If you tell me the premise for your game is a tiny cat in a mech suit, then I am instantly sold. Luckily, Gato Roboto is exactly that, a nice little Metroidvania which is a short, but an extremely fun game from Doinksoft and Devolver Digital.
Metroidvanias have been made very popular over the last few years and Gato Roboto is a nice addition to that collection. We start out on a ship with its captain talking to mission command and he’s accompanied by his tiny cat. As we fly over an alien planet something suddenly happens to cause the ship to fail, and we have to crash land on the planet. Unfortunately, the Captain has been taken out and can’t move, so he asks his tiny cat to jump into a mech suit and get help.
It’s a simple premise and introduces us to our main protagonist as well as one of the main mechanics in the game. The fact you’re a little cat who can jump in and out of mech suits (and other vehicles later in the game) allows the game to present itself to you puzzles and battle sequences in different forms. Our little cat friend can get into gaps that the mech suit cannot, allowing you to traverse the landscape and get into nooks and crannies that would otherwise be unavailable.
There’s a decent amount of humour in the game too, with the captain telling himself off for talking to a cat in the first place. The captain acts as narrator to the story, giving the cat advice on where to go and what to do, as well as offering up funny moments of dialogue. He gets frustrated as he’s never sure the cat is listening, as he can only answer with a simple ‘Meow’.
The movement in the game feels fluid, fast and solid too. As the tiny cat, you can run, jump and swim. You can clamber up walls and get into small spaces, as cats often find themselves doing. Getting into a mech suit changes your abilities and crucially your arsenal with a standard blaster at the start followed by upgrades like rockets later on.
There’s standard Metroidvania fair with an opening map, with rooms and secrets yet to be discovered that open up once you get new abilities through exploration. There are vendors in the game too where you can buy upgrades, and again there are funny moments woven into these encounters. When you first meet one of the vendors who’s a frog in a mech suit, he comments on our kitty friend but then stating “I’m one to talk right?” when referring to what an odd scene this is.
The thing that sets this game apart from others is the switching between modes and the contrast between styles when you’re simply the cat running and exploring, compared to when you’re in the mech suit. The puzzles and level design are complimenting through this design choice, as you can get only so far in either mode. As a Mech cat you can blast your way through walls with rockets, but touch some water and you’ll take damage. Jump out of the suit and you’ll run around with speed and freedom, leaving your mech suit where it is so you can pick it up later on. Quickly run through a small gap, solve a puzzle and get back to the suit to continue through you’re journey.
There are save points dotted around the maps, and these restore health and provide you mechs as you go. You only have a few hit points, so it’s best to avoid or destroy the enemies as they get closer. There’s a variety of enemies and environments, like squid swimming through the area and alien-like pods that eject bugs that fly and try to attack you.
The graphics and audio are very retro with a monochrome and pixel art style and music that could have come out of the ’80s. The game may feel retro, but it’s certainly not lacking in detail with environments full to the brim with a character from the talking computers, checks ins with the captain and the underground facilities. There’s a really nice feel to the game, making it a joy to play with speed and it’ll keep you thinking about the game long after you put the controller down.
Gato Roboto also has some very good boss battles, first of which includes a battle against a lifelong opponent of a mouse, with an even bigger mech suit than our cat has. The boss battles have a few phases and change up the mechanics of the fight, which have you bouncing around the screen and using your full arsenal of abilities in an effort to take them down. The game itself isn’t too hard, but it’ll provide enough of a challenge to keep you entertained and engaged.
It’s a very well put together package that had me engaged from the start to the finish. It’s not a very long game, it’s somewhere in the region of 2-3 hours for a full playthrough, but there’s plenty of secrets to find and you’re unlikely to find everything on your first playthrough. It can feel a little familiar, but the polish on the game as a whole package is undeniable making Gato Roboto a worthwhile purchase that’ll provide you with a great gaming experience.
Platforms: PC, Switch, Xbox Game Pass
Release Date: May 30th 2019
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