For those of you who checked out our EGX Rezzed 2018 coverage, you may remember this game catching our eye! Now we at Darkworld Gaming love a party game, especially if it’s frantic, chaotic and can cause shouting and general merriment. Catastronauts certainly fits into that category and we are fortunate enough to be able to share our thoughts with you (although a little later than planned).
Now we’ve (hopefully) all seen those episodes of shows set in space where the enemy ships fires photon torpedos that hit the ship and the crew frantically try to repair the damage while fighting off the enemy… well Catastronauts takes that concept and throws it into a game scenario whereby up to 4 crew will have to essentially do just that with each level increasing in difficulty (and craziness). There is no captain, there is no first mate and there certainly isn’t an engineer screaming that we’re giving it all she’s got. It’s chaos… but in a good way.
For those of you who have played other similar party games such as Overcooked for example, you may be able to approach Catasronauts in a similar fashion with each crew member being assigned a task such as being in charge of firing the weapons, putting out fires or repairing damage. This works in theory however this is not quite a simple as that after the first couple of warm up levels. Once you have played a few, things start to ramp up a little and you’ll quickly find yourself doing a bit of everything. Extra challenges are thrown in such as needing to charge batteries for the guns, bombs being teleported in and the dreaded issues surrounding getting too close to the Sun (you’ll see what I mean when you play) which mean you need to be able to turn your hand to anything and pretty quickly. I would say that Catastronauts keeps you on your toes rather than letting you find a rhythm and get comfortable which in many ways is a good thing if you’re in a group as you it presents a good challenge. If you are playing with a smaller group, while the challenge is still there, it is a little kinder allowing for the smaller crew (or just you on your own controlling two crew by yourself).
I would say that Catastronauts is most certainly a game that is best played in a group situation as the single player can feel a little bit lonely and difficult as you try and switch between characters. This has also been an issue with similar style titles but I can see that it might not entirely work having an AI character to help in a single player setting unless you can change the difficulty of the level or choose how helpful your crew mate could be. It’s a thought, but I’m not entirely sure how feasible or effective it would be to do this, however it is intended to be a casual co-op party game rather than a serious single player campaign.
The game runs on a star system however it’s not about points, it’s about taking down the alien ship as quickly as possible so it’s important to work together and ifficiently if you’re going to hit the all important three stars. This adds a little more of a challenge rating in my opinion as while you aren’t timed on your rounds, you need to prevent your ship from getting destroyed as well as taking down the enemy ship. Being on the ball and working together is important so if you see someone hasn’t got a fire extinguisher or needs their gun repaired, you’ll have to work together to fix the issue. It can involve a lot of shouting… especially if all hellfire breaks out and everyone is on fire. Luckily there are sometimes healing pads so you can heal yourself if you’ve had an accident and if you die, you can teleport in again to keep things going.
Graphically, the game follows a cartoon style with a couple of character options. Your ship layout is viewed from a top down perspective and is reminicent of the view in games such as Faster Than Light. I would certainly say this is a fun and cute looking game as far as the design goes and the level designs suit the style as well as the challenge they are presenting to the player. It’s clear when there’s fire, a hole to repair and when the guns are ready to fire. It’s just a case of keeping your eye on the whole ship rather than focussing on one area. The sound design also works well with all of the chaos going on around you with and can play a part in alerting you to some of the incoming madness be it lasers, bombs or alarms! The controls are also quite simple easy to pick up with prompts in the earlier levels to demonstrate how to fire, repair and put out fires which just adds to the enjoyment of the game and allows you to pick up and play without worrying about remembering the buttons.
Catastronauts is a fun party game and while there are a couple of bugs that can occassionally cause issues, these have been far and few between from our experience with the full games. While the solo aspect of the game is not easy, we would only really expect this title to be played with others in order to get the full enjoyment out of it. It easily joins the ranks of Overcooked, Mario Party titles and Black and White Bushido in our books and it can offer a good challenge and a few hours of fun for any group of friends who want to see if they can survive in space. Currently Catastronauts is out now on Steam and Xbox One for £12.39 and PS4 for £11.49 but this is most certainly one to look forward to on the Switch I feel as with many of these party games, being able to take the game out and about with you easily adds to the appeal so this is most certainly one to add to your Nindies list when it becomes available.
We would like to extend our thanks to Inertia Game Studios for the opportunity to review Catastronauts on PS4.