Preview: Assault Android Cactus (Early Access)

Disclaimer: The campaign was the only game mode available at this pre-alpha stage of the game, with more features, androids and levels to be added when the full game is released.

Developed by Witch Team from right here in Aussie land, Cactus is a game centred around survival, high pressure and quick actions. The game is still under development, but the early access release is still very playable, and of course, extremely enjoyable. Witch Team have done one hell of a job at conceiving this game which, in my eyes, promises to be a great Arcade throwback with its fast paced action, quick levels and character roster.

With highly stylized 3D graphics, the visuals are quite simple, but attractive; I can immediately tell that the art style is timeless, reminding me of older games such as Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank, which, even though are they are old, they still look good; Assault Android Cactus will definitively stand the test of time.

AAC Screen 3
The music is very enjoyable, with nice futuristic techno beats that match the pace of battles as you progress through different stages of a level. It pumps you up good with adrenaline, and when you fall, the music matches this by slowing down and lowering its volume until you get back up, almost as if the music was playing alongside you. It’s a very nice touch that I definitively appreciate.

Cactus and her team of elite androids are all uniquely designed with a chibi kind of style going for them, with varying armours, colours and weapons. The robot enemies you will be facing all have unique designs too, for example, some can be birds, others can be spinning towers that shoot lasers, and others even have giant metal balls for hands! They were all created with a comical, but functional configuration, so that their appearance matches what they do in the game.

It’s all very charming and unique. The whole experience really comes together nicely; all thanks to the attention to detail that was put into the game as a whole. You will find no dullness or dead colours here, Cactus is vibrant!

AAC SCreen 2
Resembling a game from a past era, Assault Android Cactus is a top down 3D shoot-em-up game with a very classic feel to it, very akin to an arcade experience. You control 1 android from a basic roster of 4 androids, with more unlockable as you progress. Every android in the team is equipped with 2 unique weapons with different strengths and weaknesses, one for the primary attack, and another for the secondary attack. The primary attack is what you will be using most of the time to take care of the common grunt robots that are set to attack you, while the secondary attack tends to be more suited for clearing more robots quicker, or taking care of the tougher ones that have more HP. You can use both as many times as you like, with the secondary attack only requiring a short cooldown to become usable again.

Depending on how you prefer to play, You will want to pick an android with a weapon set that suits your style the best. Dying too often in a level might also mean that you require a change of android, as sometimes you will find that a certain android is more suited to a level than another, but it’s all very relative and flexible, because you can choose to not swap androids and stick to the one that you like the most for the entirety of the game.

The campaign is simple and straight forward. Much like an Arcade game, it is comprised of a roster of selectable stages that unlock more as they are completed. The stages are set in small to medium sized futuristic rooms, with unique obstacles and features to all them. The objective is to survive all the waves of robots that come to attack you. Surviving is quite simple; as you defeat incoming robots, at certain points of a stage, one of them will drop a battery, which is used to recharge your android’s battery. The battery naturally depletes as time passes in a level, so defeat all the robots you see, and hunt for that battery when you see it!

AAC Screen 1
Clearing all the waves of robots would be nigh impossible without stronger firepower, but there is hope! Destroyed enemies drop energy, which is used to upgrade your primary weapon, which can improve its range, power, or both. Enemies will also randomly drop Firepower, Shutdown and Accelerate power ups, which can further help you in battle. Firepower provides you with 2 drones that shoot alongside your shots, Shutdown temporarily turns off robots while re charging your HP, and Accelerate gives you wings of light that propel you at high speed. Look out for these items when playing the game, you’ll need them. Very much.

Clear enough stages in the campaign and you’ll unlock a boss battle stage. A boss battle stage works the same way as the normal ones, but the difficulty sky rockets. The boss has a unique arsenal of weapons and skills that will give you an extra tough time, all the while having to avoid other robots that are there to support it. Just look out for those power ups and you’ll be fine.
Watch out for you battery too. Seriously.

A fantastic experience, Assault Android Cactus really took me back with its arcade like design and gameplay, it reminded me of the good all days were all I cared about was for games to be nice and fun. Simple and intuitive with a doze of frenzy, Cactus will have you glued to the screen, trying to beat your own score and time, all the while looking for that battery.

You can pickup Assault Android Cactus on Early Access on Steam now! It’s due for final release on Wii U, PS4 & Vita in Q1 of 2014.