“I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” – Neil Gaiman
Cattails is a cute animal sim and RPG in which players become a cat and must hunt their prey, gather herbs and socialise with other cats in a delightful open-world setting. It mixes a range of genres to create a surprisingly tricky but always adorable experience.
Developer: Falcon Development
Released: 1st December 2017
Price: £10.99 -£11.99
Narrative and Gameplay
Following a cat character creation screen, Cattails begins with a brief bit of visual storytelling to show the adorable creature being abandoned by the roadside. Fortunately, the player is soon greeted by a friendly cat named Coco who is happy to show a newcomer the ropes! Coco begins by explaining how to gather herbs and hunt prey which involves sneaking up on critters and pouncing at just the right time. Gathering food is essential as the player’s health will begin to deplete if the cat gets too hungry. Herbs have various uses such as minor food sources or healing properties.
The tutorial is perhaps a bit brief and ends after the second day after Coco takes the player to the Sacred Shrine that has been abandoned by the first guardian. The player inadvertently activates an arcane pillar leading Coco to believe that they are the key to the forest guardian’s return. There are six pillars in total and each one requires a certain set of items such as plants and creatures, collecting them will reveal the location of a gem that will fully activate the pillar. This aspect of the game includes some fun puzzle elements that add an extra dimension to the gameplay. Coco pops up occasionally to provide new information but for the most part the player is left to explore and work things out for themselves.
At the start of the game the player also chooses which of the three cat colonies they’d like to join and goes to meet their furry companions. The different colonies fight for control of the land and the player will sometimes stumble onto battles between their faction and another. Combat is fairly straightforward, but not necessarily easy and death is certainly possible. Death does not go unpunished and will return the player to their colony’s doctor without any of the things from their inventory. Victory however will win territories and defeated foes will drop coins that can be spent in the colony’s shop, this includes some useful items like food but also customisations items such as skins and accessories.
To help with the various aspects of the game the player has a number of passive skills, hunting, foraging, swimming and fighting, that can be upgraded by spending XP which is gained from collecting herbs, killing critters, combat, sleeping and many other actions. In addition, they can gain active skills such as a dash, of which four can be equipped at a time. These can only be changed in the player’s den, which is also where the player sleeps to replenish health and is the only place from which the game can be saved.
There is a second currency in Cattails, as players can go mining and gather coins as well as debris and gems to exchange for coins that can be spent with the moles that dwell there. Mining is thirsty work and drains stamina quickly, requiring the player to eat regularly. There are many floors to the mine and the players planning and inventory space will determine how far they can go.
Another aspect of the gameplay includes dating, players can collect a rose from the sacred shrine and attempt to woo another cat. There is limited dialogue with the other felines however and this particular part of the game feels a bit lacking, either in explanation or content as progress was very slow to non-existent. There are seasonal festivals however which are a great addition. All the cats from different colonies come together in peace for a day and there are games such as turtle races where tokens can be won and exchanged for prizes such as cosmetic items or even a pet turtle!
Cattails is depicted in delightful, detailed pixel graphics in mostly muted colour palettes. The expected vibrant shades are reserved for the summer season. There are a variety of different beautifully depicted environments such as forests, fields and beaches on the decent-sized open-world map. The visual style matches the upbeat music consisting of gentle strings and a jovial tune being played over the top in some kind of woodwind. The overall effect gives the game a somewhat laid back feel. The prominent ambient sound effects such as the rain, thunder, or water rushing in the river are also very immersive and help bring the game environment to life.
Cattails successfully mixes a range of different genres, from simulation to RPG, to survival game, and the result is a more challenging game than one might expect from the cute aesthetic and adorable feline characters. It could possibly benefit from providing the player with a bit more direction towards the start of the game but the open-world gameplay is not too unforgiving and is incredibly fun to explore. The game lends itself to shorter bursts of play but also to much more extended sessions and could easily become a time sink. The variety of gameplay styles and overall quality means Cattails will have wide appeal and I for one, highly recommend it.
Looking for more games with cats? Take a look at the following reviews:
Pets at Work – Cats and Dogs and Co-op Platforming Fun! – Fisti-Fluffs: Feline Fighting Fun in Cat-tastic New Combat Game – Purrfect Date – Romance and Research on Cat Island