Catlateral Damage PS4 Review
Perfect party game
Plenty of variety
Mostly satisfying destruction and level design
Nicely designed environments
Relies on user’s sarcasm too heavily
Weak gameplay loop
Underwhelming level of destruction
No local multiplayer
Nauseating fisheye effect
Catlateral Damage is a lean cut of silly fun with only a hint of cynicism. Developed for Mac OS, Ouya, and Linux by Fire Hose Games and now available on PS4, this first-person sandbox destruction game delivers a good bit of fun in short bursts but dives far too deep into the world of memes for me to follow for long. Its excellent level variety does go a ways toward keeping the repetitive gameplay loop fresh but its premise doesn’t follow suit, ensuring the game never mechanically surpasses mundane. While a worthy addition to your PS4 party playlist, you have trouble finding much reason to pick it up once the booze have been put away.
You play as a kitty cat left to his own devices whose mission it becomes to teach its humans a lesson by making a mess of the house. Right. Each level has players climbing shelves, raiding fridges, unraveling toilet paper, and swinging paws away to rack up just enough household destruction before 3-12 minute timer’s up. Disappointingly, the destruction is limited to knocking items onto the floor. Few items like dishes and vases actually shatter and most items just give a soft “thud” when they hit the ground. Luckily, developers seem to know what players find most satisfying, i.e. knocking a ton of items over at a time, and so there aren’t many finicky objects to deal with. Objects exhibit similar properties and never vary in simulated weight, meaning dishes feel almost the same to knock over as a flat-screen TVs do. Shelves packed with books and dishes crumble in a great way and the neatly arranged aisles of the supermarket level are a blast to sprint through, but, again, it all lacks the cathartic impact sought from destruction sand-boxes
Levels feature some interactive objects that award players with stat and skill boosts, like maximum jump, maximum paw, and even a catnip that can boost your speed or give you a mighty force field, to catalyze the destruction process. A slight bit of strategy can in fact go into meeting your deadlines. For example, it may be more worth your time to snub the single giant pillow resting on the bed in favor or a shelf of neatly aligned books. It isn’t quite X-COM, but at least the ground rules present some form of challenge.
Despite its repetitive gameplay loop, CD does all it can to keep things fresh. Environments are nicely varied, including a cabin stage, multiple different suburban houses, a supermarket, and more, all of which feature their own layout and color scheme. Each stage has its own quota and time limit to vary gameplay. Some even feature scavenger hunt-like bonuses for knocking x-number of an object to the floor and a number of timed events like “kill the mouse” and “power outage.” Furthermore, players have a pretty large roster of unlockable cats to choose from, each of which, despite similarities in performance, at least get their own unique sequence of campaign missions.
Here is a stream of our other editor, Grizz, playing through some Catlateral Damage:
If only the game’s destruction brought more of a crunch via its sound production and visuals or were more over-the-top in its settings – maybe a zero-gravity space environment or a room with reverse gravity, I might turn my favor. The game’s soundtrack is surprisingly inoffensive. Going in, I could’ve sworn I was in for corny jazz fusion – I’m looking at you Miko Mole – but was instead treated to notably soothing electronic keyboard tunes with a nice pop to them. CD features a sort-of half cel-shaded aesthetic that’s colorful and at leasts gets the job done. I was really impressed with the variety of object models featured in-game. There are plenty of plain dishes, books, and papers to deal with but a few robot toys, monster plushies, and video game controllers successfully kept the world from feeling too sterile.
To my surprise, in-game options feature an adjustable FOV slider. This is probably my first console title to features one and possibly my last but I must say I really appreciated its inclusion. The game’s camera features a subtle fisheye that did make me feel somewhat uneasy while jumping and especially while using the catnip powerups. While some FOV settings exaggerated the fisheye even more, a little messing around was all it took for me to be able to play comfortably.
Gather up a few friends for a drink and a laugh and CD shines. Really, I urge developers to patch in a split-screen, local multiplayer mode. Get into the right headspace and suddenly CD can seem like the “greatest game ever.” *Ahem* It might just be me, but I really believe that this is what developers were going for. Give us a humdrum but meme-able premise in a competent package and we’ll find a way to enjoy ourselves. In a way, developers might’ve hit their mark just right.
Let’s face it, for most players Catlateral Damage won’t have a long shelf life and neither does it deserve one. I could only keep up the sarcasm for an hour or two at a time before I began to question my choices in life. It’s decently put together, doesn’t have any performance issues, and, honestly, would find a loving home in almost anyone’s party playlist. But, for all its effort, it’s $9.99 price-tag seems even heftier every time I consider how far $10 can get you. Consider waiting for a discount if not passing or going in on it with a few friends for a get-together.