Assault Android Cactus Review

The first time I saw Assault Android Cactus was at PAXaus 2013 in Melbourne. Locally based (Brisbane), Witchbeam had bought their game to the audience via PAX’s awesome indie showcase. As soon as I started playing it I was instantly hooked, raving about the frantic shooter to anyone and everyone. The gameplay reminded me instantly of a past game that I had oodles of fun with, Smash TV. Ever since I have eagerly awaited the full game release as to see if my first impressions remained with the finished product.

For those who have not seen Assault Android Cactus, the game is an isometric twin stick arena shooter that allows up to four players locally. Unfortunately there is no online co-op available. Cactus is the stories hero, an android who is a junior constable in the Interplanetary Police Force. She is sent to investigate a space freighter and upon arrival is fired upon, instinctively she boards the ship to find that the crew has been taken hostage by the robot workers on board. It is up to Cactus and a host of newly found android allies to take back control of the freighter.

There are five levels in the campaign, each offering five stages and a huge robotic boss to defeat. The level design is great with arenas ranging from small rooms to lengthy corridors with some even forming below your feet as you move around. Most have various obstacles to hinder you further, and all have an astronomical amount of enemies to destroy. To say that the game play is frenetic is an understatement. The tension is always high and at times I had quite sweaty palms. Once the campaign is done with there are other game modes to challenge you and leader boards to top, giving the game plenty of life.

There are eight characters to play as, four initially with the remainder unlocked by defeating the first four bosses. Each has their own personality and weapon to use, along with a unique secondary weapon. The secondaries are quite powerful but does use a little more of your androids battery, which when fully depleted spells the end of your android and progression. The Battery is charged via pickups dropped by enemies, who also drop various power ups that keep things progressing rapidly. Your android also has a separate health bar which when depleted causes your android to power down. Rapidly tapping the fire button resurrects them but beware the longer you take to find a battery source the closer you get to defeat. Time is of the essence.

Visually the game is excellent. There are a massive variety of robot enemies and each are well details and pleasing to the eye, it’s likewise with the playable characters. The environments are also well crafted and when all are infused with vibrant colors the game looks good quite delicious. Animations are smooth and the frame rate never drops even though there can be a massive amount of enemies on screen at once. The use of sound is quite clever. The guns and explosions sound great, as do enemy robots but the androids themselves voices projecting through the PS4 controller’s speaker is a fantastic idea. The soundtrack itself adapts to your performance heightening the tension.

Twin stick shooters have been around a while now but Assault Android Cactus stands out from the crowd thanks to the vibrant graphics, excellent sound, overwhelming odds and brilliant level design. There is just so much value presented in this package, especially for such a low price point. I genuinely miss the fact that there is no online multiplayer. Playing alongside someone in the same room is a blast but not always achievable. However this is the only downside to a title that is impossible not to recommend.

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