In space, no one can hear you argue. Here’s our review of the quirky party game, Catastronauts…
Plenty of us have dreamed of owning our own spaceship at some point: exploring other planets, shooting stuff with big, meaty laser cannons.
Most games that indulge this fantasy are, however, just a bit too dry and complicated. Forget space trading and logistics: what we really want is a game that lets us mess about in spaceships. Right on cue, along comes Inertia Games’ Catastronauts, a space combat sim that does away with the impenetrable stats and menus and injects some good whole-hearted fun into the mix.
Resembling the galactic cousin of Overcooked, it involves you and your crew working together to fight off alien invaders by running around and putting out fires – both literal and metaphorical. Each stage sees you facing off against an invading ship. Enemy attacks will cause damage to your craft and crew, so you have to balance returning fire with dealing with all kinds of stuff going wrong: damage must be repaired, fires extinguished, and bombs disposed of.
Like Overcooked, Catastronauts eases you in gently, with simple ship layouts and an easy-going pace. But the more frantic it gets, the more obstacles are thrown at you as new elements like transporters are introduced.
The beauty of a game like this, though, is that it’s so simple to pick up and play.
You only have two buttons – pick up and action – but the way small problems can (literally) blow up into bigger problems is where an otherwise simple game comes into its own. Soon enough, you’ll be scrabbling for an extinguisher to deal with quickly spreading fires while keeping an eye on a bomb that’s just appeared elsewhere.
The key part of Catastronauts’ appeal is how accessible everything is. New mechanics are introduced by a neat little instruction screen and are designed to be as intuitive as possible, so even when enemy lasers are raining down on you, you never lose sight of what you’re doing.
But solo gamers be warned: this is a game designed primarily with multiplayer in mind. If you’re the kind of social gamer who regularly has friends over for gaming sessions, then you can easily add a few more points to the review score. For everyone else, well, there’s always the online mode. Ultimately, though, Catastronauts is best enjoyed with four players on the same couch, bashing away at their controllers while shouting encouragement and insults at each other.
Catastronauts has a charming, hand-crafted feel – fitting, given that Inertia is also the studio behind a cross-stitch simulator. Like its spiritual cousin Overcooked, it has an Aardman-esque quality to its presentation, with its range of grinning characters looking like they’ve stepped out of an episode of Shaun the Sheep.