I never thought a trip to Grandma’s house would mean the beginning of a great adventure, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. During developer Rose City Games’ upcoming twin-stick adventure game Cat Lady, players take on the role Ally Marie during a regular visit to her cat-loving Grandma’s house. We had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Steam Early Access version of the game to get an idea of just how pawsome this adventure will be. I promise that will be the only cat pun in this preview.
During the demo, the only context given was that Ally Marie has arrived at her Grandma’s house, who is missing, and now all her cats can talk. First thing’s first, Ally must venture through the basement to find her Grandma. However, along with the talking cats, lots of items in the basement have come alive. However, unlike the cats, these monsters are trying to kill you.
The levels in Cat Lady have a dungeon design where players must travel floor by floor until they get to the boss. Each time they visit the dungeon, the layout changes, which makes each playthrough unique. Interestingly, the cats aren’t only present in the game for amusement; they are also weapons. That’s right, each cat has a different ability, and there are primary and secondary cats available to equip. While each cat offered a new way to take down enemies, they weren’t all equal. It takes some experimenting to figure out which combination of weapons works for you.
For example, one cat fires like a machine gun, but the max damage is lower than other weapons. Alternatively, there’s a homing weapon that shoots slower but is extremely useful. Luckily, players are also able to purchase and find upgrades to make weapons stronger, shoot farther and faster. On a good run, you’ll find each of these upgrades and fly through the levels. On the other hand, the run can go completely wrong, and you’ll be tiptoeing around danger at every moment in search of health. Sometimes with enough upgrades, you can even cheese through difficult boss battles.
The map layout can get somewhat repetitive, especially when you play a level multiple times. We want to wait until the game releases to see how many different themed dungeons players can explore. Furthermore, the camera has a tough time keeping up with Ally’s movements. While in a dungeon, it’s possible to make your way to the upper screen and get hurt by an unseen enemy as the camera catches up with your movement. For a twin-stick shooter, getting the camera movement down is crucial. Additionally, there were times when I would be spawned on top of an enemy when entering a new floor.
Cat Lady is not an easy game. That said, the game loop makes it tough to put down, especially after dying because you know you can do better. The upgrades make it easier, but the enemies in the later levels don’t mess around. They’ll launch gas and projectiles from every which way, forcing the player to stay on their feet the entire time. I enjoyed this part about the game as it forced me to consider which weapons and upgrades were necessary to survive.
Cat Lady is shaping up to be as challenging as it is adorable. You’ll walk in thinking only about how cute everything is, but slowly you begin to detest these cute little enemies and want nothing more than to kill them with your feline friends. It’s visual presentation and cats are what drew us in, but we’re staying to show these creatures what’s up. I can’t wait to see how Cat Lady evolves since it already has an addictive foundation.
Cat Lady is coming to Steam Early Access on October 17.
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