Pushcat | Review

Push on a quest for victory and sweet, sweet coins.

Pushcat on PC

Block-pushing. It’s one of the oldest, simplest forms of game out there, with roots stretching back to the very foundation of electronic gaming. Pushcat is yet another entry in this storied genre, with some unique twists and elements that make it feel at home in the modern market. Still free of complex trappings and loaded with brain-bending puzzles, it presents an easy to play, but difficult to master equilibrium that’s the hallmark of any worthwhile puzzle game. But what’s so special about this indie gem that it deserves a look from veteran gamers?

Pushcat, like most block-pushing puzzle games, puts forth a simple premise and goal. In this case, players are tasked with pushing gems together to create lines of three — or more — which then transform into coins. These coins are the real meat of your goal in each level. Collecting enough of these will allow you to exit the level and move on. In most cases, a higher goal will also allow you to earn a star for the level, giving you a sense of accomplishment and emotional fulfilment. Typically, your only enemy is yourself; failing to be cautious will result in trapping the intrepid feline, forcing you to exit or restart the level.

Pushcat Core Exploit

Blocks, including gems, will naturally fall down if there’s nothing to support them. Particularly treacherous levels will have no floor, meaning you’ll have to be extra careful where you dig.

In addition to the gems that are your primary source of coins, Pushcat offers a variety of blocks and other elements to keep things interesting. Dirt that can be dug to create paths makes up a lot of the space in early levels, while latter puzzles will focus on crystals, bomb-like circuit constructs, and more. The mix of different blocks that you’ll have to work with help to keep things interesting, and time-sensitive levels will keep the pace moving if you have any hope of succeeding. Coins are subject to pushing and falling, as well, meaning you’ll want to be sure you don’t force them into unreachable areas.

Pushcat Block Varieties

A healthy mix of block types and rule-bending horizontal edges keep the play fresh as you delve further into the game’s many levels and puzzles.

What Pushcat does well, it does very well. The variety and level design are top-notch for any indie puzzler, and the supporting chiptune soundtrack is a great addition. Unfortunately, some less than responsive controls can bog the experience down, and it’s frustrating having to replay a level after a single misstep taken between victory and the loftier star requirements. Still, since restarting isn’t a difficult affair and most of the puzzles are pretty simple once you’ve sorted out the trick, it doesn’t hold up play too badly.

Pushcat Rocky Horror Ghost

Your own mistakes aren’t the only thing you’ll have to worry about along the way, and this fearsome ghoul wants nothing more than to send you to an untimely demise.

All told, Pushcat presents a very well-polished design and some rather creative, outside-the-box puzzles that can keep the play interesting even without mechanical complexity. With a random element to each level making each attempt a little bit different, there’s more than enough here to justify the $4.99 price on Steam ($3.99 on Desura). While I wouldn’t say it’s breaking new ground or creating anything that’s wholly unique, the fresh take on one of gaming’s most storied genres is something I always enjoy. For puzzle game fans out there, I’d recommend at least giving the free demo — available through Desura — a shot.

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