Review – PUSS! (Switch)
As I’m sitting here reflecting about PUSS!, I keep coming back to one question: “What the hell did I just play?”. Honestly, this may be the most basic, yet bizarre game I have ever played. I suppose this is the feeling that TeamCoil was going for with PUSS!, so, well done? However, being strange and out there isn’t enough alone to make things enjoyable. There needs to be a decent gameplay hook. That being said, is PUSS! any fun to play?
If I told you what the story was about in PUSS! I’d be lying my ass off. There does seem to be something weird going on with an ancient prophecy, but that’s all I can tell you. The game starts off a bit like Poltergeist where the protagonist, a cat, gets sucked up into a TV. From here, the absolute nonsense begins with psychedelic visuals, and even a boss fight with a chihuahua head.
Gameplay is simple: essentially you’ll just be guiding a cat head through linear paths to reach the end portal. Of course the paths will have numerous amounts of obstacles to make it harder, but the goal is to get the cat head from “Point A to Point B”. The paths will be moving, shrinking, disappearing, revealed after a button press, covered with various objects flying around, and more. The appeal of PUSS! is more so in its wacky visuals and level designs more so than the gameplay itself.
Controlling the cat through the drug induced levels isn’t exactly the easiest of tasks, and not only because of the various obstacles. When PUSS! first released it made its way to PC where the control scheme made a lot more sense. You use your mouse to click and hold the cat head while you guide it through the paths. Areas that required you to move very quickly were simply done by moving the mouse quick. These actions are simple with a mouse. However, this isn’t so simple with Joy-Cons.
Joystick movement works well enough, but it’s set at one speed. If you come to levels that require very fast movements you’ll need to use both joysticks together to boost. Unfortunately, I found the Joy-Cons a pain trying to keep both in sync together. Luckily, glancing against a boundary wall isn’t an instant death, but unwieldy controls make this game rage inducing. There is an option to use the Nintendo Switch’s touch screen, but the movement here is completely broken. The cat’s acceleration is so fast that a slight drag on the screen sends the poor pussy cat flying to its static doom.
By and large the most appealing thing, and it’s likely the thing that got you to even check it out, is its visuals. PUSS! is an outright visual trip that would even make the Grateful Dead wonder what the hell the devs were on. For me, that is a compliment. I absolutely love the over the top ridiculousness of the visual design, and it’s the one element that even kept me going. Between the crazy cat cults, dolphins, moving sculptures, and a crap ton of background lights and designs, I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s hard to verbally describe the nonsense, so I’ll let one of the boss fights speak for me:
The sound design is unfortunately not up to par with the visuals. While it tries to match the visuals with strange synthesized 8-bit soundbites, it unfortunately comes off as dull. There is a lot of static and strange sounds, but the quality just isn’t quite there so it was more annoying rather than adding to the visual trip. When the sound design decides to step up the beat there is so much going on, paired with the low quality sound effects that it becomes a jumbled mess.
PUSS! is a lot of flash, but little substance. The visuals are a treat for the eyes and it will leave you bewildered and talking about it. Unfortunately, once the the shock of the ridiculous visuals wears off, you’re left with a pretty basic game. A basic game that doesn’t even play all that well on the Nintendo Switch platform. However, if you still want to give PUSS! a go, perhaps look into the PC version.
While the visuals aren’t as crisp and clean as I would like, the psychedelic art style is amusing. You’ll often wonder what the heck you just saw. TeamCoil nailed what they were going for.
PUSS! is frustrating and a lot comes down to its gameplay and controls. For the most part using the joysticks is doable, but needing to use both can be inaccurate. The touchscreen is basically unplayable.
Sound design is as strange as the visuals, but less amusing. A large use of static and low quality synthesized soundbites left my ears annoyed.
Fun Factor: 5.0
Once the initial visual wonder and psychedelic effects wears thin, there isn’t much left that is enjoyable here. Gameplay design is basic and utterly frustrating using joysticks.
Final Verdict: 6.0
PUSS! is available now on Android, iOS, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of PUSS! was provided by the publisher.