Assault Android Cactus or AAC for short is a new twin-stick shooter from developer Witch Beam. It’s a game that almost anyone can get through but also rewards those that put more time into it and learn its systems and different playable characters. If you’re looking for a challenge or a new game to chase some high scores look no further.
The game starts simple enough with basic level layouts and pretty easy enemies. It doesn’t remain that way for long though as levels will soon start changing right under your feet and things like conveyor belts that pull you towards enemies as well as laser turrets come into play. Enemies become more difficult too as you’ll encounter titans that will leap at you and ground pound, laser blasting spectres that teleport, and even some small enemies that can tether you and make you unable to get away. The bigger enemies take more bullets to bring down so either you’ll want to power up your primary weapons by picking up the parts on the ground when you destroy enemies or switch to your more powerful secondary weapon.
Speaking of weapons you’ll have a lot to choose from as each of the nine playable androids (some of which have to be unlocked as you play) has their own loadout of a primary and secondary weapon. This is where the depth of the game comes into play as you’ll have to learn how to use each of the characters and who is the best for certain situations. Cactus the first character you start the game with has an assault rifle has a primary and a flamethrower for a secondary. She was my preferred android during my time with the game as I found her damage output to work well for me. Other characters include Starch who uses a laser beam for a primary that does more damage the closer you are to your enemy and her secondary unleashes a Rocket barrage.
If you ever find yourself stuck on a level or frustrated with it try switching to one of the other androids and giving them a try. There were a few times where I did and found myself having an easier time. They are all there for a reason and I really like that the game offers so many different choices of characters to use. My second favorite character was probably Peanut who can shoot molten metal for a primary and uses a drill attack that shoots you across the screen. If you hit an enemy along the way you’ll drill him into other enemies or into the wall that you end up hitting. It’s also useful for getting away quickly if you find yourself surrounded or for getting to a powerup or battery laying on the ground.
Each android’s secondary weapon operates on a cooldown so you can’t use them for long. Still they are necessary as like I said they do more damage to bigger enemies and bosses as well as groups of enemies. Knowing when to use your secondary weapon is just one more part of the game that adds depth. I mentioned power ups above and they give you a limited time advantage. They can increase your speed, give you extra fire power or temporarily shut down all the enemies on the map. Batteries also drop and you’ll have to pick these up refill your battery meter at the top of the screen. This meter drops as you move around and fire your weapons as well as when you take damage. You’ll want to keep an eye out for any battery that drops.
If you get hit too much you’ll drop to the ground and have to rapidly hit the R2 button to get back up. The only way to fail a level is by running out of battery. Still or those of you who want to earn the higher ranks on each level and get the best score you’re going to want to avoid getting hit. When you finish a level you’ll receive a letter grade from D to S+. Getting the higher ranks takes skill as if you want an S rank you can’t get knocked down a single time and if you want S+ you’re going to have to avoid getting knocked down as well as kill every enemy without breaking your chain. If you go more than a few seconds between killing enemies your chain will be broken and you’ll have to start over if you want S+. Only the best players will be able to earn a S+ on every level in the game.
If you’re not interested in getting the best possible score the game has plenty more to offer you. The game supports up to 4-player local co-op if you want to play with friends. The Infinity Drive mode puts you against an endless army of enemies to see what wave you can survive to. Daily Drive gives you a new challenge every day that you get one chance at. Boss Rush Mode pits you against every boss in the game in a row. You can use credits you earn in the game to unlock some bonuses too like visual filters, first person mode, and more. The game has a lot of content.
For an indie game AAC looks really good. The characters and enemies are all well designed and while there isn’t much voice acting what is there is done well. The music and sound effects in the game are also top notch and really get you in the mood to blast some enemies. There isn’t much here for story as it really comes down to cop android Cactus landing on this spaceship and saving some other androids. They then set out to take down the evil force on board. It’s not really a big deal as this game is all about the gameplay and it excels at that.
If you want a great new twin stick shooter that looks great, sounds great, and most of all plays great pick up Assault Android Cactus on PS4. Whether you’re a pro at these kind of games or an average gamer you can have fun with it and it gives you plenty to do.
*Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.