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Game Info:

Catlateral Damage 
Developed by: Chris Chung, Fire Hose Games
Published by: Chris Chung
Released: May 27, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Ouya
Genre: Simulation, 3D Platformer
Number of players: 1
Price: $9.99

Thank you, Snowrunner Productions, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a cat? Even if you haven't, "Catlateral Damage" is the best cat simulator that I have ever played.

All right, it's the only cat simulator I've ever played. So that's not saying much.

The game is played from a first-person perspective. You control a cat as he (or she) goes through a small home of your owner. Your objective is to knock everything onto the floor in retaliation for such horrific crimes as “bland cat food” or “feeling bored.” There are two modes to do this in - “Objective mode” is score-based, and you have to achieve a set score before the time expires, and “Litterbox mode” allows you to destroy to your heart's content without having to worry about the time limit. Jumping into your cardboard box (which is only open once the objective is met, for objective mode) will take you to the next house to destroy.

The controls work well enough with the keyboard and mouse. The WASD keys steer the cat you selected from the menu, and you use your mouse or trackpad to look around. Left- or right-clicking the mouse will make the cat sweep it's left or right paw respectively. Crouching is done with the “C” key, and to meow or pick up objects press the F key. The game offers controller support, but my controller didn't want to respond to button presses. Considering how my game controller doesn't have a secondary joystick, this didn't surprise me too much – being able to look around – especially up – is crucial for trying to jump to the highest parts of the house. But the keyboard and mouse setup works perfectly for navigating through the house and knocking things around.

Catlateral Damage
Highlights:

Strong Points: Nonsensical fun; intuitive controls
Weak Points: Primitive graphics; repetitive gameplay
Moral Warnings: Nothing is safe from your kitty paws! Some minor language issues

Certain events will occur as you weave your path of destruction, too. For example, you may have to destroy the laser pointer or wrestle with moon-like gravity. Short lived power-ups such as catnip or fast forward also appear. Your cat also has three statistics – jump, speed and swat – and playing with cat toys, eating house plants and unwinding toilet paper can provide opportunities to increase these. 

The graphics appear to be from the mid '90s, akin to what might be found for the original PlayStation or the Nintendo 64. Most of the sound effects sound like they predate that, though, with “bleeps” and “bloops” reminiscent of the mid-80s. The exceptions to these are the photos of cats that appear in the game – which I believe are from those who helped to fund and design the game – and the realistic “meows” from pressing the “meow” button. Music in the game is sparse, typically emanating from certain objects, like televisions. Sometimes the music seems to emanate from random spaces in the house, too.

Although the premise is simplistic and can be fun, the game can get dull after a while. The life of a cat isn't quite as exciting as it may seem. While there is some satisfaction with climbing to the highest shelf and shoving a stack of plates onto the floor, it gets a bit repetitive. There are two levels that can be unlocked during the course of the gameplay. The “supermarkat” has a different goal in that you have a shopping list of specific things to find and knock over, and the “mewseum” has a goal of doing a set dollar amount of damage to the artifacts found within. But most of the gameplay will take place in the randomly-generated houses themselves.

The reference to the “mewseum” and “supermarkat” are actually from the game, which is littered with cat puns. Even the “pawse” menu is not immune. The game tends to have an entirely tongue-in-cheek approach to the game, and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Catlateral Damage
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

It is impressive the amount of objects you can interact with. The only exception seems to be larger pieces of furniture and appliances, such as ovens and sofas. And of those appliances or furnishings that have doors, these can be opened and the contents removed (there's usually lots of frozen meats in the freezer – and a robot, for some reason). You also can open the taps on the sinks and the shower as well. Your cat doesn't react to being under the spray of water, however, and there doesn't seem to be a way to block the drain and flood the house, either. Personally, I was a bit disappointed with that little discovery. That would have been an impressive way to cause destruction!

However, the game still has a few bugs. At one time, after obtaining the “force field” power-up (which forces objects away from you) I heard the sound effect indicating another event had started – but I never found out what because my system locked up completely. In another instance, after maxing out my skills (which nets you an achievement), I was somehow able to jump outside of the walls of the house and fall endlessly through the white skybox until I brought up the menu and quit the level. Fortunately, I had completed all the objectives I was after that time. Bugs like this tend to be rare, but they do exist. 

There isn't a whole lot to be worried about from a moral perspective, as could be expected from a game of this nature. But there are a few minor language issues. One of the fake games that can be found has the title “Businessman Bullet H*ll.” Also, one of the cats that can be unlocked has the unfortunate name of “Farty Cat.” I don't know if this is a real cat or not (his picture is a cartoon, rather than a photograph), but with a name like that, I feel sorry for that cat's owners.

All in all, Catlateral Damage is an entertaining little game, but can get repetitive before too long. It does seem to be a fairly accurate assessment of a housecat's life, though – sleep, eat, catch mice and wreck things. It's about as exciting as a housecat's life, too. It's a great game for the casual player or the cat lover, though. 

About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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