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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Assault Android Cactus - Twin Stick Shooter Brilliance

This is a review on an early release Steam title. The product played is in pre-Alpha build and will change throughout its development. As it evolves, this review will as well. Stay tuned for updates and a final, final review once the full game has been released.

I hadn't heard of Assault Android Cactus until a fellow blogger forwarded me an email they had received. The title of his email: The Entire Cast is Chicks... Finally! I opened the email, clicked the link inside, and was brought to, a webpage full of beautiful art and glowing personalities.

I was instantly hooked.

Flash forward a few months and I'm playing Assault Android Cactus live on Twitch TV with Sanatana Mishra, the man behind the major programming. I was hooked to say the least. I needed to know more about the game. About the motives behind it and the inspirations drawn from.

You see, Assault Android Cactus isn't just a flawless twin-stick shooter. It's proof that the industry is finally evolving into something bigger and better than itself. It's evidence that all the articles written and speeches given about the lack of female representation in the industry needing to improve aren't falling on deaf ears. That change is slowly happening, we just have to look in the right places.

It's also proof that an all female cast of space cops can be completely badass. Even more than all men if you ask me. Currently you can play as six characters - four to start and two to unlock. Each of them with their own special weapons, abilities, and narratives. It's not just their physical appearances that separate them either. You'll have to experiment with each character to find the perfect fit for you. There's a ton of strategy to conquering each level, especially if you want to do it the right way (S+ babay!).

Let's take Cactus for example. The female lead if you will. Her primary weapon is "Assault" - a linear rifle with incredible power, though difficult at times to correctly aim. Her secondary is a Flamethrower, powerful up close but can put you in harms way. Then there's Holly, equipped with Seeker missiles and a Cannonball. She's great for hordes of enemies, especially with her Cannonball. She can however find herself in trouble with stronger foes.

Lemon is my personal favorite, equipped with Spreadshot and Rockets. Use her Spreadshot to rid of smaller enemies quickly while unleashing her Rockets on larger enemies and you'll rack up multipliers like it's going out of style. Coral is the final of the original four but certainly not one to mess with. She has a Shotgun and a Plasma Field, surrounding her in a bug zapper of sorts. She's great for levels with hordes of enemies. Just set the Plasma Field down, make a sandwich, and watch your enemies suffer.

They are all so different and present varying strategies that you can easily find yourself playing for hours on end with one character before realizing that you're in the wrong relationship. I was lucky to find Lemon almost immediately and haven't looked back. Although I did unlock Aubergine and her Helo primary with Singularity secondary is whispering in my ear.

Like I mentioned before, Assault Android Cactus is in pre-Alpha. It's no where near complete (2-3 months or so until retail they are hoping) and yet it's already full of personality. I hate to draw comparisons between games, but I'm going to anyway... I am enjoying this more than Resogun, and that's saying a lot.

You can currently buy Assault Android Cactus on Steam for $15 or try the demo for free. I can't recommend a purchase enough.

I'll be uploading the Twitch TV interview later this afternoon.
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