Catmaze is much more of a Metroid-like as opposed to Castlevania since you do not gain experience points with each kill. There is a large, interconnected map that progressively becomes fully explorable as the playable witch gains new abilities but there are few elements that hold back the experience.
A highlight is the story and dialog with NPCs. Based around Slavic mythology, this witch has plenty of optional side missions along with the main “go find the cats” mission objective. Although there are not as many secrets as in Nintendo’s popular franchise, players are rewarded for breaking down an occasional wall or jumping into that well to find some stat enhancing items.
The fantasy setting is appreciated as the player will venture through plenty of forest areas, caves, and other mystical environments throughout the 10-hour campaign. The map is rather expansive, unexpectantly so, and takes time to venture from other side to the other. Unfortunately, fast travel and save stations are spread too far apart, my main gripe. About a third of the way into the quest, I ran into a sharp difficulty spike as I encountered these shadow glob enemies that cheaply attack as they vertically spawn from the ground without warning. After inching my way through, I died yet again, forcing a full restart at the last checkpoint. I was only after to withstand a couple of these “I just lost 15 minutes of progress” deaths before rage quitting for a few days.
At least the map provides some direction on where to go as it uses similar icons of Metroid. It never indicates a specific path, so the open-ended nature of exploration might be frustrating to some, but others might like it. I would often get lost and frustrated on where to go next (remember to push those springboard mushrooms) but then figure it out after wandering for twenty minutes. It is satisfying to finally figure out where to go or when you grab that progression item, it just might take you a while.
Visually, the game is composed of this purposely designed low-res look. While this different and simple approach is appreciated, it does fall a bit flat in parts. Some animations, for example, are choppy at best and sometimes the foreground looks like it should be non-interactive background elements and vice versa. The sound effects, like the random cat meowing, can get annoying during the ten minute backtrack to the drop off point. The chime effect when you grab the white puffs also gets annoying rather quickly.
Catmaze is a low cost, budget Metroid-like that takes one step forward but then one step back. It isn’t great, it isn’t terrible and still entire playable, but there are better options for same cost.
Not As Good As: Trash Quest
Also Play: Cosmos Bit
Don’t Forget About: Momodora
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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