Gato Roboto – Hands-on Preview

Its no secret that Devolver Digital has a knack for finding quirky indie games to publish, and Doinksoft’s upcoming Gato Roboto is no exception.

This adorable 2D adventure game is something I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced last year, and Devolver Digital was kind enough to send us a preview ahead of its release. Here’s my first impressions after around two hours of play.

In Gato Roboto, you play as the furry feline companion of a starship captain. After an unfortunate incident involving a cat paw and an expensive computer console, your ship has crashed on a hostile alien world. With your owner trapped and injured in the ship, its up to you to explore a vast underground facility trying to find a way to rescue the both of you.

Luckily, the facility is littered with control rooms full of feline-friendly robotic mech suits. Gato Roboto‘s gameplay is split between fighting enemies in the mech, and using your smaller and more mobile cat form to reach out-of-the-way areas.

Calling Gato Roboto a Metroidvania would be a tad bit inaccurate, because the game is a straight up Metroid clone, and in a all the right ways. The game really nails the look, feel, and controls of an early Metroid title, and there’s loads of secret rooms and new areas that require backtracking after you acquire an item.

The game’s shooting is also four directional and the controls are fairly limited, so if you really want to crank up the nostalgia factor the game would play just fine with a USB NES or SNES controller. If you love the 2D Metroid games then you’ll feel right at home in Gato Roboto. Even many of the gadgets and powers showcased in the trailers are extremely similar to ones from Metroid.

The slow and bulky mech allows you to fight the game’s many alien and robotic enemies. The mech comes equipped with a basic semi-automatic arm cannon at the beginning, and can take six hits by default. In my playthrough so far, I found a rocket launcher and some health upgrades.

The rocket launcher deals significantly more damage than your basic arm cannon, but has a cooldown between shots. The rocket has noncombat applications as well. It can destroy certain blocks and bits of terrain, and you can use it to perform rocket jumps over longer gaps or high obstructions.

I also encountered a vendor that sent me on a side quest, so clearly you can buy items later on. There’s a status screen that shows multiple blank spots for upgrades and other abilities. Recent gameplay footage has shown off things like a dash move, so while the powers I encountered so far are limited, there’s definitely more to the game’s combat, platforming, and puzzles than in the initial two hours.

There’s also some underwater segments where you get to pilot a submarine equipped with torpedoes. The submarine levels play a lot differently due to the added freedom of movement, and the first underwater boss I fought played like a horizontal shmup.

As I mentioned earlier, disembarking from your mech plays a huge role in the game’s secrets, platforming, and puzzle solving. Your mech is slow, clunky, and can’t enter water, so you’ll frequently need to jump out and accomplish tasks as a cat.

The cat dies instantly to any sort of damage, but is far more fast and nimble. You can jump greater distances, scale walls, swim, and squeeze through small spaces that are otherwise inaccessible.

If the game’s black and white presentation isn’t your thing, you can find palette swaps hidden throughout the game’s levels. Apparently collecting these also ties into the game’s upgrade system, but I didn’t get far enough in the preview to see this mechanic in action. The animations are fast and fluid, and the game looks great in motion.

Gato Roboto is shaping up to be a charming, well-designed throwback to Metroid that is well worth keeping on your radar. It has excellent presentation, a great chiptune soundtrack, some fun boss encounters, and a fluffy cat piloting a killer mech suit with rockets and machine guns. I’ll continue my playthrough of the game when this preview is over, and give you a proper review once the game is ready for release.

Sadly, Gato Roboto doesn’t have a firm launch date quite yet, but the press release said this was a “near-final” build and the game should be out fairly soon. It will be available for Windows PC (via Steam) and the Nintendo Switch.

Frank Streva

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Niche Gamer’s resident indie expert. Digs through the Steam new releases so you don’t have to. Massive fan of miniature and board games as well.