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My Cat Vs. Zombies Ep I (Xbox 360) artwork

My Cat Vs. Zombies Ep I (Xbox 360) review

"Not great, but still far more fun than paying attention to gamer-type people yell at and snark at each other on Twitter!"

Since I tend to get the feeling that my cat secretly hates me because my work and social lives are both busy enough to keep me away from home, therefore depriving him of a lap to sleep on at all times, I figured that it was time for a bit old-fashioned human-pet bonding recently.

And so I downloaded My Cat vs. Zombies Ep I for my 360, since with Ebola, GamerGate, StopGamerGate and all these other bizarre trends overwhelming the world now, it's probably only a matter of time before all humanity has devolved into mindless zombies. Hell, just from reading Twitter daily, I'm thinking it's already started, so my pet needs to quickly learn how to cope in a world where, instead of slavishly feeding him, I'm looking at him as food.

Apparently my fat fur-friend's path to survival is simple. Find a sewer system populated by other cats (a species which, according to the game, is immune to being zombified), learn how to handle various firearms and get in good with local catnip smugglers with his uncanny ability to survive hordes of hungry undead while delivering the contraband to tweaking felines. That's the sort of lifestyle I can appreciate and respect, so I was eager to use what might be my last days as a living human to impart all my knowledge of violence and the drug trade. In response, he jumped on my lap and got comfortable. It was time.

The only problem was that I was the only one of us interested in what I was doing. My cat ignored all the zombie-shooting proceedings to stretch out into a position that looked horridly uncomfortable before falling into a deep coma. Fortunately, I gleaned enough knowledge that I can leave it in the form of this review for him to read later, since I feel that if he can learn to fire a bunch of different guns, picking up the English language and overcoming his current illiteracy should be child's play.

I hope My Cat vs. Zombies Ep I leads to more episodes, as this game is the perfect example of a reasonably solid first effort that still has a good amount of room for improvement. As you might have gleaned from the opening paragraphs, you'll be in control of a gun-toting cat traversing zombie-infested sewers. The game utilizes a top-down perspective, with the left analog stick controlling the cat, the right one aiming his gun in whatever direction the zombies are coming from and the right trigger being used for shooting. Other buttons are used for accessing your inventory and map, switching guns and chomping health-restoring tuna fish. Everything is simple and intuitive, which makes playing easy, but also left my brain free enough to notice just how barren things are once you strip away the bullets and zombies.

Essentially, all you'll be doing is making it from save point to save point, occasionally stopping to buy more ammo from merchant cats spread throughout the sewers. There are a tiny handful of cats who direct you down the game's…uh…plot, which involves catnip smugglers with a surprise visit from an undercover cop cat livening things up as you near the end. But most of the game is you, seemingly-endless corridors and a seemingly-infinite number of zombies to shoot, as you run around looking for caches of treasure containing ammo, money and tuna cans.

For most of the game, you'll encounter three colors of zombie. White ones are essentially cannon fodder, running towards you slowly enough to easily be blasted. Red undead are the same, except they move a good bit faster and can run down your cat if given the opportunity. The green ones are more worrisome, as while the first two types can only damage you by physical contact, they are constantly shooting some sort of damaging projectile and putting you under fire before they've even appeared on the screen. As you gradually progress from left to right along the map, these guys get more and more common.

At least until you've made it far enough along to find this game's "super-zombie". They are larger than the others, have spike-covered arms, take a ton of damage and boast both the speed of the red zombies and the projectiles of the green ones. Fortunately, around the time you start regularly encountering them, you'll also get access to merchants peddling automatic weapons. Go up against a couple of these guys with the regular shotgun and you can probably count on downing a few tuna cans before getting out of that fight. Bring along the automatic shotgun, on the other hand, and you'll be able to clear them out a lot more efficiently. When you consider the final areas of the game are loaded with the "super-zombies" and you even get a quest requiring you to dispatch 25 of them, those automatic weapons became necessary for me.

And, well, that's pretty much it. My Cat vs. Zombies Ep I is nothing more than a fairly short "dumb fun" game, although the foundation is there for potential future episodes to be much more. I'd start with the sewer design. Not only are the backgrounds repetitive as you go from corridor to room and then to another corridor leading to another room and so on, it's possible to use them to dilute the difficulty of what is a pretty easy game without any tricks. There are a lot of narrow corridors (vents?) zombies can't enter that lead to rooms with merchant cats and save points. That's nice and all, except for how you can lure zombies over to these vents, enter one, stick the tip of your gun outside and kill all the undead without any risk whatsoever.

That was just one reason why, while I enjoyed playing this game, it needs more to become something other than a short-term diversion to be played and discarded.

More needs to be done with its "perk" system. There are light RPG elements to My Cat vs. Zombies Ep I, as you gain experience for killing zombies and can acquire perks every time you gain a level. These perks are: more health, more overall attack and more attack with each of the four gun types. I'd acquired all of them, even the ones for gun types I never used, before I reached the end of the game.

More needs to be done to spruce up its world, as a constant array of rooms and corridors that all look the same gets boring after a while. More so when you consider there are only a few merchants and quest-givers, meaning that 99% of this game is nothing but one zombie after another. By the end, the repetition was tiresome. When I started this game and looked at its map, I envisioned some grand "Metroidvania" sort of thing. After realizing there were no secrets and only a few other cats to interact with (barely any if you remove merchants from the equation), I was more interested in just finishing it than actually exploring every bit of the sewers. There was no point to that, especially after getting all the perks and having no need, beyond simple survival, to hunt down and kill zombies that were taking more and more firepower to put down.

Still, while more needs to be done to make potential future episodes something better than a mere short-term diversion, I can't be too hard on this game. It avoids disgusting gamers with a reliance on "I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER" cat memes to instead deliver a simple top-down shooter with intuitive controls that provided a decent amount of entertainment for a mere $1. I just wish my lazy, lap-loving cat had enough of a self-preservation instinct to share more of an interest in the subject matter. I mean, have you been on social media lately? Between the pretentious twits and angry half-wits, zombies (of some sort) must already be here and he still can't even aim a pistol, let alone a shotgun!


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 17, 2014)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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