Cat Cafe Manager
Developer: Roost Games
Publisher: Freedom Games
Genre(s): Simulation, Lifestyle, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 14/04/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Meowsic to my Ears
I first heard about Cat Cafe Manager when it appeared on my Twitter feed, instantly posting it in our ‘games to get codes for’ section of the RR Discord server. If you have read some of my previous reviews such as Calico, it’s no secret that I love cats! I also love a good sim game, so it seemed right up my street.
Mike worked his magic and soon enough a Nintendo Switch code for the game appeared. But was I feline good after playing through this title, or was it not as purrfect as I would have hoped? Let’s find out.
Catering for Caterwaul
A new opportunity awaits as your late grandmother leaves you her cafe in Caterwaul Way. As the name suggests, many stray cats wander the village and it’s your job to give them a place to stay, and eventually find their forever home. Not only this, your new venture will bring something different to the sleepy village and its human inhabitants. Though it seems you don’t have much of a choice, since a mysterious cat god wants you to appease them…
The overall story was simple but enjoyable; befriending the local villagers would reveal more about themselves, telling you more the stronger your relationship was. Each character had distinctive dialogue, and you also had choices in how to respond. They would also tell you about your grandmother, further developing the world. I really liked the mystical inclusion of the Grimalkin too, adding a hint of magic and excitement!
A Bit of a Pawsful
One of the main gameplay elements is appealing to the many cliques of people who live in Caterwaul. These include Punks, Witches and Fishermen. They all favour certain food and drink, but also provide you with different currency. For example, Witches give you Nectar which is used to buy ingredients and recipes, whereas Businesspeople pay with Gold to buy furniture. This is where the strategy aspect of the game comes into play.
You can choose who to advertise to in order to prioritise which currency you want. Most of the time I was desperate for Nectar, since ingredients are the most important part of running the cafe. Run out of a certain ingredient, and you can’t make any recipe that includes it. I found it difficult to stay on top of this, running out of Nectar quite often, having to resort to solely serving Witches to gather it back up. So, there’s definitely a level of challenge to Cat Cafe Manager that you’d find in other tycoon games where you have to balance your finances.
The best strategy, which I learned the hard way, is not to spend too much willy-nilly on recipes. Customers would ask for recipes I didn’t have, which made me panic and go buy them. However, it’s better off building your menu up slowly! I am definitely keen to start from scratch once I’ve finished this playthrough, and use what I’ve learned to have a better run.
Satisfying customers comes hand in hand with doing Shrine tasks, which pleases the Grimalkin. The shrine tasks unlock things such as food items, furniture sets, more staff slots and more chair slots. In particular, decorating and expanding your cafe is another key gameplay element. Certain people like certain furniture sets, with staff also having perks if being surrounded with sets such as the Diner set. Also, it meant being able to do sections with particular aesthetics, designing the cafe your own unique way.
Decorating the cafe was simple to do, clicking the cursor over a grid to place the floor, walls and furniture. Speaking of the controls, navigating your character around the cafe was straightforward. The minimal controls, using the joystick to walk around and then holding Y to interact, such as taking a customer’s order, is easy for anyone to pick up.
Of course, Cat Cafe Manager wouldn’t be complete without the cats. You can place lures of varying kinds to attract cats, then adopt them into the cafe. There weren’t just your usual moggies though, as some more expensive lures drew in some very strange beings… No matter what cat though, each had perks beneficial to running the place. Some acquired more currency from certain groups, or added stats to your cafe to appeal to customers.
The cat designs were varied as well as cute, going from orange tomcats to ghost-like felines. The look of the game in general was very appealing, the hand drawn illustration style oozing with charm. The characters you created relationships with were incredibly diverse, and there was great LGBTQ+ representation too. This was actually one of my favourite parts of the game, unravelling their stories which often overlapped with each other. The bits of audio for the characters, while small, breathed that extra bit of life into them too.
The soundtrack reminded me of the Sims, but though cheery and fitting with the game, it was just the same track playing over and over again. I would have liked to have a rotation of at least a few to prevent getting tired of having the music on. Otherwise, the cat meows and noises of the staff/customers helped create the cat cafe atmosphere.
Switching It Up
I played through Cat Cafe Manager on the Nintendo Switch, and the graphics were vibrant and clear both handheld and docked. The only time it looked a little less clear was when zooming right out to see your whole cafe, but this wasn’t too much of an issue since I played zoomed in most of the time. Unfortunately, the more I expanded my cafe and the more customers that came in, performance issues started to develop. The game would stutter frequently, the music cutting out for a split second and frames lagging. This less than smooth experience wasn’t game breaking but was an annoyance, and I’m wondering whether the PC version runs better.
I also had an issue where I could not refill two cat bowls, having to buy more and put the two away to remain useless in my inventory. Another glitch I saw was more graphical, where placing a floor design had these strange red squares which should have been from another part of the particular floor style. I tried redoing the floor and the squares would move. Though it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it’s frustrating to see them!
I very much enjoyed my time with Cat Cafe Manager, and I intend to keep going, which is a great sign. I even found myself neglecting this review by getting drawn into the game when I was meant to be writing about it! It is rather grindy, but the satisfaction is all in the development of the cafe. I loved learning about the characters, discovering all the different cats to adopt and designing the cafe in particular. Though challenging in balancing the finances, I like that I can now use what I’ve learned to improve.
However, the game is not perfect. The performance issues left a sour taste in my mouth, so it may run better on PC if you don’t mind sacrificing the portability. It was very tiresome listening to the same song too. I think some may not enjoy the repetitiveness, as the general gameplay of serving customers is quite samey.
Overall, Cat Cafe Manager is a solid simulation strategy title with a charming look, and a fair pricepoint. It’s a cute, wholesome break from more stressful titles and adorable cats are always going to win a feline fan over!
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase Cat Cafe Manager from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.