Whether it’s Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed or Grand Theft Auto, it’s easy for gamers to get lost in huge open worlds and never look back. Yet there’s a whole different world online with indie developers offering some classic arcade-style gaming that harks back to the earlier days of video games. After all, not every game has to be hours and hours of entertainment to the point where your significant other starts to wonder where you’ve been. Some of the best times are those short-and-sweet, action-packed moments where you’re kicking ass at 2 AM in the morning just because you can. Developer Witch Beam absolutely understands this area of the market and has focused on delivering such an experience with Assault Android Cactus.
For the first game from an indie start-up, Assault Android Cactus is a pretty polished accomplishment. It has quite the fanbase having launched back in 2015 for Windows, PS4 last year and now finally making it to Xbox One. Whatever the issues were with launch delays on Microsoft’s console, they are long gone and now everyone gets to enjoy the escapades of Cactus and her space adventures. We follow the story of the junior constable as she crashes her ship and ends up on Genki Star, a freighter that is overrun with slightly crazy robots just looking to kill everyone. Sounds fun, right?
Twin stick shoot-em-ups aren’t the easiest games in the world, especially if you’re like me and your brain gets confused from time to time, but they do tend to lend themselves to high-octane non-stop gaming that gets your blood pumping. Assault Android Cactus is definitely that. From the moment it all kicks off you’re thrust into the action and you don’t get a moment to think about what you’re doing so expect a slightly steep learning curve. It can certainly be unforgiving and I died more times than I care to remember but at least I was enjoying it. There’s a fine line between that and total frustration but you should get better with each try.
The game is as much about defence as it is attack. You’ll need to get used to running back and forward, desperately trying to find some space to switch weapons and eradicate the hordes of enemies that seemingly come out of nowhere. This happens a lot, especially when you find yourself with some breathing space for a few seconds. It never lasts long! There’s certainly a sense of achievement from surviving, improving your weapons and the skills involved in finally making it to the end. You’ll get arrogant and cocky and think you’ve mastered it and then the game will throw even more at you but you’ll get there. It’s a release that’s worth persevering with and Witch Beam understands its audience and allows you to get as immersed in scores and achievements as you choose to.
As with many similar indie releases, Assault Android Cactus isn’t the biggest or longest game in the world but it does have a lot of replay value; especially if you become a little obsessed with becoming the best and beating others. Each enemy you come across becomes increasingly difficult, whether they jump or teleport or control you and you learn that you can no longer just run around aimlessly firing and hoping for the best. This is also the case for operating weapons and the cooldown system. With different gameplay styles and firepower including Mega Weapons, there’s plenty to explore and play around with without getting bored.
With 25 stages, single player and local co- op options – and various modes including story, campaign and boss rush amongst others – Assault Android Cactus delivers a well-rounded experience that allows players to choose from nine characters and work their way up. It’s a great first effort from Witch Beam and one you’ll find yourself playing for just another few minutes and then suddenly you’ve lost an entire weekend to it. You’ll become attached to one character and then realise you’ve been missing out by not playing one of the others. Experimenting is a lot of fun so make sure you go through everything that is on offer. Some are better in certain situations than others. So whether you’re looking for something casual or a bit more challenging, Assault Android Cactus has it all and it’s well worth a look.
Assault Android Cactus is available now on XBox One.