Step aside, Samus. Gato Roboto's protagonist cat Kiki is every bit as able and badass as that grizzled, suited up bounty hunter. With a mechanized suit outfitted with several different abilities and level design that pays homage to Metroids of yore, Gato Roboto doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it feels great to play.
Gato Roboto is a Metroidvania developed by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. When I previewed Gato Roboto earlier this month, I fell in love with the visuals and feel of platforming around mysterious caves and laboratories. Luckily, Gato Roboto remains a solid title for any Metroidvania fan.
Gato Roboto's Simple and Effective Design
Gato Roboto's aesthetic is undeniably charming. The levels of Gato Roboto are all expertly crafted and the sprite work is outstanding. Despite Gato Roboto's black and white palette, every area you come across stands out on its own. Later on, I explored an area filled with heat and lava. Heat waves rippled across the screen, creating a very impressive effect. Another area contains metal pipes and gusts of wind, invoking an industrial feel.
Curious players can encounter cartridges to change the color scheme of their game. By enabling a cartridge, black and white might turn into a neon red scheme. I always went with the default option, but I couldn't help myself from poking my nose in every room I suspect could hide one of these elusive cartridges.
The soundtrack is also a hit. It has an old-school, sci-fi charm. The music reminds me of an old-school platformer running on the GameBoy. It's a great backdrop to the for the gameplay, which is a fast-paced romp throughout Gato Roboto's expansive levels.
Running and Gunning in Gato Roboto
Kiki the cat is a fragile feline that will die in one hit from any source of damage. That's why you're mostly confined to a mechanical suit that upgrades periodically throughout this adventure. Some segments are too small for the suit to move through, so you can hop out of it and traverse and climb walls as Kiki. In one specific area of Gato Roboto, Kiki uses a submarine to navigate an area filled with underwater foes. Whether you're in the suit or submarine, or even crawling around corridors as just Kiki, movement feels great. The platforming is precise and satisfying. While I wished the level design felt a little less linear and had more verticality, each room comprises enough different platforming challenges and enemies that gameplay doesn't feel stale.
Your robotic suit has an arsenal of upgrades I mentioned before, all of which will help you advance into other areas later on. This is true to the Metroidvania formula. While the rockets and double jump are fun and satisfying to use, Gato Roboto plays it safe. There isn't anything I haven't seen before. No upgrade really wowed me, even though they are all useful and fun. A later upgrade allows you to phase through certain obstacles, but this is severely underused and never reached its full potential.
The Foes of Gato Roboto
As far as boss battles go, these are sparse and quite underwhelming. In my preview, I pointed out that bosses felt like bullet sponges. After beating Gato Roboto, I still stand by this statement. Most bosses feel like one-trick ponies too. Their attack patterns are predictable, requiring little in the way of forethought.
Boss battles were also frustrating while using Gato Roboto's keyboard control scheme. Unfortunately, there are no keybinding options, so it's best to resort to a controller. With aiming controlled by the arrow keys and buttons close together, it can be hard to get Kiki to do what you want to do. Rocket jumps become particularly hard with the keyboard controls. The controller played much better and I gained much more appreciation for the exceptional platforming.
Smaller enemies scattered throughout the levels are more enjoyable to fight. While you could run through most rooms without shooting a single enemy, there is a decent variety of foes to fight. Giant hives spawn bees that track you around. Spindly centipedes protrude from the ceiling or floor, making it dangerous to navigate environments. The last brief area of Gato Roboto had some enemies I hadn't seen prior but would have added to the experience if they appeared earlier. Later foes have more unique attack patterns and are visually more well-designed than earlier enemies, though none were disappointing.
Gato Roboto Review | Final Thoughts
Gato Roboto is a brief journey. I had experience with the game from my preview, so I was able to complete Gato Roboto in around two and a half hours. It's well-paced though, and it is a game that speedrunners will likely enjoy. There are even achievements for completing the adventure in under an hour or beating it without obtaining a health upgrade. These provide a nice amount of replayability while keeping things challenging.
If you're looking for a satisfying Metroidvania experience, Gato Roboto is a cute, fun choice. The gameplay doesn't do anything revolutionary for the genre but most everything Gato Roboto does, it does well. The boss battles and controls could use some work, but it doesn't ruin the experience by any means. Really, how could you say no to an adorable cat in a mechanized suit?
TechRaptor reviewed Gato Roboto on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
- Wonderful Art and Music
- Great Platforming
- Cool Enemy Variety
- Collectable Color Schemes
- Uninteresting Boss Battles
- Frustrating Keyboard Controls
- Relatively Linear Levels