Twin-stick shooters are a dime a dozen nowadays, especially the kind that takes place in an enclosed arena. Spacecats with Lasers dares to be different by featuring a cat who flies around in space battling evil rats. For three bucks, it's a silly good time.
Kitties in space!
Spacecats with Lasers: The Outerspace (the full title) comes from indie developer Bitten Toast Games. When you start a new game, you'll select from three difficulty levels. Then it's off to outer space to battle against dastardly rats and dogs.
Each level takes place within an enclosed arena. A set number of enemies will spawn in to attack our heroic kitty. Once the enemies go down, the camera shifts to a behind-the-cat view and you're off to the next level.
The cosmic kitty has a basic shot that can be aimed in any direction. This weapon must be reloaded after a set number of shots, putting the hero in danger. This style of twin-stick shooter – an arena-based one – is not well-suited to reloading. The mechanic slows you down and makes you consider shots when it'd be so much more fun to just go guns blazing at all times.
Still, the Spacecat is not entirely defenseless during reloads. It also has a dash move that helps escape from danger. Kitty can't be harmed during dashes. But they take a while to recharge, so you can't just dash around all the time.
Between levels, players get to select one upgrade from a random pool of four. These include such effects as increased health, a chance of shots exploding, increased movement speed, and more. The upgrade lasts until you get a game over, so your kitty becomes ever more powerful as the game goes on. That said, the reload speed perk barely makes a difference, and you'll never get any cool weapons (such as a spread shot or wave laser) to replace the default pea shooter.
Every ten levels culminate in a boss battle. Although the regular enemies are all rats of various shapes and abilities (some even fire yarn balls that split up when shot), the first boss is a gigantic robot dog. It's a bad dog.
Customize your kitty
The goal during individual Spacecat games is simply to get as far as possible and earn as many points as possible. Still, the game has a fun metagame mechanic tied to cat customization. The more stars you earn from reaching new levels, the more parts you can buy for your kitty.
You can customize the cat's head, color, and vehicle. I quite like my cat flying around on a keyboard. There aren't that many different customization options in total, but at least we get to personalize our kitties a bit.
Controls and system requirements
Spacecats with Lasers supports both mouse and keyboard controls and controllers. I much prefer the controller for this style of game, so I'm glad it's supported. The cursor is a bit hard to see when selecting menu options, but it works well enough.
- OS: Windows 7 or higher
- Processor: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 (2.5GHz) or equivalent
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card
- Storage: 400 MB available space
I expect a three-dollar game to run on practically everything, and thankfully, Spacecats doesn't disappoint. It plays perfectly smooth at 1080p on my Ultrabook, and should work on low-spec machines like the Surface Pro as well.
The only performance issue I encountered was a squished display (with black bars on the sides and scrunched menus) at the default resolution of 720p. Changing it to 1080p fixed the issue, thankfully.
Spacecats with Lasers is a silly little shooter designed to appeal to cat lovers like me. Flying around as a cat while blasting rats is good fun for an hour or two.
This is a very inexpensive game, but I still wish it leaned farther into the humor of the premise. I want to hear more cat sounds (there are barely any) and see more jokes that reference cats and/or cat memes. The game is a perfectly competent arena-based shooter. But with a greater sense of humor, it'd really be the cat's meow.
- Cats in space!
- Customize your kitty and then blast some rats.
- Selecting perks between levels is fun.
- Reload mechanic bogs the game down.
- No powerful weapons for your kitty to wield.
- Doesn't fully deliver on the humor of the premise.
Spacecats with Lasers: The Outerspace costs $2.99 on Steam. For $4.99, you can also get a virtual reality version called Spacecats with Lasers VR.
Steam review code provided by the publisher.