Once upon a time, I won the game Cashtronauts on a super awesome giveaway by Gamerwife. As I was too distracted by MMOs (story of my life) I must admit that it stayed dormant in my Steam library for a while (bad Rav!) until I finally got to try it out. Here's the verdict by an absolutely clueless gamer girl.
Type: Indie game
Company: Simon Prefontaine
Platform: PC, Steam
Price: 7,99 euro
Release date: 1 september 2016*
When I fired it up, I had no idea what the game was about. Of course, I could have read the description on Steam or watched a video beforehand, but I like going in blind. Turns out Cashtronauts has no tutorial whatsoever; you just get thrown in. And that seems to be the main attraction of it: prodding things, see what happens. I guess the following picture sums up the Cashtronaut experience pretty well:
The tiny pink vessel on the picture above is your starter ship.
Collecting moneeeeeeey. Why? You need it for unlocking risks and new ships, and playing around with them. There are other things, too, like upgrades that you can pickup and install, that I didn't find out about until recently. I wouldn't be surprised if there is more to discover. The ultimate goal? Nothing that I've discovered so far. It's a more about the road than the destination kinda thing. The charm of the game lies in the explorative and messing around part - and in the arcade nostalgia vibe.
I fondly remember the eureka moment when I found this place that wanted my crystals
Cashtronauts is played in a top-down 2D view, in which you use simple arrow or keyboard keys to move your ship around in space. As the game has no map, compass or any sort of area overview, you'll have to remember your position compared to a select few landmarks in the center and their border in order to orient yourself. At the start nooby Rav kept getting lost in outer space and eventually blown to bits by predator ships as I ran out of fuel! This made me come to the realization that knowing how to get back to the safe "center of space" is a vital ability. After a few play sessions, though, I developed a feeling for direction and distance. Eventually, I came to appreciate the absence of in-game navigation methods as an extra something to keep you on your toes.
In true spirit of arcade games, Cashtronauts' shooting is a bit awkward, as it can be quite hard to hit something while moving about. Luckily, the same can be said about the enemy vessels, so you'll be able to avoid getting hit most times if you take care. One thing that I absolutely love is that the environment can be used in a cunning way. In my first play session, before I found out you can actually shoot by clicking the mouse - did I mention I'm a noob? - I tremendously enjoyed tricking enemy ships into blowing up mineral-rich asteroids or cash vaults by hiding behind them, then gathering the rewards while avoiding their fire. Ha!
ConclusionsOverall, Cashtronauts is a fun little game. It didn't keep me glued to the screen for hours, but what it has going for it is that it's easy to jump in and out of: it doesn't take any time at all to load and you can start and stop any time you like. I've done four play sessions for various amounts of time (70 minutes in total), and I managed to unlock all four different ships already.
A lot of the fun from the game comes from trying out different combinations of ships and risks, and I've certainly only have briefly touched upon that. I imagine that once you have tried everything it probably gets old quickly, but it will take a while until you get there.
Another positive thing is that the game doesn't require an internet connection. However, I noticed that my progress wasn't saved until I was reconnected, denying me access to my newest unlocked ship, so it's not perfect.
Also, gaming-impaired readers rejoice:
The good thing about low population Indie-games is that even Rav-noobs make it to the top 3!
To be completely honest, I would probably not have bought this game if I wouldn't have won it for free. I am an MMO and RPG gamer at heart and I tend to get bored by games of this type quite easily. 8 Euros isn't a totally negligible amount, and I'm missing out on the nostalgia sentiment because I'm too young to have experienced arcade games. But for people who like exploring, are prone to "let's see what happens if I..." and feel that nostalgia vibe, it is a more than decent game.
What I would really have loved, though, is if Cashtronauts would have been a mobile phone game - and then with those lovely awkward buttons that you used to have back in the day before they had touch screens. It reminds me of a game I used to play on my friends' Nokia, and I would definitely play it more there than on my gaming laptop, where it has a lot of competition from more complex games. /pipe dream
Oh, and finally, I absolutely LOVE the sound track. Without it, it would feel like aimless gathering and shooting - okay, let's face it, it still is - but, hey, at least you feel cool while doing so. There's definitely a specific charm about Cashtronauts.
* Yes, apparently I could've played it a year before release! I don't care enough about these things.