I had a sneaking suspicion that there was something off about a game with cats and flashing lights, and I was correct. PUSS! is a game that’s not for the faint or Christian, but in the age of Internet trolling, Nyan Cat, chocolate rain, and memes, this would appease a lot of modern gamers. I mean, there’s a three-headed cat shooting bullets out of its eyes as the first boss! And flashing lights! So much that the game has a seizure warning (so epileptic players, please try to avoid this game).
At its core, PUSS! is really a game for speedrunners or for those who like to show off their elite skills in dominating a ridiculously hard game. Advertised as an “avoid-em up,” you take control of a cat head of your choosing and go through a series of randomly generated levels. These levels, while short and simple as to follow a path to an exit, is not as easy as it sounds. You are faced with a lot of obstacles, whether they’re moving paths, avoiding bullets, standing on certain tiles to open up the area, and so on. It can be a lot, and more than likely, an average gamer (or those who are starting to feel through the game) will take the slow-but-steady approach.
However, PUSS! is not that kind of game. It’s meant to be fast, and while you’re punished by score reduction for taking your time all the time, there will be a lot of levels where losing a life is the punishment. Mind you, in the first 10 levels, you are given a couple or so levels that are easy, but if you’re unlucky, you’ll get a difficult level right after that will result in a game over. It only takes about two seconds of consistently touching a wall to lose a life; it only takes a millisecond of touch from bullets and other obstacles to instantly lose a life.
This is what annoys me about PUSS! It really relies a lot on luck than skill. You can get a series of easy levels (i.e., those without any bullets or obstacles that instantly take lives at least for me) or back-to-back levels of hard levels. Levels do recycle (which is what I found after replaying the tutorial/first world more than 50 times), so I can see how speedrunners can get familiarity with the game. I can also see, however, the average or casual gamer, will lose their patience quickly after dying over and over.
It also doesn’t help that the controls are finicky on PUSS! I was fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough to play this game on both the PC and Switch. Spoiler alert: our team played this game as a round on our current tournament for the PC, and for that, I was able to use my mouse to move around my cat. While using the mouse provides easier maneuvering of my cat, the issue I faced was the speed. You can go through the options screen to change the speed of the mouse, but there were some points where it was necessary to slow down the speed. It got annoying to go back and forth through the options screen to adjust.
You don’t have to go through the options screen to adjust the speed on the Switch, fortunately. Using one joystick to move will set it at its default slow speed, and using both joysticks will let you set the speed based on how tilted you have the sticks. Based on this, you might think playing this on the console is the best way to go, but let me ask you this: What if your Joy-Con has the dreadful drift issue? Yeah, not such a good idea now. Well, you could also play with your finger using the touchscreen, but I wouldn’t even recommend that, since your hand will most likely block the screen and lead you to failure.
So what’s fishy about this game? One word: demons. PUSS! disguises itself as a cute and flashy game about cats, but deep within the game lies some really devilish elements. At random times after losing all your lives, a really creepy and disturbing image pops out of the screen and will give you a few extra lives to continue on. I believe this is when the game is what you would call “corrupted.” I don’t know what triggers this, but for me, it seems to happen more when I’m facing a bad streak of levels.
However, even with Satan coming in a swooping to save me, I am confident to say that PUSS! is game I would recommend…buying on a sale. Unless you don’t mind dying a lot, relying on luck, demons, and cats (and not epileptic), then, by all means, pick this up and go to town.
This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.
Get Your Cat to the Exit as Quickly as Possible
+ Craziness appeals to modern games
– Reliance on luck will annoy average and casual gamers
– Controls are finicky on both the PC and consoles