Game Review: Assault Android Cactus (PS4)

While the initial release of Assault Android Cactus on PC was back in September 2015 being fairly highly acclaimed, they’re now moving their twin-stick bullet hell shooter over to the console market. I’ve had a chance to play the PS4 version and hadn’t previously played the game on PC. Though it is a co-op title, I did my play-through of the game solo, and I’m sure the game is much more fun to play co-op.

To start out, if you’re like me and never played this yet, the story of the game is incredibly simple. You’re an intergalactic space cop, who is an android named Cactus, and you find a missing freighter. Upon being spotted the ship starts to fire at you and you crash into the ship to gain entry and, conveniently, save 3 of the android crew members. According to the crew, the robot workforce systems for the entire vessel have gone rogue and have started attacking all the humans and androids on the ship. At this point, it’s your job to take down the rogue robot leaders and reach the main robotic nexus and get it to take control of the robot force again. As I said, it’s a pretty straightforward plot and nothing that comes later is unexpected or unpredictable, but each character has it’s own sets of dialogue with bosses and their own personality. As you progress through the stages you also unlock new androids to play with different weapon types.

The tutorial gets you adjusted to some of the gameplay elements for moving, switching weapons, and what energy and power ups do. As you can imagine, most of it is straightforward again for a bullet hell twin-stick shooter, but it doesn’t really need to reinvent the wheel to be a fun game either. Each android has it’s own Primary and Special weapon unique to themselves that are pretty common if you’ve ever played one of these titles before. You’ve got your Assault Rifle, Tracking shot, Spreadshot, Shotgun, Laser, and so on for each character. Your specials vary from Flamethrowers to a Singularity Cannon and have a huge impact on gameplay as well. When enemies die you collect Energy which will power up your main weapon so it does more damage, has larger or more projectiles, or has more area of effect.  They also have a chance of dropping one of three power-ups, and Batteries. Powers include Acceleration for faster movement, Damage gives you two robots that shoot with you, and Shutdown which stuns all robot enemies for a brief period of time. Batteries are a core mechanic to this game though, as you have to collect them to keep your androids recharged. If you lose all of your battery power, the mission is over.

Enemies for the game have decent variety as well, and even enemies that look the same do different things as you progress through the stages until the end. Every mission has a different stage layout and even includes different moving obstacles or even traps that kill you. Ranging from the stages having moving floors or laser traps while riding a cargo train, you won’t be standing in the same place very often.

Each android can only be hit a few times, or once from a strong attack, and combining all the enemies, traps, and ways you can be hit together, you’ll die pretty often when you start out. This does present a lot of challenge at the very beginning and it does ramp up it’s difficulty as you progress through the game. Even after you finish the campaign mode they add in other play modes as well for some replay value and challenge. First one was Infinity Mode, where it seems that the game starts off and you just progress infinitely, including boss fights, until you run out of battery. There is also a daily drive mode where you compete in leader boards against the rest of the community on a level designed for that day to try and have the highest score by completing 10 Waves of enemies with a boss at the end.

The game is pretty well rounded and if you’re a fan of Bullet Hell or Twin Stick shooter titles, then this game is one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen. I personally don’t spend much time on these games and I lose interest easily, but I found the game fun and challenging from beginning of the campaign straight through to the end.

Tali’s PC Review is located here.

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