Can deep water exploration as a cat possibly be more furr-tastic and wacky? Tikipod wants you to know that it can with its sequel to Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender DX, Astro Aqua Kitty.

Recently enhanced to take advantage of the PS5, Astro Aqua Kitty improves and expands on the original arcade shooter in every single aspect. In fact, the developer, just like its risk taking protagonists, has dared to venture and create something more than just an arcade shooter. Indeed, this game goes above and beyond by sprinkling in RPG systems and Metroidvania-esque elements.

In order to start your journey, you'll need to pick one pilot and one engineer. Each one has different stats that will determine your playstyle, forcing you to strategise before heading blindly into your mission. For instance, the four pilots, all of which are cats, have different statistical attributes, in which the 'Heavy' type has one of the highest percentages in armour but his speed pales in comparison to that of a 'Scout'.

Once aboard the ship, the fun continues. As mentioned before, the game takes a Metroidvania approach and incorporates RPG elements. There’s EXP to earn as you defeat enemies, as well as gems to collect to buy weapons and devices in the shop. Therefore, if you breeze through the game, then the challenge could become quite tough, as the title rewards those who are willing to take the time to upgrade their equipment.

One aspect that could improve, however, is the story. Obviously we didn't expect a narrative as deep as The Last of Us: Part II, but the few pieces of dialogue are mostly relegated to tutorial tips and hints. It would have been interesting to see the comrades exchange more dialogue and banter between them as it would help flesh out their personalities and give them a distinct voice besides their stat differences.

But ultimately Astro Aqua Kitty blasts its way to PS5 with panache. With its Metroidvania formula, light RPG elements, strong presentation, and slick retro synth music, this is an old-school outing that manages to also feel contemporary.