Catlateral Damage Review – Are You Kitten Me? (PS4)
Boy, oh boy, does the internet love cats. From adorable videos of Siamese kittens meowing to perfect pictures of napping Scottish folds, the internet is just full of cat media to consume. Perhaps that’s why, back in 2014, Chris Chung’s Catlateral Damage had no trouble raising $61,944 on Kickstarter. Beyond the basic attraction of just playing as a feline, Chung’s game also offers the “cat-thartic” appeal of destroying an entire household — something that all of us, for one reason or another, have probably felt like doing at some point in our lives. In that way, it holds much the same appeal as the “Simulator” games currently flooding Steam; and while it is a simple affair that lacks depth, its also clearly had a great deal of care put into it.
As I said before, Catlateral Damage is basically about one thing: knocking stuff over. Through both the mission-based Objective Mode and free-for-all Litterbox Mode, your main goal is to traverse the location you’re currently in and send as much stuff tumbling to the floor as possible. You do this by using L1 and L2 and R1 and R2 to push and swipe with your cat’s left and right paws, respectively. Along your path of wanton destruction, you’ll unlock new cats to play as and special cat photos, both of which were rewards earned by backers of the original campaign. There’s quite a lot to unlock, including a number of varied trophies adding up to the adorably-named “Pawlatinum.”
Knock S*** Over, Rinse and Repeat
But while you can earn a lot of bonuses knocking things over, the actual act of doing so is rather limited in its appeal — at least it will be for those looking for some longevity. The fact of the matter is, you can really only spend so long jumping around and swiping before it all starts to get kind of same-y and dull. While the appearances of the locations might change, there’s nothing in the way of strategic variation from stage to stage — the placement of objects, the amount of time you’re given and the score required to win are the only real ways the game changes it up. Because of this, it seems the game is best enjoyed in short bursts, which might have been better suited for a handheld or mobile title than a full console release. Still, it’s easy to see just how much love and care went into the project, from the myriad unlockables to the weird and wonderful object collections (my personal favorite thing to knock over is the giant set of dinosaur bones in the museum level) — so it’s hard to be really critical about the repetition, even if it is the biggest issue at hand here. I can see a number of players getting laughs and enjoyment out of their experiences here, which is a lot more than you can say for some of the other cynical “Simulator” titles out there.
Yes, There’s a “Pawse” Menu
Presentation-wise, Catlateral Damage isn’t going to wow anybody with its “big picture” — the pleasure is pretty much all in the little details. For one thing, the models of both the cats and the objects around the different locations are pretty primitive and simple, although this is more easily forgiven when you consider the limited resources of its indie origins. On the plus side, they do sport a nice pastel, cel-shaded look that makes them a bit more palatable, and I certainly appreciated the rainbow of colors making up the objects. The music, on the other hand, I could have done without: these generic, plonking Muzak-esque tunes really started to grate on my nerves after a while, and the fact that they’re such short, repetitive loops doesn’t help matters in the slightest. But as I said, the delight is all in the little details here: reading off all the delightful cat puns, such as in the “Pawse Menu;” using the meow button to send forth a cascade of tiny mewlings; and, of course, the cursor in the middle of the screen that takes the shape of a cat nose and whiskers. A-freaking-dorable.
Expect the Adorable
“Adorable” is about the biggest compliment I can give to Catlateral Damage as a whole. As a cat lover, I relished the chance to vicariously experience the destruction they cause, only to find that knocking things over ad nauseum wasn’t all I thought it would be. In any case, there are plenty of laughs and smiles to be had if you’re of a mind to enjoy this silly “Simulator” stuff, and creator Chris Chung has seen fit to stuff the game with a plethora of cutesy collectibles (including a surprise “Pawlatinum!”). Go in with modest expectations and a lighthearted attitude and you’ll be sure to have a good time.
Catlateral Damage review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.