How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. The structure and short length makes it less open than more robust Metroidvanias, but otherwise it fits the bill.
Primary Challenge: Exploration Focus, Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~3 hours
Review Info: Gato Roboto was played on Steam
Buy Gato Roboto if you like…
- Explosive and Crunchy combat
- Minimalist Presentation
- Cute humor
▼ Review continues below ▼
Gato Roboto is the kind of Metroidvania game that I live for. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish, with just a dash of extra exploration to satiate the completionists. It’s by no means perfect; the ideas it presents are just fleshed out enough to make you thirsty for more, making its budget length feel a little too short. The pattern it follows is very formulaic, even if it is a winning formula. Achieving 100% might be a bit frustrating too since undoubtedly it’s going to leave you stumped. But it’s hard to linger on any flaws when it’s so dang cute.
Right from the start Gato Roboto shows off its style, as the game’s plot is rooted in its playful silliness. You’ve crash landed on an alien planet, the real soldier is incapable of completing the mission himself, so he does what any good soldier would do – No, not call up his superiors to report the situation and send for backup! He sends his cat in instead! Duh! Even though it’s intentionally silly, this is exactly the kind of plot any video game needs. It has just enough mystery to keep you wanting to look for more clues and explore, and it’s entertaining enough to be a reward for your accomplishments. Dialog is riddled with character expression explosively enhanced by percussive beats, making finding even the mundane palette change collectables feel like it’s part of a jam.
Of course all of this style would go to waste if it wasn’t backing up some excellent gameplay, and Gato Roboto presents some top notch challenges – even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel doing so. The bosses especially are a treat – designed in such a way that it doesn’t matter that you essentially use the same two weapons for the course of the entire game. Every boss starts out slow and escalates as they lose HP, keeping you on your toes and making it more than just a trade of reactions and counter reactions. This is a good design for bosses that last a bit longer – though there are some mini-bosses that do allow you to repeat the same strategy for perhaps a little too long.
Exploration too is an absolute joy, maybe even perhaps because the world itself isn’t too hard to complete because of its smaller size. You effectively have two forms throughout the game – in your mech nor not in your mech. You can get through smaller spaces and climb walls while you’re just a cat, but you will die instantly at any damage. Learning which form is necessary for each secret presents an exploration puzzle that carries most of the game even without the addition of the Metroidvania movement upgrades. Your primary collectable doesn’t technically do anything by itself but provide optional aesthetic changes, but if you collect enough of them you can unlock some welcome upgrades to your gun.
I really want to emphasize how good the presentation in the game feels. When you’re in your mech, you stomp around loudly, making clanks and bangs. While the game is presented in only two colors, the sound design adds a delightful crunch to every movement and effect, making everything have a gritty weight to it. Even if the game design wasn’t solid, it would feel great to control.
If you have played a lot of Metroidvania games, then Gato Roboto might feel a little rote. It uses a hubworld that splits into three sub areas. Most of these areas can be completed entirely on your first pass through them, giving little reason to backtrack if you’re thorough. Anyone with a lot of experience with these kinds of games will likely plow through the content with no issue. If you’re diligent with finding your health upgrades and get at least one gun upgrade from the collectables, you’re also likely going to have an easy time with the bosses.
The exception to this relative easiness is finding the last couple of collectables if you’re trying to get 100%. For most of the game exactly where you can go is telegraphed on the map screen, so you can quickly see exactly the area you should be looking for your missing progress. Sometimes though even if it is telegraphed, you may be looking at the exit to the secret area rather than the entrance, meaning you need to follow the clues on the screen to find the entryway. Its this tracing that might end up being a little frustrating near the end of your journey. I got to the end of the game in probably around 100 minutes, but I probably spent an extra 45 bouncing around looking for the last cartridge that I ended up not finding at all.
Getting lost while looking for 100% isn’t anything new for the genre, so once I got bored I decided I’d go check out the game’s ending thinking I might come back. The game warns you pretty clearly though that going through the game’s ending sequence is a point of no return – and it wasn’t kidding. Once you beat the game your file is locked into a state where you can’t go back and explore anything else. This is kind of a shame, in my opinion, since I would have liked to complete that particular file, and while I’ll undoubtedly come back to Gato Roboto in the future to go for some of the other achievements, replaying the whole game so quickly in succession wasn’t something I was keen on. Once people start making guides for this game any player will be able to mitigate aimless frustrations at their leisure, but until then be prepared to do a lot of wandering if you want 100% on your first run.
Minor frustrations aside though, Gato Roboto comes in as a great example of the genre, and while it may be a little easy for veteran players, I still recommend it as a Mini-Metroidvania diversion or even as someone’s first Metroidvania ever. I’d love to see them add a hard mode or maybe a little extra content to help hit that absolute point of satisfaction that I’m craving from it, but as-is, Gato Roboto makes a great showing as a break from larger more meaty games – or just from your life too busy for higher commitments.
The combat is excellent albeit a little on the easy side. Gato Roboto is a great game for beginner Metroidvanians
There are a few challenging secrets to find, but for the most part platforming here is for getting from point A to B - in a true metroidvania fashion
Being a mini-metroidvania, there aren't a TON of secrets to find, but the theming and rewards make it a TON of fun to find them
No puzzle focus in this game. Some secrets will require you to figure out the combination fo abilities, but that's more puzzle platforming
It's a silly excuse to blow some stuff up, which makes it wholly entertaining
The minimalist presentation is perfect for conveying the gameplay
Drum beats keep the adrenaline going when it matters
There is a speedrunning achievement, and if you didn't get 100% the first time around you'll need to play again
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