Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is the newest game series from Way Forward. Originally the game was started as an April Fools joke a couple years back. Based on the overwhelming positive community reception to the joke, the game was made a reality thanks to Humble Bundle. The game is only available via Humble Monthly, a monthly “loot crate” type program to receive numerous games. So how does this genre mash-up play? Let’s delve into the review galaxy and find out.
Full disclosure: James Montagna, who has worked on this game, has been interviewed by Source Gaming in the past. The game was purchased using personal funds. I’ve completed the game (all three bounties).
Minor spoilers below.
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche stars Kebako, and her friend / partner, ‘Squiddie’. Kebako is a simple-minded but amazing at everything (even if she forgets about it) cat space bounty hunter. Throughout the game she will need to collect bounties on criminals who are causing destruction across the various galaxies. Players will visit the Radical, RPG and Kawaii Galaxies in this first game.
The levels have their own episode, and even though there are only three galaxies, the plot feels a little formulaic by the end of the third act. Essentially, Kebako gets a bounty…she doesn’t remember the criminal…some random humor is interjected…it’s revealed that the criminal and Kebako have some sort of history together…and they fight. That’s the basic plot points of the three levels. For the next game in the Cat Girl Without Salad series, my biggest suggestion would be to mix up the story a little bit more.
The game plays on rails. There is scripted conversations going on throughout the entire game, and that’s a major part of the appeal for the game. One of the major drawbacks to Cat Girl Without Salad is that if the player loses a life in the middle of the level, the game will restart from the very beginning of that stage. Luckily, the game is pretty forgiven with the amount of health items dropped. I do wish there was more dialogue mix up while replaying the level, or the option to disable it (or at the very least until it gets to the new dialogue). Adding those options would make replaying the game a bit more enjoyable.
That being said, the story is a huge draw for Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche. Players will definitely enjoy the humor. In my opinion, the game is just not well suited for multiple playthroughs. Each episode lasts about ten minutes, so the three episodes will take players about thirty to forty minutes to complete.
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is a shoot ‘em up game at it’s core. The genre mash up shines through the variety of weapons that can be obtained and used. Often referencing classic video games (as with a lot of Way Forward games), the weapons have a huge impact on the way the game is played.
There are the “Platforming”, “Puzzle”, “RPG”, “Dance”, “Arcade”, and the “Pea” guns. The control for each weapon is unique and interesting. For example, the Platformer Gun shoots out a character that can be jumped using any of the attack buttons (the arrow keys). Jumping on enemies leads to a more damage.The RPG Gun on the other hand makes players choose between Attack, Magic, Heal and Run. Understanding how each gun works, and how to unleash the most amount of damage is required and part of the fun.
Admittedly, some weapons are very difficult to use. The “Dance Gun” in particular needs to be buffed in my opinion. It’s difficult to get a rhythm when it doesn’t match the in-game music. Trying to line up shots while matching the key presses is a bit frustrating. I also wish the “Pea Gun” had multiple shooting properties (or at least an option to shoot backwards) as it’s incredibly weak. In boss fights, losing the powerup weapon early on and having to rely on the Pea Gun early is very punishing.
The boss fights are well done, and interesting. I found the first boss fight to be the most difficult one of the three. I particularly enjoyed the last boss battle for reasons I will explain in a spoiler.
I do wish there were additional guns, or even mixing up the gameplay even more. It’d be great if there was a dungeon crawler level, or a full on platforming level. Of course, that would make programming the game even more difficult but it’d be a way to further explore the genre mashup genre. I thought mixing genres through the weapons was a great idea, it just needs to be explored more (perhaps in the inevitable sequel?).
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is very well polished. The script, enemy names and references in the game are very satisfying. I really enjoyed the quirky humor that the game has, such as, “Pressing Any Button” and having a button with “Any” on the screen. The controls are relatively simple, and the game is laid out in a very easy to understand way.
After completing the game, players can have an option to replay the levels while cycling through weapons. Furthermore, as players complete levels, Kebako will gain an additional heart. It’s a good reward, but it doesn’t entice players to replay the game that much. Online leaderboards could help if the game is ever re-released.
I think a lot of people will enjoy this game for what it is. It’s an interesting concept, and it plays well enough. The game is a little short, and lacks real incentive to replay it/ master it. However, that being said, the presentation is solid, and the gameplay is fun. I’d suggest people on the fence of this game to watch a little bit of the first level, and judge for themselves. I wouldn’t recommend watching more, as part of the charm of the game would be ruined by watching a full playthrough. Considering the price of this game (or I should say the bundle), I would recommend people to pick up this game — if they could. It’s too late now! Additional episodes might be planned for future Humble Monthly‘s, so keep an eye out.