Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off and shoot things! So goes the Declaration of Independence, the document that guides the governance of the great American nation. The Declaration provides this and many other valuable insights into daily life, such as “it’s time to kick ass and chew bubblegum.” (RIP “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) Such things often need declaring.
We can say with certainty, then, that the Founding Fathers would appreciate games like Assault Android Cactus – games that are all about shooting stuff. In this case, all that shooting is related to the goal of Cactus, the android space cop, who arrives on a station in turmoil to restore order with the help of some comrades.
Said order-restoring takes the form of a twin-stick arena shooter. There’s a standard story mode with a progression-based world map, as well as an infinite-play survival mode. Stages generally consist of taking out a horde of enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible, though there’s the odd boss stage as well. While you lack a life bar, per se, the androids do have a constantly-draining battery meter that ends your game when it empties. Taking a hit knocks you down, drains some battery and makes you waste time getting back up, so it’s best to be avoided.
Cactus and co. wield a pair of weapons each; your primary weapon typically does less damage or covers a greater area, while your secondary weapon deals more damage but must cool down after being used. Carefully balancing the use of both weapons to deal out as much carnage as possible is central to gameplay. You’ll also need to run around and grab various power-ups that are dropped by fallen foes; these range from a speed boost to freezing the enemies, as well as battery boosters that you’ll need to collect to keep playing.
The titular Cactus isn’t the only butt-kicking bot available for your use, of course. There are a total of eight playable characters, though you’re going to need to unlock four of these by defeating area bosses. The androids differ largely in their weapon selections. Cactus is your baseline, of course, with a balanced loadout consisting of an assault rifle and flamethrower. Other characters cater to different playstyles. Holly, for instance, has an auto-tracking primary weapon and a powerful piercing cannonball.
My favorite turned out to be the unlockable Aubergine, who has a spinning buzzsaw drone as a primary weapon and a gravitational field generator for a secondary; the combination of the two provides for a strong defense at any range. Unlocking new characters and experimenting with their weaponry proves to be the highlight of Assault Android Cactus.
This one’s currently in Early Access, which evokes a cold chill down the spine of any well-educated gamer. You’re in good hands here, though, as this style of game is perfectly enjoyable without too many frills. The graphics and sound are polished and impressive. There’s some degree of missing content, but most of it appears to be toward the end of the game as, for instance, the final boss lacks a fancy cutscene introduction. Releases on the game have also talked about upcoming Mega Weapons for the characters, essentially more powerful versions of their primary weapons that can take out hordes of bots at once.
As it stands, Assault Android Cactus is an enjoyable twin-stick arena shooter that looks, sounds and plays great. Despite the dreaded Early Access label, it’s still a solid game for your money. If you’re looking for some polished bot-blasting action, you really can’t go wrong here.