Metroidvanias over the last few years have been available in abundance, and though there are some gems that exist in the lot, the announcement of another one can leave some people feeling exhausted. Thankfully, the fine folks over at Doinksoft have created a colorless, cat adventure that manages to shine and shimmer through the haze of a shrouded genre.
Gato Roboto is a monocrhomatic meow-troidvania– I’m sorry– that has you controlling a cat named Kiki after your ship crash lands on an alien planet. As Kiki, you and your mech trade off in moments of combat and puzzle platforming to uncover power-ups for your mech and upgrades to your health. Some of these core elements are the pillars of most games in the genre, but the responsive controls, charm of the interaction between the captain and Kiki, and the simplistic yet significant art style all blend together to offer a unique experience.
In the demo that I was able to play at PAX East, you start off with what is presumably the opening to the game. The narrative unfolds and you discover your mech for the first time. Learning the limitations and strengths of both the mech and Kiki through clever level layout and radio communication with your captain are clear examples of good game design and enjoyably writing that I expect remain persistent throughout the adventure. As the dialogue between the captain and Kiki progresses throughout the demo you may expect it to evolve passed “meows” but it doesn’t. Though, every time I was met with a cat sound I couldn’t help but cut a crinkled smile into my usually serious looking mug.
The PAX East demo consisted of some areas of platforming and puzzle solving, hidden rooms to discover, power-ups to collect, and a boss fight that wasn’t a pushover. All of these are core tenants to what I am sure Gato Roboto will be overflowing with. Though my time spent with the game was brief, only ten minutes or so, I am swooning over the thought of diving back into this mysterious alien planet. Plus, you’re a cat.
Gato Roboto scratches its way through a black and white art style and a screen layout that made me feel like it was the 90s and I was curled up on my parent’s couch with my translucent lime green Game Boy Pocket. Seriously, the delicious pixel art and game’s presentation are so well done that the omission of color only heightens my appreciation for the aesthetic that Doinksoft showcases. Not to mention the stellar audio design that elevated the atmosphere in the game. The music sounded like alien ghosts moaning in the shadows while synth waves and electronic sounds fluttered throughout each room. While the mumbled grumbles of the captain speaking to Kiki, and the creaking and robotic twang of your mech helped immerse me deeper into this intergalactic adventure.
It’s no wonder why Gato Roboto was not only a recipient of one of our Best In Show awards at PAX East this year, but remains one of my most anticipated indie games coming to Nintendo Switch and Steam later this year. I’ll be looking forward to making sure Kiki can overcome her adventure and get back to lounging around the captain’s ship once again.
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