Last November I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Van Dyck from Witch Beam Games at Pax Australia. The team had a small stand setup in the Indie games area and were showcasing their recently released title Assault Android Cactus (AAC). My first impression of the game was that it reminded me a little of Resogun, being a twin-stick shooter. Jeff went on to explain that other influences for the game were Robotron and Super Smash TV (arcade classics). After checking out the two he mentioned I can see where the inspiration has come from.
Ahead of the games release for PS4 and VITA on March 8, I thought it was appropriate to have a go of the manic shooter and cast my opinion out to aid JG fans with their decision to play … or not to play.
Each level begins by your selected character landing on a small platform area. There’s no time to take in the scenery or plan out much of a strategy, because mere seconds after your feet touch the floor, enemies begin to flood through. From that point until the end of the level you’ll be using your left analogue stick to navigate between enemies and the environment, while constantly pointing your right stick in the direction of anything that moves. The game moves at a breakneck speed and demands agility and coordination, along with constant movement to achieve success. Perhaps one of the greatest things about AAC is the scoring for levels. In a similar fashion to how Devil May Cry gives you a style score at the conclusion of each level, AAC also scores your efforts. This means that despite the game not having a difficulty setting, players of all skill levels can work their way through the story and return to challenge themselves further … should they be so inclined.
The game rewards success handsomely, fallen enemies randomly drop weapon modifiers which can either increase the rate of fire or enable your character to move faster for a period of time. In addition to picking up modifiers you’ll also need to keep a look out for batteries. Witch Beam have incorporated an interesting twist on the health system for this game, instead of having a health bar depleting, you drain power. Using your weapon and getting up when you’re knocked down both drain the precious resource. This means that provided your shooting isn’t terribly inaccurate and you can use the left-trigger to dodge attacks you’ll have more than enough juice to lay waste to everything, while topping up your reserve with batteries that randomly drop throughout the levels. Should you not pick up a battery you’ll power down and the level ends … there’s no checkpoints in the middle of a level, so you’ll need to restart from the beginning. Not a huge concern as each of the levels are quite quick. In fact the whole game is a short affair, it took me a little over three hours to roll the credits. This isn’t a bad thing though, the game moves quickly and because each of the levels have a play time of around 3-7 minutes it’s absolutely perfect for the VITA and the time constraints that players might have in transit with the handheld.
Although I didn’t get a chance to checkout the co-op features this game offers, I’m confident a 2-4 player couch session wouldn’t disappointment. My mind’s already buzzing with fun drinking games which could be incorporated…
With a short, yet satisfying campaign, tons of re-playability in the form of style scoring, up to 4 player local co-op and beautiful visual and audio design … you really can’t go wrong with this game and there’s little to fault. I thoroughly enjoyed the short romp with Witch Beams first title and I can’t wait to see what they produce next.
Assault Android Cactus is out now on PC and will be available on PS4 and VITA on March 8. This review was completed on PC.