Keep these remixed dishes spinning – in space!
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: an up-to-four-player co-op game featuring diminutive avatars in timed stages, desperately trying to not be burned by the flames of failure while they attempt to grapple with the ‘quirks’ of each level environment. You’d be forgiven for thinking we’d already reviewed this game back in OPM #153 but, let us tell you, a spaceship is completely different to a kitchen.
For starters, there’s generally more firepower aboard such a vessel. The task you’ll be tangoing with aboard the USS definitely-not-a-standard-Starfleet-ship is avoiding the destruction of said ship at the hands of a sneering, scaly alien race. It’s blast or be blasted as you run between guns while trying to patch up the damage to your ship. Unfortunately, the person who designed the vessel had apparently never had to pilot such a craft, or indeed had much involvement with one, as the onboard layout is part of the challenge you’ll need to contend with. For starters, who thought it was good idea to put a revolving door slap-bang in the middle of a spaceship? Or decided to assign a single fire extinguisher to a segmented shuttle? To say nothing of the shoddy airlock system!
Catastronauts metes out new obstacles like this regularly, balancing its pacing against an engaging level of challenge. You’re not overwhelmed by new mechanics, as each introductory level will take a few tries to get right, but your failures seldom frustrate. Deaths are almost as entertaining as your victories, and the cloning stations aboard each level mean at worst they’re only an inconvenience.
It’s certainly a novel approach to team building, chiefly because it so thoroughly destroys friendships. Communication is key, but this isn’t everyone’s strong suit, so if you’re antisocial, you will be pleased to hear that you can also put both of your hands on deck alone, tapping the shoulder buttons to switch between two crew members. Score margins are incredibly forgiving when playing this way, and generally it feels much more sedate than full-on four-player co-op chaos. While the option of a solo mission is appreciated, the game simply isn’t at its best here.
So pull your buds out of cryosleep, you’ve got a ship to save! If you can manage to extinguish fires before the red shirt turns a truly incandescent shade, or resist the urge to fling the hapless twerp out of the airlock, you may just have a shot at saving yourselves. And if they really are that useless there’s no need to be aggressive, because the end-oflevel award ceremony will tell them what’s what. With this goofy tone, and even managing to up the difficulty level compared to other officers of its rank, it’s got all the makings of a much-loved party classic.
“YOUR DEATHS ARE ALMOST AS ENTERTAINING AS YOUR VICTORIES.”
Fanning the flames of conflict is actual fire. Opening the airlock will put it out, but you may lose crew too.
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