If you want to create a cool character, put them in an eyepatch. It’s foolproof. The main character is a ginger cat with a crossbow, which is fine and all, but it’s the eyepatch that really ties the look together.
Aside from the effortlessly cool main character, the rest of Catacomb Master is by the numbers. It’s a budget puzzle-platformer that will last you barely more than an hour, scattering its achievements like confetti in the opening few levels. Nothing about it is new or particularly interesting, but it does us the courtesy of presenting the same-old-same-old rather well.
There’s no story, so you’re left guessing about what’s happening. We’d suggest that Eyepatch Cat is in it for the spoils, and is the Catacomb Master of the title. They’re raiding a dungeon for gems, but that puts them on a direct course with a dragon, giant and ghost (the game’s bosses), as well as 42 levels of platform-puzzling.
Eyepatch Cat has some moves to help them complete this mission. They can perform that puzzle-platformer staple, the block-push, creating platforms and ridding paths of blockages. More importantly, they have a crossbow, and the weapon is a Swiss Army knife in terms of what it can do. It can kill worms, bats and deathknights in one or two shots; it can lodge bolts into walls that give you a helpful leg-up; and it can cut ropes, causing pushable blocks to fall from the sky. It’s critical for completing each level.
The aim is to reach the door, which brings you to the next of the 42 levels. Confusingly, the door looks identical to the one you step out from, so keep an eye on that. If you’re not paying attention, it’s possible to forget which door you’re aiming for. Reaching the door is all that Catacomb Master demands from you: there are no collectibles to collect or sub-objectives. Just get to the exit.
The levels aren’t hugely challenging. Little nubbins on the floor stop you from pushing blocks where they shouldn’t be pushed, reducing the number of ways you can fail. Enemies are mostly killed by a single bolt. And everything fits on a single-screen, leaving you few opportunities to get stuck or order things incorrectly. If you wanted a test from Catacomb Master, then you won’t get it. You’ll have to treat this as a mental warm-up, a leisurely jog for your grey matter, rather than something that has you reaching for a walkthrough video.
The difficulty graph takes a slight jolt upward when it comes to the bosses, which also represent the few moments where Catacomb Master innovates. Because the bosses aren’t a single level: they’re several. They preside over a sequence of three or four levels, tossing obstacles in your way as you try to go about your business. Considering they are dragons, giants and ghosts, they are no more than nuisances, but they do make you think about more than one thing at once.
The dragon slides side to side, dropping down fireballs, while the giant slams the floor, causing rocks to fall. Meanwhile, you’re shuffling the same blocks and forming the same paths to the exit. To be honest, we found these levels quite endearing. Sure, if Skyrim’s dragons were as easy as the ones in Catacomb Master, we’d have died a whole lot less. But the idea of a boss supervising several levels, rather than one, and basically being the Donkey Kong at the top of the level, is a neat one.
And the levels are carefully designed. While they echo other puzzle-platformers that we’ve played in the past, there is the odd layout that we admire. It might be a precise shot that’s needed to sever a rope, or a solution that required us to work the corners of the room. It’s very capable, which sounds like a back-handed compliment but we mean it nicely.
For £4.19, Catacomb Master is not a bad deal. You get one, maybe two hours of leisurely platforming and puzzle-solving, with 1000 Gamerscore in your pocket before you’ve gotten comfortable on the sofa. It won’t offer anything close to a challenge, but as long as you’ve mentally calibrated for how easy it is, then we’d be surprised if you regretted buying it. Plus you get to spend some time with Eyepatch Cat.