck your owner’s house while they aren’t home. It’s fun to run around and knock things off of ledges and shelves and sinks, though only in fairly short bursts. Additionally, until the developer fixes some of the issues within the game, I might recommend getting it on sale, but if you’re a cat fan and love the idea of goofing off, knocking crap off of tables and bookshelves as a cat, this game is probably for you. It’s a gimmick, but it’s pretty fun for what it is. I know I got a kick out of it.