As I said in my recent preview of the game, Gato Roboto is a title I’ve been pretty excited about all year. This new game by Doinksoft and Devolver Digital combines two things I really enjoy: Metroidvanias and adorable fluffy kitty cats. After recently completing the game, I can say that my positive first impressions stayed the whole way through the game, even if the experience is over way too soon.
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Windows PC (Reviewed), Switch
Release Date: May 30th, 2019
Gato Roboto starts out with Gary and his faithful feline companion Kiki patrolling space when they receive a distress signal from an abandoned research facility on a remote planet. A misplaced paw on an important computer console results in their ship crashing on the planet, leaving Gary trapped and injured in the cockpit.
With Gary out of commission, its up to Kiki to explore the underground facility, unravel the lab’s mysteries, and find a way to get them off the planet. This might sound like a difficult task for such a small fur ball, but luckily for Kiki the facility’s pilotable mech suits are cat-compatible.
Calling Gato Roboto a “Metroidvania” is extremely accurate, as the game plays a lot like an older title in the Metroid series. It really feels like game you might have played on your NES back in your youth. As you can see from the game’s official artwork, Kiki’s mech even bears more than a passing resemblance to Samus’ famous suit.
Later upgrades would all feel right at home as something Samus picked up on one of her many adventures. You’ll also find yourself backtracking a lot as you acquire new abilities to find all the game’s hidden areas and collectables.
Gato Roboto‘s gameplay will often have you jumping in and out of your mech. While in the mech, Kiki is a formidable, heavily armored killing machine with a small arsenal of high power weaponry. You start the game with a basic semi-automatic arm cannon, and before long you gain access to a rocket launcher.
The rockets are powerful, capable of killing most enemies in one or two hits, and can be used to both augment your jump and destroy certain blocks and other bits of terrain. The downside is that the rockets have a slower rate of fire and must “recharge” after shooting two rockets in rapid succession. Later on you’ll get a significantly more powerful version of the arm cannon to supplement your arsenal.
The other abilities you’ll find help your mech’s fairly clunky movement. There’s a double jump that turns you into a ball that lets you bounce off enemies, and a dash move that grants you a brief moment of invulnerability. Other collectables in the game include game cartridges, which give you palette swaps and play into a side quest.
The game’s world is broken down into several sections of the underground facility, most of which grant you a new ability and are capped off with a boss fight that centers around using your new power.
All of the boss fights are really fun and well designed tests of the skills and powers you’ve acquired throughout the game, and are some of the only parts in Gato Roboto that are somewhat challenging. There’s about eight of them altogether, and for me, they were some of the biggest highlights of the game.
Outside of the mech segments that make up most of the game, there will be some places where you need to jump out of your suit and play as Kiki. These segments typically involve using Kiki’s small size, wall climb, and ability to swim to reach areas that are inaccessible to your clunky mechanical suit.
There’s even an entire wing of the facility that consists of tight corridors and air vents, and also features a few turret sequences. While outside of the mech Kiki is extremely vulnerable, and any hit will result in a game over.
The water segments usually also involve a small submarine with torpedoes. The submarine is a lot more maneuverable than the mech, and the controls are very different, giving the game some neat variety in its combat.
There isn’t a ton of complicated platforming in Gato Roboto, which is a shame because the Not-Morph Ball’s ability to bounce off enemies and objects feels like a missed opportunity. There’s really only one significant platforming sequence that makes use of this quirk of the ability, and it would have been nice to see it explored a lot more.
Most of my review has been very positive, and with good reason. Gato Roboto is a really solid retro-inspired Metroid clone that gets the controls and feel of an old school platformer just right. It also has some charming visuals that look great in motion, quirky dialog, and a nice soundtrack that mixes synth music with more traditional chiptunes. However, Gato Roboto has a few noticeable and glaring flaws.
First of all, the game isn’t particularly difficult. Aside from a few missteps during the cat segments, the only time I really died in Gato Roboto was during some of the boss fights. Most standard encounters aren’t particularly threatening, and I even beat the final boss on my first try. I’m a video game journalist, so that should tell you how much of a breeze most of the game is.
More importantly, however, the game is extremely short. I beat it in around 3 hours and 43 minutes, and that was with just shy of a 90% collectables completion rate. If you don’t count my deaths, you can probably shave another 10-15 minutes from that completion time.
It was actually very disappointing, because I was having a load of fun with the game and wanted to see it last a bit longer. On the bright side, Gato Roboto only costs $8, so its no where near the same level of disappointment as buying a $60 AAA game that lasts about as long as a short Peter Jackson movie.
While the relatively easy difficulty and very short completion time might turn off quite a few of the people that come to this site, I can’t help but give Gato Roboto a hearty recommendation. Retro-inspired platformers are a dime a dozen, especially on PC, but Gato Roboto nails the aesthetic and gameplay of an older console game.
Gato Roboto features some charming animations and character interaction between Gary and his beloved kitty cat. The only truly disappointing thing I found about the game is that its over way too soon. However, if you don’t mind spending $8 for a really fun but short Metroid-like experience, then you should definitely give it a shot.
Gato Roboto was reviewed on Windows PC using a review copy provided by Devolver Digital. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.