Have you ever watched your cat curl up in a beam of sunshine or gracefully leap onto furniture they’re most likely not supposed to be on and just for a minute want to trade places? This is the concept behind Catsperience, a game created by a “cat lovin’ couple” who wanted to do just that. It’s a cat simulator. You’ll run, jump, pounce, knock things over, get into things you shouldn’t–but you’ll also be tasked with figuring out the mystery of where your human is, since they didn’t show up to deposit food in your bowl as expected. It’s not all catnip and cuddles though, because you’re also going to need to use your feline smarts to solve puzzles that unlock the doors that no good human may be behind.
In Catsperience, you play from a cat’s perspective, or something approximating that. You’re actually a little bit above the cat’s head, but for the most part, Catsperience still nails the scale of cat to normal human universe. You can run, jump, attack, high jump and after a little bit once you find the catnip, use “cat vision” to see things you couldn’t otherwise see (which would explain some of those times our real life cats are staring at something in the corner and nothing is actually there.) You’re also privy to this purrticularly spoiled house cat’s thoughts, both through actual cat meows courtesy the devs’ real life kitty Cimi and captioned dialogue, which mainly and heavily consists of cat related puns and the generic “thoughts” most people associate with cats–that they think of humans as their servants, and inferior, etc. Sometimes it seems genuinely evil, sometimes it’s a little…weird/cringey and other times there’s a bit of a translation issue.
At first, you’re locked in the bedroom, and your only job is to figure out where the human is. Eventually, when it’s clear they’re not coming back soon, you’ll have to find your catnip, and eventually find a key that’ll let you out of the room. For the most part, the objective in any room you wander into is to find its puzzles and solve them to get a key to unlock another room, in hopes of finding your neglectful owner and finally getting some food. Puzzles take a lot of forms in Catsperience, from simpler things like matching colors and positioning blocks to much more complex tasks.
On PC, you can use either a controller or keyboard and mouse, but I ended up finding keyboard and mouse a little less frustrating. Movement and running is fine, but jumping can be a little frustrating or imprecise, especially when it comes to the high jump that’s needed to get on tall pieces of furniture, something you often have to do to find clues. You’ll also need to mind your stamina and hunger, which are displayed on the screen at all times. Even though you’ve got no Friskies to speak of, luckily, the house is full of rats for you to attack and eat, enough that the mechanic almost seems unimportant.
Initially, I really struggled to master the controls and figure out the mechanics, which aren’t particularly well explained, and some of which are still clunky, like jumping and attacking, but once I’d gotten the hang of things I started to get in a groove and enjoy myself. Each room meant a new puzzle and new places to explore, and with an extra objective of breaking all the vases, it also meant a little bit of mayhem. Unfortunately, there are some puzzles in Catsperience that break the carefree experience a little–namely, the cupboard puzzle, which I got stuck on for a long time before realizing I could move on in other ways. This isn’t the only puzzle that’s a little convoluted or intense though, and I wish the difficulty would’ve been more in balance.
As for aesthetics, you’ve got the run of a pretty nice house. I thought the rooms were well thought out and added an air of mystery to the proceedings, though I do have a strange beef with the game and that is that it was extremely dark. Even when I drastically turned up my monitor’s brightness, there were a lot of corners that were very difficult to see in, or cupboards I couldn’t easily explore. Initially I looked for a standard brightness setting in the game’s options, but there’s no such setting in Catsperience. This also goes for inverting the Y axis, something now standard in many games for those of us used to it. I wish there were a few more options to help optimize the game experience.
While I had a decently frustrating time with Catsperience due to controls, poor visibility and some rather sharp difficulty spikes in puzzles, I did manage to have some fun with Catsperience. I liked the first-kitty view, it was fun exploring around the house and hunting rats, and there were times it felt like a really good mystery game. I think with a little more polish to controls and aesthetics and some refinement on puzzles, this could be a purrfect little romp.
Catsperience is available now on Steam.
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