Monday, January 7, 2019

Review: Catastronauts! [Nintendo Switch eShop]


There’s no doubt that in the space of local co-op play Overcooked has been quite a success, and for good reason. Take somewhat simple individual tasks, throw in periodic twists, add pressure, and see if you and perhaps some of your friends can take the pressure. Coming from a slightly different direction you have the infamous FTL from the PC space, a single-player roguelike set in space that’s not nearly as fancy but has many of the same principles. Catastronauts is really like the lovechild of both of those titles, taking the setting (and, to a degree, the difficulty) of FTL and marrying it with a more refined look and feel akin to Overcooked.


So how well does it work? Depending on the experience you’re looking for and whether you have other people available to play with your results will vary. Starting with single-player I would say that in many ways it can be like FTL, namely quite difficult once you get in more than a few levels. Similar to Overcooked, in single-player you’ll get to alternate between two crew members and try to keep the ship from blowing up (while trying to shoot back when you can) by repairing damage, disposing of bombs that will be teleported into your ship, and putting out fires… literally. There’s no getting around it, this can prove both challenging and aggravating but if you enjoy a challenge of both strategy and skill it may be appealing. Positioning your people and critical resources like your extinguisher and repair kit in smart spots where they’re available when you need them is essential to success, but even with good planning failure is always an option.


In multiplayer it’s a very different experience, and not quite as challenging overall, but it will still test your skills, patience, and your ability to communicate. I’d recommend one person in your team being the person who tries to stay focused on firing on the enemy and keeping your guns is good repair since to win you just need to blow up the other ship and the longer you play the more likely they’ll finally manage to overwhelm you. It would be tempting to play a sort of zone defense but that’s not as good a guarantee as you’d think, what will seem like your priority can switch very quickly and one person may inherit a very bad hand suddenly, meaning other people will need to help.


While there are similarities here to Overcooked, Catastronauts is very much its own distinct experience and will require your full attention to be successful. Rather than being so many distinct tasks you need to complete in sequence and looking to optimize performing those tasks Catastronauts focuses on setting mayhem into motion and forcing you to adapt. Smart positioning, keeping your critical tools close at hand, and transitioning quickly between working on offense and then keeping your ship in one piece are the keys to success. While the pressure of the experience may not be for everyone it makes for a thrilling and unique challenge.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • Challenging gameplay that’s a mix of strategy, adaptation, and a fair amount of luck
  • The dynamics of gameplay change for each additional person you’re able to play with
  • Less repetition-focused than Overcooked, instead requiring you to adapt to the situation

Cons:
  • Single-player is viable but there’s no doubt it can be aggravating
  • While engaging, there’s not a ton of content overall