Have you ever had one of those days where you just need to cause as much mayhem as possible? Enter Catlateral Damage, a first person simulator where you play as an adorable kitty running around knocking down anything you can get your paws on. First made back in August of 2013 at 7 Day FPS (7DFPS) Game Jam, the developer Chris Chung wanted to make a first-person game with a twist. Since he grew up with cats, a simulator where you play as a cat was a perfect choice. After successfully getting Greenlit on Steam, Catlateral Damage exceeded its Kickstarter goal, joined up with Fire Hose Games’ indie accelerator program, and is now in Early Access, but only to backers who backed at least $20 and those who purchased a code at their booth at PAX East 2015.
One of the biggest problems with the simulator genre is that after a certain amount of time, players can get tired of the game, and move on to more exciting ventures. Does Catlateral Damage fall into this category? Not at all. There’s something so cathartic about jumping around a house, knocking down everything. There is always an item that is worth more points than regular items, and as well as a fun ‘knock all of these items down’ challenge underneath the remaining time. The time limit and score goal keeps the game fast-paced, and requires a good grasp of the controls in order to meet the goal within the time limit. The controls for the game are refreshingly simple, use the WASD keys to walk around, the spacebar to jump, move the mouse around to look around, and the mouse buttons to swat your paws. Another great freedom implemented is a field of view setting in the options. This makes the game seem more like it’s in 3D space, and can help players judge distance better than the default view. The game also has Xbox 360 controller support, which for a console player like me, is a welcome addition to jumbling my fingers on the keyboard. The one flaw that the controller has over keyboard control is the camera controls are very sluggish compared to using the mouse, which could be a problem if you need a few last second points to achieve the goal. Other than that one small problem, the controls are tight, and it really feels like you are the cat jumping and running around the level.
If the game was just jumping around and knocking objects down, it might be very boring after a few play sessions. Luckily, Catlateral Damage has a few tricks up its sleeve. One such trick is the upgrade system, where boxes containing orbs that up your movement speed, jumping ability, and swatting ability are dropped somewhere in the level. Upgrades are actually apparent the second you pick up the upgrade, which is a welcome and perhaps necessary mechanic, since the spawning of upgrades are random. As well as random spawning upgrades, some other events include moon jump mode, high item values are now worth 10x the amount of points, randomizing the item value points, and the lights going out. These events only last 30 seconds and they add a little bit of variety and strategy to the game. Should you go for the new upgrade, or should you stay in the current room and knock the rest of these books down for the points? Its choices and events like these that make Catlateral Damage a unique game every time you open the game.
There are currently a few different levels to play in, from a house level, to a mewseum level, and a super markat level. By the way, this game is full of cat puns, if you couldn’t already tell. According to the dev blog, the next update will include different types of houses, such as modern and log cabin, and implementing different playable cats. One of the Kickstarter tiers was the chance to play as your cat, complete with fur color and name. Each cat will have different abilities, one may not jump as high as another, and another may be stronger and able to swat heavier items, little differences that add to the strategy of the game. Scattered throughout the levels are pictures of real life cats. These cats are the cats of some of the Kickstarter backers, and another one of the Kickstarter tiers is having a silly picture of your dog in the game, so the cat can knock it over, declaring cats’ superiority over dogs. These little touches personalize the game, adding to the charm of playing as a cat.
Since this game is in Early Access, it is a work in progress. Some things I’d like to see in the future would be more varied music, further polishing of both graphics and controls, and an achievement system with more cat puns. My ideal version of Catlateral Damage would be the New Nintendo 3DS, as this seems like the purr-fect game to play while on the go, but I am content with the current PC version.
As a cat lover, I am in love with this game. The controls are simple yet responsive, the concept is unique and fun, and with every update the game gets better and better. I can’t wait to play the final version of the game, and hopefully all the promised features will be ready at launch. If you want a game where you cause as much cat-tastrophe as you can, consider picking up Catlateral Damage.
Catlateral Damage is slated to release May 2015 on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux systems.