Cats are Liquid Review

Cats are Liquid controls well but lacks innovative gameplay

First Impression

What immediately struck me about Cats are Liquid was the perfect control mechanisms. Most platformers I play have their individual quirks that you have to get used to at the start of the game such as a slightly delayed jump or unusual movements. As soon as I climbed up a wall (with controller) it just felt right and natural, the jumping and floating had exactly the right amount of speed and responsiveness, it was a joy to play in that respect.

Overview

You are a ‘cat’ navigating a maze of physics obstacles. Your movement is like that of a water-filled balloon, hence the ‘liquid’ in the title. You can ooze through tiny gaps, hop up high vertical walls and float up/along as a gas cloud. Later in the game you can use bombs to break walls or release and control a square on a time limit to move ahead and unlock a passage for the cat. You play as only the square in the Companion levels, under time constraints.

A couple of hours after playing it I can’t even remember what the background music was like, it was so unobtrusive, which is a good thing. Likewise the graphics are minimalistic and functional, nothing wrong with that. There’s a loose story written in the background based on the cat being trapped and complaining about the prolonged journey (she has a point!)

The “90+30 levels” claim is a bit cheeky, it’s actually 9+3 levels each with 9 waypoints where your 3 lives are topped up (or time reset).

Cats are Liquid

Cats are Liquid is a bit cheeky

Glitches

From the levels menu the escape key doesn’t work so you have to start a level and exit from there in order to close the game. Took a while to work that one out.

On completion of both Standard and Companion the screen fades to black and everything becomes unresponsive so the only way you can get out is by forcefully crashing the game. Perhaps this is intentionally consistent with the storyline, who knows!

I’ve definitely completed Companion because I reached the end credits but 22/30 of the levels remain locked. I’ve repeated many levels (by starting at the last unlocked level) to double-check but no, still locked.

I’m on Linux if that makes a difference. Maybe if the developer reads this review the bugs will be fixed by the time you read it. None of it affects the actual gameplay anyway.

Gameplay Opinion

Experienced platform players should be able to complete the game in their sleep with very few retries – for much of Standard you can effortlessly float past most obstacles. The Companion levels have time constraints but are also easy.

The consistency of the game mechanics unfortunately extends to the predictable, monotonous gameplay and many of the levels are identical but played with different abilities. There is no innovation here, just the usual elements you’ve seen in countless other platformers.

I completed Standard in 4 hours and Companion in 1 at medium pace. I may attempt the 2 clean-run achievements later to 100% it but probably not. I’d say the quantity of gameplay is very good value for the price.

Achievements

These entail completing each level and then playing the whole thing again in a perfect uninterrupted run. Pretty unimaginative, but then again there are no remarkable gameplay features to warrant an interesting achievement. I still don’t have the ‘Always There’ achievement so I don’t know what it is. I’m happy it has achievements at all anyway, and the developer has just said he’s considering trading cards in future.

Verdict

Most of this review may seem negative but that’s not the case at all. I did enjoy this, it’s just that lately I’ve been playing very challenging and unique physics games like Portal, Nihilumbra and Metamorphic, so this seemed pedestrian by comparison. If it’s a casual experience you’re after then I highly recommend this, especially at the rock-bottom price. It’s like a mass-produced Japanese car: well-built, familiar and comfortable but rather bland.

Good

  • Fun, casual platform puzzler
  • Well presented with minimalistic colourful shapes

Bad

  • Unimaginative, predictable level designs - I've seen it all before
  • Large sections can be bypassed using the float mechanic
6.8

Fair