Cats and the Other Lives
Developer: Cultic Games
Publisher: Cultic Games, Maple Whispering Limited
Genre(s): Aventure, Point-and-Click
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 21/11/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
The Cat is Out of the Bag
Cats and the Other Lives is a narrative-focused point-and-click adventure following the story of a broken family from the perspective of their cat. Did this adventure leave a lasting impression on my life? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The first thing I recognized while playing Cats and the Other Lives is how distinct and memorable the world-building is. As I played through the game, I explored a mansion and learned more about the members of a family. The world-building primarily focuses on those topics yet the story content kept me intrigued. The mansion itself was detailed with different trinkets and memorabilia from decades of living in the home. I enjoyed how recognizable each important item was. These items ranged from little toys to post-it notes of information. While most primarily served to further my understanding of the story, the selected items did not feel out of place or forced to progress the narrative. I enjoyed interacting with the surrounding world and thought it fit seamlessly into the world of Cats and the Other Lives.
Similarly, I enjoyed meeting and understanding each of the members of the family. Cats and the Other Lives features a digestible yet clearly extended family with unique personalities and viewpoints on topics. These characters, while relatively simple, are fun to analyze and make the story much more interesting. Instead of focusing simply on the actions that occur, since I focus so heavily on these specific characters, I began to expect certain actions out of them. Thus, when my initial plan was deviated from or altered, I was further intrigued. This happened a lot, yet none of the characters broke character either. The characters were well-written and truly enhanced my experience.
Cats and the Other Lives combines these two elements to create a gripping story with an excellent personality. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It not only left an impactful message on me, but I wanted to discuss it in passing with my friends. It was to the point, but the writing was engaging and the content was interesting. This was mainly because the overarching story does not deviate from touchy subjects. A lot of scary yet real topics are covered in this game. This made the game realistic. I felt like I could learn from the interactions these characters were undergoing. The topics covered are not revolutionary, but I easily saw myself in many of the characters and related to their struggles. I enjoyed learning about the story in Cats and the Other Lives.
Unfortunately, despite how much I enjoyed the story content, I found myself getting bored with the gameplay. Going into the title, I was expecting a point-and-click adventure title. While that is an accurate description of the game, the puzzles seemed to be filler. I never thought through a puzzle and experienced a moment of revelation, nor did I get excited to play a puzzle section when it arose. This was odd for me, especially because I typically do enjoy point-and-click titles.
The first difference was that the game played as though I was on guide rails the whole time. It felt like most of the game was played as though I was just getting acclimated to Cats and the Other Lives. While there are a large number of rooms to explore, the developers consolidated the experience to only a couple of rooms at a time, if more than one room at all. This meant that the information was easily in front of me. Plus, since only a few objects could be interacted with, I never had to worry about wasting my time in areas that were not relevant to the current puzzle. Moreover, many puzzles were less like puzzles and instead progressed the story. Though innately these had a lot of charm and style, I was disappointed by how little the puzzles felt rewarding.
Another aspect of this came when I explored the house. I constantly found myself looking for secret content around the explorable world. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, any area not immediately progressing the story is inaccessible. Thus, I found myself progressing forward even when I wanted to explore and learn more. This made the puzzles simpler and inhibited my exploration. In turn, I found myself disliking the linearity of the game.
Navigation itself was also not particularly engaging. The cat had a great walking speed, which started off the movement on a high note. However, I often found myself jumping onto different objects. I had to wait for the cat to land on the object before I could act again. This is a minimal inconvenience, but it did add up. The game had a lot of cute, enjoyable, and charming animations but they did slow down my exploration.
The final part of the puzzling consisted of quick-time events. These were often simple, but I enjoyed how they altered the pacing of the game. I liked playing through them. They were exciting. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed them, they initially confused me. I often could not interpret what the designers intended until after a few attempts. However, my confusion could have been alleviated with a tutorial or representation of what I could interact with at the beginning of each. Still, despite being confused, these challenges added an interesting new angle to the game.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the atmospheric design. To compliment the story, the world and specifically the house I was exploring was detailed and well-designed. Each room had character, the visuals themselves were charming, and anything I needed to interact with popped right out from the background. There were even clear symbols that appeared on anything I could interact with. The visual design in Cats and the Other Lives was very effective.
L + Radio
The sound design on the other hand did not have the same impact. Many of the sound effects were good, making the environment feel haunted and spooky. I liked that and enjoyed the eeriness each sound produced. However, there were other soundtracks, specifically those associated with the little boy in the family which were loud and obnoxious. I did not like this as much and found myself hoping these segments would end just for the music to stop. There were some parts of the sound design that I actively disliked, but the large majority was sufficient.
Overall, I did enjoy Cats and the Other Lives. While the puzzling was simple and linear, the game was interesting, and I enjoyed exploring the world. The characters are charming and provide meaningful insight into topics that matter in real life. I cannot recommend it to every point-and-click adventure fan, but I had a lot of fun and felt truly immersed in the story.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
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