I love animals. I don’t know where it comes from. Maybe this trait comes from raising all sorts of different animals over the years. Or maybe it’s due to my astrological sign (Sagittarius) — if you believe in such things. So how does it this explain why I like LaserCat so much? I don’t know. I do know is that it is a solid exploration platform that needs to be checked out if you like death traps.
LaserCat follows a feline who happens to be made out of a laser. Anyway, his best friend Owl gets kidnapped by an evil toad and hides 30 keys throughout his master’s castle for LaserCat to find. So like any good kitty, he goes off to save his friend.
While the game lacks a solid narrative, the gameplay more than makes up for it. Each room in the castle is a miniature puzzle that requires you to move LaserCat safely across the many hazards (lava, enemies, conveyer belts and moving platforms). As mentioned, the goal is to find the hidden keys. But there’s a catch: You have to answer a question successfully. Failure is not an option as it’ll send LaserCat into a pool of lava and then send him back to his last save point. You can collect as many keys as you would like, but you lose them all if an enemy hits him or if he falls into lava. So banking those keys as you get them is not a bad idea. Best of all, getting around the castle is not that painful as LaserCat can warp between save points. Just don’t expect the automap to fill in a lot of detail.
Control wise, the game is downright simple. You only need the left and right arrow keys for movement, the space bar to jump and the control key to drop down through hollow platforms. The game is quite responsive, and I never felt like my mistakes were due to the controls.
Graphically, the game channels 8-bit retro combined with trippy visual backgrounds. Every time LaserCat moves into a different room, the palette changes. The thing is, it is never disorienting nor does it hide the various enemies such as robots, floating birthday cakes and odd lava monsters (to name a few). Air vents flow upwards while lava has little bubbles rising above it. Yet LaserCat himself seems to have the smallest moveset as he “bounces” across the screen. This doesn’t bother me, though players who are spoiled by games with greater details will probably dislike it.
Sound design wise, the game has a bubbly techno feel to it. Drums clap together, synthetic instruments quickly move across the scales with electronic noises playing the melody. It isn’t a bad soundtrack at all, even though there are only three songs that play one after the other. They aren’t very catchy, just fun to hear. On the plus side, LaserCat has a cute little “juuummp” to his hops.
So is LaserCat worth your time and money? I would say “yes.” For two bucks, you get a large castle to explore and a kitty to control. The downside is that the game only lasts two or so hours the first time you play and gets shorter with each playthrough. But there’s no denying how polished this game is. And for something that lasts a rainy afternoon, there’s nothing more comforting or relaxing than watching a cat save a bird.