Video games have a long, storied history of allowing a person to step into the shoes of some of the worst people imaginable. Sometimes it’s by design, such as in the case of the psychopathic crime simulator Grand Theft Auto or in equally psychopathic archaeological crime simulator Uncharted. Sometimes it’s by choice, such as in Mass Effect where you can make the conscious decision to be a jerk. And sometimes it’s by complete accident, as in pretty much any game that doesn’t take into account the law of unintended consequences. For example, I’m certain that in the process of throwing all those fireballs around, Mario has probably caused a forest fire or two. Or even in something so completely oddball as Katamari Damacy, you’re basically dealing with someone being a jerk on a large scale by being one on a smaller scale.
Anyway. Catlateral Damage is just one more game where you play as the worst asshole possible. Only this time you are also a cat.
What?: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. You’re a kitten left alone in a house full of irresponsibly placed and highly breakable objects, and your goal is to knock them off of whatever they’re sitting on. And you have a time limit. Basically, if there were any better way to get into the mind of a psychopathic kitten, I haven’t found it yet.
Okay, but.. that’s all there is to it?: Well, the game is in early access, so it’s not anywhere close to being done yet. However, what’s there is pretty fun so far. It kind of reminds me of Katamari Damacy in the sense that everything has that low-polygon copy-paste vibe to it, except unlike Katamari Damacy, the levels are all randomly generated.
The list of features for the finished game include things like unlockable kittens to control, which, let’s face it, is all the reward I would ever need for completing challenges.
So how do you control your, er, kitten?: Simplistically. Right mouse button swipes with the right paw, and left mouse button swipes with the left paw. Middle mouse just pushes forward, and ‘F’ controls your little kitty chompers. Movement is typical PC ‘WASD+Space’.
During your rampage, you can collect power-ups by doing things that any normal cat would drop everything to do. These include scratching and biting at the scratching post, chowing down on kitty grass, and running through the cat tunnel. Randomly generated events can give you temporary boons or setbacks such as moon gravity or flashing and distracting disco lights.
Sounds pretty simple.: It is, but it’s also pretty cathartic. I mean, haven’t you always wished that you could just run through the room and completely wreck everyone’s shit when you got angry? Well, in Catlateral Damage, you can be the world’s biggest jerk, and no one can possibly call you out on it because you’re a cat. I mean, what do people expect of you, really? If a person leaves a cat alone in a house with shelves and breakable objects just sitting out there, it’s really that person’s own fault when they come home and everything is laid waste by Fluffy the Abyssal Kittenbeast.
So based on its early access build, do you think you would recommend this game?: Depends on how much it’s being sold for. I think it’s a $5 game. I don’t think it’s a $15 game, unless they add a whole lot more to it. However, if they really go nuts with it, it could be a contender for ‘most bizarre game with the simplest concept since Katamari Damacy‘. And really, half the fun is knowing that, as a cat owner, your own little fluff-bucket would do in real life exactly what you’re doing in the game, given half the chance.
What if I don’t like cats?: Well, then don’t play this game, and also you’re a monster.
[Disclaimer: This game is in early access, and the finished version may differ greatly from the version I reviewed. Also, the game was on Kickstarter, and I was a backer. I like cats. Deal with it.]