Reviewed on: PS4. Copy supplied by publisher.
There are hundreds of thousands of rogue robots filling a space station with their murderous rage. Who are you going to call? If you answered “a rag tag group of android chicks to smash the robots with their arsenal of kickass weaponry,” you were somehow completely right.
Assault Android Cactus is a twin stick arcade shooter made by Australian developers Witch Beam. The game saw success when it was released for PC back in September 23 2015, something which I don’t think will change for its Ps4 debut. To put it simply, Assault Android Cactus is probably the most fun you’ll have playing an arcade game on the PlayStation 4. Putting you in control of one of the lively cast of nine playable androids, Assault Android Cactus is fast, loud and most of all additive. Once you get into the swing of slaying hordes of robots, you won’t be able to put this game down.
The premise is simple, there’s a ship called the Genki Star, which has been taken over by the AI that should be maintaining it. A distress signal on the ship alerts a maverick Interplanetary Police android known as Cactus, who lands on the ship and helps the remaining android crew rage against the machines.
To attack the ravenous machines you have use of a primary and secondary weapon. Each android has different combinations at their disposal, and they are all very much unique. For example, the main android Cactus has a machine gun and a flame thrower, and my personal favourite Starch has a laser and micro missiles. The primary is your basic weapon for cutting through enemy hordes and the secondary is your go to weapon for dealing mass amounts of damage. The secondary of course has a cool down time, which is just another aspect to keep an eye on amongst the neon flurry of explosions and lasers on screen. There are also certain buffs that aid you in your fight, such as weapon boosters that provide additional fire power, a speed boost and an effect that temporarily freezes all the robots on screen.
Often in Assault Android Cactus the basic enemies will physically overwhelm you with numbers, which means you need to desperately find room to move and shoot. You need to act fast and decisively to find a path that will allow you to keep fighting for a few more precious seconds. But why are those seconds so precious? Well, as an android you run on battery, a commodity that diminishes fast in a fight. If your battery expires, you lose. To get more battery you need to keep desperately cutting through the enemy hoping that one might drop some precious juice.
Playing Assault Android Cactus is as much about managing battery as it is about smashing technology. Timing is everything and just one wrong move can severely punish you. Fortunately the controls are extremely simple, R1 and R2 are fire primary, L1 and L2 are fire secondary, left joystick is move and right joystick is aim, that’s it. But don’t let that fool you, this game delivers for variety and is challenging enough to keep you wanting to play long after the credits have rolled. Trying out each unique android alone will keep you occupied for hours.
The types of enemies you face are numerous and change how you need to approach a fight. All up there are 24 types, not including the six bosses. Some are simply upgraded versions of robots you find in earlier levels, but others have unique powers that will ruin your day, such as the Fetchers, which will zap you and restrict movement. This isn’t fun if you’re madly dashing across a level trying to grab a battery as your life drains away.
The bosses, or Section Lords as they are known in Assault Android Cactus, can be straight up sadistic and make you want to persevere until they are beaten. They each have a personality and dialogue that changes depending on the android you are playing as. It’s touches like this that make Assault Android Cactus stick in your mind. There is so much attention to detail at every turn, something which seems to be lacking in a lot of games nowadays, and is especially welcome in a game priced at AU$21.95.
Once you’ve completed the game there is more than enough on offer to keep you engrossed. There’s an Infinity Drive mode, which is a survival gauntlet, a Daily Drive mode, which is filled with community challenges, and a Boss Rush mode, which takes you through each boss fight successively.
There is also rich lore in Assault Android Cactus that can be read about in the Codex, this includes character bios and information about the universe you’re playing in. Some of the info needs to be bought with the credits you earn from playing the game. Credits can also be used to buy cheats, known as Ex Options. The Ex Options include a “Normal Sized Head Mode” where you “subject the androids to the indignity of human proportions,” and a Psychedelic Visual Filter, which makes for an interesting experience if you fancy tripping balls whilst playing.
The real beauty of Assault Android Cactus is its co-op nature, you can play with up to four people or with AI through an Ex Option. Sure it’s fun alone, but it’s really one of those games best experienced with others. I played with LoadScreen’s secret slave (e.g. the guy who does all our behind the scenes tech stuff that I won’t pretend to understand). We finished the game together in a night, and when I say night I mean you probably could have slept the entire duration of our play time and woke up refreshed, we just couldn’t put it down. The final level took us nearly two and a half hours, but not once did either of us say it was irritating to repeat the section. It’s a hard game, but it’s not “I want to break my controller” hard.
To top off all the flashing laser filled fun, Assault Android Cactus has an amazing soundtrack that perfectly accentuates the energy and style of gameplay. It’s fast, grimy and wouldn’t be out of place at a 90s rave, but it’s perfectly at home here.
Assault Android Cactus is about as much fun as you can have with an arcade game on the PS4. The attention to detail and addictive gameplay makes for a memorable and exciting addition to anyone’s indie library. This is a must for those looking for an affordable game to keep them entertained well into the future.
Pros: Fast, fun and addictive gameplay. Fantastic soundtrack. Great with friends or alone. Plenty of attention to detail. Enough to keep you going and plenty on offer for the price.
Cons: Too addictive.