Review: Assault Android Cactus
Assault Android Cactus – the first game released by Witch Beam – at its core is a twin stick shooter with a splash of bullet hell. Digging a bit deeper will uncover an impressive amount of depth, 9 playable characters that all bring very different play-styles to the table, plenty of cool unlockables, and a frame-rate that consistently hits 60FPS.
The story begins with Cactus responding to the distress call of a space freighter. Upon arrival it becomes evident that the worker robots have gone rogue and it’ll be up to Cactus to bring things under control. Along the way Cactus will meet other androids willing to lend a hand that offer up their own wildly different weapon expertise. The story here is simple and works totally fine as a backdrop to the gameplay, though I have to admit that the voice work done for each android left me really impressed. It’s also a nice touch to see each android have their own lines depending on who you take into battle.
Instead of limiting you to a set number of lives the game revolves around a depleting battery. When the battery is completely drained it’s game over – simple as that. To keep that from happening you’ll need to deal out as much damage as possible to cause battery charges to drop. Unlike other twin stick shooters it is absolutely necessary to go on the offensive and to sometimes take risks. Time is not on your side and that absolutely works in this game’s favor. I love how hectic stages can become as I’m flying around large hordes of robots and launching rockets in every direction. It’s both fun and extremely rewarding to come out of a tight situation unharmed.
What’s also interesting is that dying isn’t the end of the world. It could easily hurt your current run, but until you’ve mastered the game death is expected. What’s key is realizing that death resets your weapon power, trashes any of your current power ups, and ultimately costs you a few precious seconds. Can you go on to beat a stage after a death? Absolutely, but it’ll dramatically impact your final grade. What’s also interesting is that taking damage isn’t inherently a bad thing. As long as you can take the hit it might actually be worth putting yourself in the line of fire just to dish out some extra damage.
All of this works thanks to great controls and 9 playable characters that all bring something new to the table. It’s fun to learn how each character plays and also quite rewarding to figure out which character works best in specific situations. For instance Coral’s secondary is a plasma field that works wonders as a method of crowd control, while Holly’s primary weapon ‘seeker’ works great for hordes of wasp enemies.
PSN games running on Unity recently have had their fair share of issues. Assault Android Cactus is the exception. The game consistently sticks to 60FPS, loading times are extremely short, and I never ran into any sort of bug. This is straight up one of the most polished games I’ve played so far this year.
Completing the campaign in single player is fun enough as it is, but there’s still plenty of depth and other modes to dig into afterwards. Earning S+ ranks on every stage and game mode alone will take a decent chunk of time, but mastering each character’s play-style is absolutely worth it. This is easily one of the best twin stick shooters I’ve played in years.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Great roster of characters to choose from, each of which with their own unique weapon set
- Lots of depth to the battery mechanic
- Smooth frame rate
- Lots of cool unlockables (first person mode, isometric, etc.)