Assault Android Cactus is a twin-stick top down shooter, which involves blasting your way through tonnes of enemies. The game is all about using your weapons and movement to kill bad guys and rack up high combo kill streaks.
The game starts out with a quirky little character known as Cactus, who is an assault android. A nearby space station has sent out an emergency distress signal, which she goes to investigate. It quickly transpires that the ship has been overrun with AI causing mayhem. Cactus takes it upon herself to make her way through the space station, taking out anything and everything that stands in her way.
What makes the gameplay interesting is that health comes in the form of a battery. You can take attacks from enemies but you need to pick up batteries in order for your power supplies to remain topped up. It’s all about fun, frantic and explosive gameplay that sees you adopting various weapons, characters and upgrades to blast your way through waves of robots and enemies. At the end of each stage you receive a ranking, which gives the game good replayability.
When you start out you will go through the initial tutorial, which is fairly short and to the point. You then go on to select which character you wish to play as. You have 5 players to choose from, which all appear to be female characters. Each different character has slightly unique weapons. Cactus has a machine gun and flame thrower, Holly has seeker style weapons, Lemon has spread, Coral has a shotgun style weapon and then there is Shiitake’s with the rail gun and Aubergine has a drone type weapon. Each character comes with a secondary, more powerful weapon that can overheat quickly. The loadouts are specific to each character, which is a shame in my opinion as it would have been nice to be able to switch weapons amongst players to choose the equipment that suits your play style. I chose to stick with cactus, as I enjoyed using the machine gun and flamethrower combo.
The guns feel great and the combat is hugely satisfying. I absolutely loved mowing through multiple enemies with powerful guns and collecting loot. Movement is just as important as the shooting though, and you need to stay on your toes to avoid the barrage of bullets and lasers flying your way. The level designs are compact, hectic and also have the ability to change as you fight. This can mean that areas of cover can disappear or walls can pop up revealing turrets and other enemies. It’s important to be aware that the enemies have a variety of attacks that can impact you in different ways. For example, turrets unleash waves of bullets and hovering drones can freeze you in place, leaving you vulnerable to attack.
You will find that the areas you fight in are extremely confined and it becomes essential that you try and make use of movement, weapons and upgrades to ensure you make it through. Enemies can drop a variety of different abilities and upgrades, like speed boosts, weapon power upgrades and batteries. These become an essential part of surviving the multiple bad guys that stand in your way. The enemies are varied and therefore keep you on your toes. Some large robot enemies start to attack you and I suggest using your secondary weapon to take these on. The secondary weapon is very powerful, but only lasts a short time before overheating. As you start to progress through the stages you will come across boss battles. They are much larger and harder to beat than other enemies. These battles take time and patience and is all about whittling down their health bar whilst avoiding attacks. These battles are a nice change of pace and keeps the gameplay fresh.
The story mode does get fairly challenging as you progress and at times the whole screen can be filled with enemies swarming around you. Once you have finished the story mode there are some different options to play with. Every time you finish a stage and get your ranking you receive credit that unlocks various features like FPS mode and normal head mode. There’s an endless mode called Infinite Drive, Daily Drive which is a score-run style mode and other interesting things to unlock. The ranking system is a great idea and adds a certain amount of replayability to the game.
The presentation of the game is great, with smooth animations, playful characters and varied enemy design. I really enjoyed the cartoonish style of the characters and the evolving environments kept things interesting as you fight through bad guys. The spaceship you make your way through is interesting enough but I would have liked to have seen a bit more variation in terms of visual style. The bosses are pretty standard but look well designed and feel satisfying to take down. The sound design is good and suits the overall tone and style of the game, with electronical beats and futuristic sound effects.
Overall Assault Android Cactus is a fantastic little twin stick shooter, that is well designed, full of character and has some good variation. The characters you play as feel unique and varied as well as the enemies you face. Boss battles mix gameplay up and offer some challenging moments. I appreciated the extra modes and ranking at the end of each stage. If you like twin-stick shooters, I would certainly recommend this game.
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