There’s never been a better time to be a fan of metroidvania games like Dead Cells, Iconoclasts and the like. If you're all about the genre, there are too many games and not enough time to play them all. However, there’s a flipside to this.
If you’re a developer trying to stand out in an increasingly crowded genre, you really have to think outside the box. A cosmic-horror metroidvania? It’s been done. Metroidvania with Owls? Also done. Mexican wrestlers? Done.
Published by Devolver Digital and pitched as a CatMechtroidvania, Gato Roboto is a 2D platformer with a cute two-tone aesthetic, old-school level design and a protagonist as charming as they come.
The Purrfect Run
You play as the feline survivor of a spacecraft crash and have to find a way to save the ship's pilot (A.K.A. your owner) by navigating a neatly-segmented 2D overworld, collecting new abilities and taking down both legions of regular enemies and special boss enemies. It’s not super long, hard or memorable but if you are a fan of the genre, you’ll probably find something to latch onto here.
Even if the cutesy setup and quirky writing doesn’t win you over, Gato Roboto still holds its own as reasonably polished and well-designed entry in the genre. It feels like developer Doinksoft are doing a lot with a little here.
There are a few more-focused puzzle and combat-heavy sequences but, for the most part, the platforming takes the lead in Gato Roboto. You can jump out of your cat's mech suit at any time, and doing so allows for far greater mobility.
However, abandoning your armor also means becoming more vulnerable to enemies and losing the ability to fight back against them outright. Armored in your mech, you have a health bar. Without it, your furry protagonist can be felled in a single blow.
Some puzzles are solved using the suit. Others require your cat form. Others involve using a submarine. Which is which is usually obvious. Still, I kinda wish I had a bit more room to upgrade and customize my mech in Gato Roboto. As it stands, your primary form of advancement through is game was health upgrades. It would have been cool to kit out by robotic armor with different weapons or unique abilities.
Gato Roboto doles out a handful of new abilities over the course of the game but most of the boss fights boil down to spamming rockets, jumping (or dashing) to avoid incoming fire and then spamming rockets once more. Frustratingly, these encounters often oscillate between being a little too easy and a little trial and error. I kept thinking “surely, there’s a trick to this I’m just not seeing” only to find the "answer" was just 2-5 minutes of perfectly evading every attack the boss threw at me.
The Bottom Line
Though it’s a little shallow and the quirky premise never really takes off beyond being a punchline, Gato Roboto is still a pretty decent entry into the canon of modern metroidvania games. It’s not as ambitious as something like Hollow Knight and it oft-relies a little too much on novelty-value but it is a good fit for the Nintendo Switch.
If you’re after a decent romp that you can play on the go and isn’t too overwhelming of a time commitment, Gato Roboto might be worth chasing down.
Gato Roboto is available now on PC and Switch.