Published on July 29th, 2023 | by Chris O'Connor
Space Cats Tactics PC Review
Summary: An ambitious game possibly marred by production limitations.
I wanted to like Space Cats Tactics and in some ways I do… but in others it seemed to fall short of what I would have liked. I mean the premise is pretty cool, an RPG Space Opera with turn based tactical battles and cats.
Unfortunately there is a lack of unity to the game. From the start we get some visuals with the two main felines in full 3D rendered forms… but we are then presented with them as 2D drawn images. Some characters are voiced, some aren’t (given the questionable quality of the voice acting… perhaps it would have been better if none were voiced). The story itself is pretty minimal and questionable (why would cats of all animals be the choice to genetically engineer as warriors? Particularly house cats… at least go with the more wild felines). I did have a hard cringe when presented with a story segment that was ripped right out of Mass Effect… I mean don’t get me wrong, the scene/character it copies is cool… but here (thanks in no small part to the scribbled 2D art style) just seems like a poor fan art attempt at recreating that coolness.
But… there are some good elements here too. The ability to change your ships bonuses ie armour and shielding boosts etc is fun (thought pretty limited in options). The ability/need to move your crew to different stations in the ship in order to be able to use different attacks/facilities etc is pretty fun. The ship battles can be quite enjoyable too though it does have to be said that the AI is pretty poor as a simple tactic when you are out numbered is to position yourself so that an enemy ship lies between you and at least one other enemy ship. All enemies will fire at your ship if in range regardless of whether one of their fellow ships is in the line of fire. There are also some issues with objectives. I had one mission in which I needed to scan a wreckage… I did so and had some feedback from the crew… yet I still had an objective listed as scanning the wreckage… I attempted scanning different parts, different areas… nothing seemed to work. I have no doubt there is a section that had I scanned it would have registered… but there was no obvious way to tell which part/where to scan. A similar situation occurred in the final battle… targets seemed obvious at first but then it turned out there were other targets or other parts of targets that needed to be hit first. A bit too clunky for my liking.
Navigation is via hexagonal grid and can be a bit arduous when all you are doing is moving from a point you jumped into in a system to the nearest base. Wider travel is via the deceptively linear map… at first glance it looks like you will get to explore the system a bit… in actual fact you are really just going to be flying from point A to point B. The game also uses checkpoints which basically trigger when you fly to a new system/base etc. That sounds ok until you come across one section where you jump into an area… have to fly to the base (taking multiple turns to do so)… enter the base, have an essentially non interactive story element only to be sent out again and have to engage some enemies. That also doesn’t seem so bad until you then die and have to go back to flying into the base, trying to rapidly click through the conversation before you can finally get out and tackle the battle again… surely a checkpoint when you leave the base to find and engage the enemy would have been a better option?
Ultimately it is an impressive achievement from what seems to be essentially a one person developer (I say seems to be as I assume there were at least some other people helping with the voices). Is it fun… yes it certainly can be. Is it inconsistent in art style… absolutely. Is it worth buying… I’m honestly not sure. I completed the game in a bit over 6 hours… there might be some other choices I could make on the way… but it didn’t feel like they would make that much of a difference. If you can find it on a decent discount then perhaps grab a copy… otherwise keep track of the progress as there may be some updates to tackle some of the issues otherwise… maybe give it a miss.