Devolver Digital just can’t lose as of late when it comes to independent darlings. But then again, that’s always been its forte, hasn’t it? If it’s not Serious Sam, it’s Shadow Warrior. And if it’s not Shadow Warrior, it’s Enter the Gungeon. And lately, it’s hitting the bullseye with titles like Katana Zero and the forthcoming My Friend Pedro, which looks, ahem, bananas. But then there’s Gato Roboto, which appears to be a Metroidvania style game with a cat. And there, friends, you just can’t lose. Because a. it appeals to cat lovers, and b. it has a damn robot. Not to mention c. Metroidvania is a thing now.
In the game, you have this cat basically becoming the hero we all need when his master becomes trapped in a ship. He ventures out into a mysterious black and white world filled with danger, equipped with a robot that evolves with new abilities as he goes along. But one interesting aspect is that he can hop outside the suit as he needs to, sometimes to go into areas that can’t be reached in a big, bulky outfit. It’s a neat ability, though it does leave him vulnerable in some areas. That’s the thing about being a cat, though it does also show how damn adorable he is.
This shows the true innovation of Gato Roboto’s gameplay. Puzzle solving goes a little deeper than expected here, though the boss battles are pretty straightforward – though still a lot of fun. There’s also some cool stuff when it comes to exploration and even finding some cool goodies. And, of course, there’s some fun little moments of humor throughout. And the difficulty balance is just about right. There are times the bosses can be a bit strenuous, but once you figure things out, you go “AHA!” and then can move on to the next thing, without losing your mind too much.
While the basic black and white design doesn’t inspire as much as, say, the 8 and 16-bit visual design of The Messenger, I still like it. It harkens back to Devolver Digital’s own Downwell, and the animations are kind of neat. That, and the levels are inspired, like the 8-bit Game Boy Metroids of old. And I really, really, really like the soundtrack and sound effects. They match up perfectly with what’s happening within the game.
That said…I do wish the game was longer. I was able to find everything that Gato Roboto had to offer within about five or so hours. Had the game extended itself along the length of, say, Axiom Verge or even Chasm, we’d be getting somewhere. But it seems to be built for the younger set or, dare I say it, the cat lovers that just want to feel like loving something for a few precious hours.
That’s not to say it’s time wasted, mind you. Gato Roboto is a fun experience while it lasts, and its gameplay and presentation are truly rewarding. And the game does have some humorous moments that are sure to make you smile. I just wish it had a deeper adventure to really dig into, or, at the very least, a New Game + with a dog that made it a little more difficult to control your robot. (Sorry, that is not a dig on dog lovers – but maybe it gives the developers an idea for a sequel…?). 3.5/5 Cat Toys.