Before you read
Not a lot to know before you read as it’s the usual: I’m very familiar with the Metroidvania genre, there is only a default difficulty and the game was played on Steam. Basically the usual. I didn’t really bother with the speedrunning achievement though, mostly because I know that it would be a very tight one and I don’t feel like risking it. Despite that, I have completed the entire game 100% before making this review. Yet again there is not music to listen to. There just aren’t any worthwhile soundtracks to post here; it fits the atmosphere of the game, but outside of the game it just sounds bleh.
A few weeks back I was talking about the Devolver Digital sale and how I purchased multiple titles from it, including Pikuniku which I reviewed not too long ago. But amongst the sale, there were two games in particular that I wanted to try out: Titan Souls and today’s game, Gato Roboto. I’ve heard from multiple people that this game specifically was a neat little Metroidvania and since I’m a connoisseur of that genre, you know I couldn’t skip out on it. I was also running out of games to play–ironic I know, since I have over 800 games on Steam alone–so I went for this one straight away. It also helped that one of the genres currently in the Nep’s Gaming Paradise Game Club is Metroidvanias, so this also helps with progress towards it!
More Metroid, less Vania
What I noticed straight away is that Gato Roboto felt very much like a Metroid homage instead of a straight Metroidvania. With that I mean how the world feels to play in, and how the character controls throughout the course of the game. I’ll come back to gameplay later so let’s focus on the map instead for now. The game’s map is not an interconnected map where each area has multiple exits, and instead multiple areas connected to one main hub. You very rarely revisit older areas too except for when you missed something or in some cases when you got a new upgrade. Keep in mind that this is not a critique at all, but more a way to better understand how Gato Roboto sets up its world. The progression is therefore also linear, though I will mention that the game allows you to sequence break. Without going into spoilers, you can get to some areas early which you would have needed an ability for by normal means. How this works is something you’ll have to find out yourself, but I found it a genius idea by the developers as Metroidvania games usually have one way or another to sequence break them, and Gato Roboto actively encourages you to find out how to do it with an achievement. Aside from that though, the world is nothing special but does have a good amount of secrets for the curious which are not always that obvious. And hey, finding secrets turns out to be very rewarding as some powerful-but-not-necessary abilities are hidden behind them. The collectables also give the game a graphical skin which is nothing too special but a neat little reward in its own right. Also, this can be considered a spoiler but I feel it’s necessary to mention regardless: there is a point of no return in this game. It is downright shoved in your face when it happens and it does warn you to be very careful, but the warning is genuine as you can not go back after that point. That means that if you did not 100% the map before that point, you’ll be unable to do so that playthrough. Game over. Unless you hack your save file, I won’t judge~.
What a cute, totally not dangerous kitty!
Playing as the main protagonist Kiki also reminds me of the correlation between Samus and Zero-Suit Samus. Kiki is a vulnerable cat that can’t attack and will go down in one hit despite having nine lives, and thus has to be very stealthy with his gameplay. That is, until he discovers the Cat Mech 9000™ that makes him go full Samus mode. Like I’m not even kidding here, it can screwattack! It gets the ability to shoot rockets and dash as well. Yeah no use hiding it; Kiki is a knock-off Samus… and an inferior one as well. There are nowhere near as many abilities, the only two weapons are the main gun- and rockets, and is it just me or does both the cat and mech control extremely slippery? I very occasionally missed a platform I wanted to jump on just because there was no weight to the cat- or mech at all. I did not always enjoy platforming with this kitty, but other than that they controlled fine. There are also a few other mechs but they’re area-specific and also not very impressive. One just functions as an underwater-mech so that enemies can actually be killed in the water, and the other one is stationary and literally has one function: destroy a wall because your main mech isn’t there. I’m not going to judge the game on it as they’re harmless additions, but I also feel it’s hard to give praise in an age filled with Metroidvanias. What I can praise however, are the fun boss battles. There’s one in each area and use patterns of everything you’ve learned from that area. I did mention the stationary mech being useless, but it was quite fun to use in a boss battle that forced you to worm with two of those stationary mechs at once. They’re fun and challenging, and I can actually say that for the game in general despite my objective complaints: it’s not anything special in an era filled with Metroidvanias, but there’s still a good amount of fun to be had.
I have not been overly positive about Gato Roboto this review, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game; it’s just not outstanding in a market oversaturated with Metroidvania games. The world is fun to explore, but it’s almost completely linear so I can praise this game more as a platformer/action game than the genre that many people like to instantly refer to when a game has a map system with levels you can revisit after you’ve gotten new abilities. I will give special credit to the game encouraging you to sequence break however, as that was pretty fun to do. The gameplay itself feels fluid overall, though I swear the main controllable cat and its mech have butter under their feet which made platforming more difficult than it should be at times. I really enjoyed the boss battles though; they’re simple, but do use patterns with at least one mechanic you’ve been using in that area. It’s a fun game and I definitely recommend it, but your expectations should be that you’re going to be playing a short, simple Metroid-inspired game.
A shorter review again this week, but I honestly felt that there just wasn’t a lot to talk about with this game. It’s solid and I enjoyed it, but it’s very… basic. Anything else I could say would just unnecessarily extend the review and would not be relevant to my overal opinion. Still, I did want to at least talk about this game to advertise it a bit more. It’s cheap, but fun for the short amount of time it lasts. Hope you enjoyed the review regardless, and let me know what you think of the game if you’ve played it!
Games like Gato Roboto:
Metroid – Can’t really make recommendations without talking about the direct inspiration. I would say it’s most familiar to the first few Metroid games, but playing almost any game in this franchise is a recommendation.
Axiom Verge – Axion Verge is also a Metroid-inspired game that shares a similar setting, being on an alien planet. It also plays very well and is definitely one of the better Metroidvania’s from the past decade!
Xeodrifter – A game I have reviewed before that I have most of the same praises for as I do with Gato Roboto. It’s not really as much a Metroidvania as it could be, but is a pretty good, short game overall.
Question of the Review: What do you believe to be the definition of a Metroidvania? The definition differs with people, and I’m curious what the general opinion is on this. Let me know down below or reply to me on Twitter or Discord!