In a month that’s been flooded with strong AAA releases, Brisbane’s own Witch Beam snuck in the Xbox One release of Assault Android Cactus. After a successful launch on PC in 2015 and PS4 in 2016, the 2017 Xbox One release is one of the first titles to be optimised for the Xbox One X. It runs flawlessly at 4k with a solid frame of 60 fps even when the screen is filled with enemies and projectiles.
Assault Android Cactus’ intro cutscene does a wonderful job of setting up the main character and location, before the story is immediately dropped to the wayside as the core gameplay becomes the center focus of the experience, which it rightfully should be. Waves of enemies are a constant threat and should be your focus, however each map has the potential to shift and change under your feet, constantly changing throughout matches. Unlike most twin stick shooters that rely on a looming timer or limited health to cause a sense of urgency, Assault Android Cactus uses a battery mechanic that has you scurrying to kill enough mobs or get a boss’s health low enough for a recharge to drop.
While the core twin stick mechanics are easy to pick up, the real challenge comes from balancing the constant movement with which enemies to focus your fire on. Each character has unique primary and secondary weapon skills which give them each a different feel in most situations; these are also handy when dealing with certain bosses or waves of enemies. While you start out with an assault weapon and flame thrower on Cactus, switching to Shiitake with a railgun and propeller mine can change your play style drastically. Learning when to use the secondary skill can cause a massive difference when going for high-scores which adds to the games longevity and replay-ability.
Mastering each character adds to the longevity as you work through the Main Campaign, Infinity Drive with its endless waves of enemies, Daily Drive which gives you a random encounter every day, or Boss Rush which provides a chance to fight all the game bosses back to back. All game modes have four player co-op and online leader board rankings.
Considering that Assault Android Cactus is developed by a very small team, it has outstanding character models, voice acting, and exceptional music. While each character is only really shown off in character selection, they each have a distinctly different visual style that goes with their very individual play style.
Assault Android Cactus provides solid gameplay with an awesome art style and amazing music. The individuality of each characters play style and the daily missions provide a constant reason to return to the game. Despite being such a small team, Witch Beam have outdone themselves with Assault Android Cactus.