Developed and published by Digital Tentacle, Captain Cat brings you a light-hearted, single button puzzle adventure that, although far from deep, and even further from innovative, provides a fair bit of fun that should keep you entertained for an hour or two. The game doesn’t sport much in regards to a story, but then, given the nature and structure of play, this much is to be expected. That being said, the game is wide open as far as accessibility is concerned, making this one that’s suitable for the entire family, and just about any occasion.
Players take on the role of Captain Cat, a sea travelling feline that searches the vast ocean for his next meal. In order to satisfy his hunger, Captain Cat uses the anchor on his ship to reel in unsuspecting sea-life. That, ladies and gents, is about as interesting as the story gets. Nevertheless, with that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s included. Booting up the game takes you to a clean and concise menu. Here, you’re free to dive into the game’s main event; episodes, or, head on into its two additional game modes; perfect, and infinite.
The crux of play throughout all modes remains the same. You’ll start each level overlooking a body of water. Captain Cat arrives on his boat up top, and it falls to you to drop his anchor and then guide it underwater in an attempt to reach the fish that sits at the bottom. You’re free to position Captain Cat’s boat wherever you see fit before dropping its anchor, but once dropped, you’ll be unable to move the boat until you fail or restart the level from scratch. This, is pretty much the bulk sum of the game’s depth as far as its handling goes.
The game’s main levels are spread across a total of two episodes; waspfish, and house keeper. Much to be expected, you’ll need to earn a set amount of stars in the former before you can access the latter, but in truth, it’s relatively easy to achieve. The game starts out quite easy, giving you a decent learning curve to lean on whilst you bond with the fields of play. Once you drop your anchor, it will begin to constantly swing left to right. You’ll then need to press and hold the A button to extend its length in the direction that you desire.
You’re unable to move direction mid-turn, and will instead need to stop in your place should you wish to realign your direction. You’ll zigzag like this until you reach the fish at the bottom of the screen, in which once reached, you’ll reel it in and be rewarded the stars you’ve earned for that level. There’s three stars to earn per-level. You’ll get one for beating the level in the set time, one for collecting a set amount of coins that are scattered round each level, and finally, you’ll get one for completing the level using a set amount of moves.
Your points will also be charted at the end of each level, giving you some incentive to re-run levels to beat your high scores. There’s chests and score modifiers to pick up along the way, but honestly, I found little need to improve scoring or chase three-star ranks due to how it doesn’t feel particularly rewarding. The game does get a bit more complex later in. Starting out, you’ll maneuver a single screen as you drop to collect your fish, occasionally picking up an anchor power-up that allows you to penetrate walls that would otherwise break your line.
Later on in, however, you’ll need to contend with lengthier drops, vortex portals that transport your anchor to different parts of the level, jellyfish that steal your goods, eels that bite your line, and more besides. Whilst this tends to make things more difficult, it also makes things much more frustrating. Pretty much anything can break your line, which naturally spells failure and sends you back to the start. The issue is there doesn’t seem to be a consistent hit detection. I found my line breaking for reasons beyond my understanding.
Did I just graze that enemy fish that just broke my line? Surely not, I’d been swinging my anchor in the same spot for half a minute without penalty. Did that eel just bite my line? That cant be! I literally just dropped right past it without fault. These sorts of problems equate to cheap, unfair failures, which, although infrequent, can irritate beyond measure. Nevertheless, that’s how you’ll play the game. You’ll simply move from top to bottom, nab a fish, and sod off to the next level once you’re done. It’s very rinse and repeat throughout.
Because of that, the gameplay does run quite dry before long, ultimately making for a very boring and tedious affair once you’re halfway through. It would have been nice to see more puzzle elements thrown into the mix, but instead, the puzzle aspects of the game is relatively bare-bones. You’ll always know where to go, which route to take, and how to take it, making it much less puzzle-like, and much more reflex-based. Still, despite its drawbacks, the whole ordeal just about gets more right than it gets wrong. It’s a passable trek overall.
When you’re done with waspfish and house keeper, you’ll still have much to do elsewhere via the perfect mode, and the infinite mode. Playing perfect is quite similar to playing the main levels, being that you’ll have a collection of levels of varying difficulty, and will need to earn stars based on performance. The twist, however, is that you only have one move, and as such, you can only earn one star per-whack. It’s a very challenging mode that’s clearly built for those that want a more taxing experience, and although frustrating, it’s quite refined.
Levels in this mode gradually rise in complexity too, meaning that you’ll start out with some very basic level layouts, before moving through to the harsher designs. The infinite mode is self explanatory. Here, you’ll need to drop your anchor down as far as you can get it. That’s that. The kicker here, however, is that you’ll have piranha chasing you from the moment you drop the anchor, forcing you to move quickly and base decisions on reflex, rather than consideration. There’s some mechanics thrown in for good measure, such as the weight.
Picking up the weight will drop your anchor down to greater depths and at greater speed, disregarding any dangers along the way. This is a useful tool to rely on when you’re in a tight spot, but, outside of merely seeing how low you can go, there’s little else to do here. That, and I bumped into a few issues throughout. There’s the odd moment in which you’re met with some tough sections that require full-on precision and a lot of accuracy, which doesn’t really sit too well with the piranha pressure that ensues at a constant and frequent rate.
Further to that, I found I failed a few times for no good reason, other than what seemed to be a case of the game deciding I had got far enough. This can be a bit jarring when you’ve spent time in infinite and worked to get far down, only to have it all snatched from you for something out of your control. It’s a shame, really, because with a bit more refinement and some more consistency, this mode might have been worth the trouble it takes to “git gud”, so to speak. Whatever the case, there’s enough content included to justify the game’s cost.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Captain Cat just about gets a thumbs up for the former, and a thumbs down for the latter. The game’s visuals are sharp, well detailed, and at times, even vibrant, but, the game makes a nasty habit of recycling its assets far too much. The audio presentation, on the other hand, is by far the weakest link. Captain Cat has the most annoying soundtrack and the most frustrating cues of any game I’ve played of the same liking. So much so, I found myself muting it all within minutes. It’s really that irritating.
Captain Cat is a passable game at best. Whilst it’s accessible and does a good job at introducing new level mechanics at a decent rate, the game somewhat neglects its puzzle framework and tends to recycle its ideas far too frequently. Still, for its cheap cost, you’re getting plenty of content in return, it’s just a shame said content isn’t quite as gripping as it could have been, ultimately paving the way for repetition.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.