Cattails starts with you, the cat, and a real gut punch – I actually complained to Tyler the developer about it! You’re dropped off at the side of the road, left to fend for yourself. Here, you meet the mysterious Coco. After the short tutorial, you will select one of the three tribes – here is where your cat story begins. After the first day, Coco comes to you again, and you go to the temple where you are tasked with bringing back the Cat God and bringing harmony to the cat-tribes.
Cattails is a slow-paced cat life sim where you live your cat dreams however you like: hunt, fight, have a family and even mine for treasures. It has a very similar feel to Stardew Valley, but with more fur. There are some light RPG and Survival elements thrown in for good measure. To see our review on Stardew Valley click here, or see our video review here.
The default controls are: left stick to move, right stick to select skills, A to talk and confirm, B to cancel and leave, R to swap held item from inventory, RZ to Attack, ZL to Sneak, Y for Items, X for skills, and Menu with the + button. These can all be remapped. Unfortunately, the arrow keys are not used. I would like to have seen that as a mapping option or just to be active regardless.
Everybody wants to be a cat!
If they didn’t want to, they will now. You can customise your cat with loads of different coats. I currently have around 13 and there seems to be a lot more. Eye colours can be changed also. This can be done at any time from the in-game menu. You can level your cat up in 4 main ‘Passive Skills’: Hunting, Fighting, Swimming, and Foraging. These are fairly straightforward, you put the EXP you have gained from the world into a stat to improve it. With each level, the required EXP increases. The level of each passive skill maxes out at 10.
Then you have ‘Active Skills.’ There are 12 to start with, warp skills are unlocked. You can have up to 4 equipped at any given time. These Skills are also interchangeable. Skills range from a powerful ‘Wild Slash’ attack, to ‘Heal Allies.’ These cost 100 Exp each. EXP is gained from interactions in the world. Winning fights and foraging, for example, reward you with 1 or 2 EXP. I like this, as it stops the crazy numbers in some games and makes it more accessible.
Hunt, forage, swim, survive
As I stated, there is a slight survival element to Cattails. In some games, this can take away from the core gameplay, but here in Cattails, it enhances the experience. You have to survive in this world and you are a cat… what are cats known for?
Hunting! It’s a perfect fit for a game where you are a cat. It also seems so natural and fluid. While wandering around the grassy plains, you will see animals that are transparent, and it’s not until you sneak on them that they become visible. I have lost my prey countless times due to not seeing them.
Once crouched, a timer will appear over the prey that you are facing. Once it is full, you are able to pounce. Sounds easy, right? Not as easy as you may think. Each animal has an invisible circle that surrounds them, this acts as a sensing range. If you pounce and land in this range, the prey will run away. This also happens if you get too close to the prey. This simple system makes hunting feel way more fun and involved, much like actual hunting.
Plants are vital for survival, if not more important than hunting for food. Plants come in many forms: blackberries are filling, marigolds for healing health, for example. There are plenty of plants and uses for them. Apart from the plant, you also get the all-important EXP per harvest. A nice, little touch I noticed while writing this review is that each plant has its Latin name under it. Increasing the foraging skill will increase the overall effectiveness of each plant.
On the map, dotted about are bodies of water: from small streams to the sea. The swimming stat improves the overall effectiveness of swimming, allowing the traversal of more dangerous waters. While in the water, a stamina bar will appear over the cat. Once that runs out, you take damage till you get out of the water or die. Improving the stat improves swim speed, the rate at which the stamina drains, as well as the damage you take.
Fighting is going to happen – catfights are inevitable. Every day in-game, two fights will occur on or next to your clan’s territory. Engaging the rival cats has a number of benefits. You gain EXP for every cat defeated, you collect Mews (the main currency), as well as territorial control. When you join a tribe of cats, you are asked to do everything for the tribe, not really everything, but it expands your tribe’s territory. This is done mainly by fighting, although there are a couple of other ways to do so.
Improving your ability to fight lets you deal more damage to the other cats, as well as swipe faster. The fighting system is simple: walk up to a rival cat, press ZR, and trade blows. But this is not how you win a catfight. The best way to win is to time an attack after the evil cat you are fighting swipes, this way, you can avoid the damage yourself. I found that circling the cat I was fighting to be the best option. It is far from purrrrfect, but it works.
Speaking of not being purrrrfect, when you meet a bat, fighting becomes annoying as the bats are so small. You can’t trade blows with them, you have to move around them. Bats are encountered in the mines, and the last thing you want to happen is to be walking around then a bat hits you. I found it frustrating, more so, that they do such little damage. But as I can’t swipe and hit them a few times on the spot, it takes so long to kill one. Hopefully, this can be fixed.
If you are unlucky and die, do not worry. It is likely to happen at some point in the game, be it a fight or in a river – it will happen. Do not be too disheartened. You can be revived by Dr. Cat or restart a save file. If you are revived, you will carry on your current game but lose everything in your inventory. A small price to pay if you have not saved in about 2 hours… yes, it happened to me a few times. He is a good kitty. Also, for a small fee, Dr. Cat can heal you 50% or fully.
Festive Seasonal Fun
The seasons in Cattails play a major role in the game. Not only aesthetically, but also from a gameplay aspect. Each season looks beautiful, from the snow-laced landscapes where you can see your cat’s breath and footprints, to the sunny, bright summers days. Each season has its own look and feel. With the change in season comes a change in fauna and flora. What you can hunt in one season may not be available in another. As for winter, well, stock up.
Every 10 in-game days marks the change of the season. There is a festival where all cats come together in a parlay and enjoy festive games. This is the second currency of the game – Festive tokens. You can get these after partaking in the games at the festival. You can win a maximum of 3 tokens in a game and you can play 3 games per festival. One game is pumpkin carving. This is a reaction based game where you press A to stop the marker in the green area. Do this 3 times and you get a carved pumpkin. Tokens are used in the festival store and the season decides the inventory of the store.
Moles, mines, building, and the den
Moles are found in the mines. The mines are an overly addictive place to be in. You go down the mines, break rocks, and collect ore and shiny, shiny gems. I felt more like a magpie than a cat down there. Once you have filled your inventory or run out of food, you go back up to the mole at the start and you trade in ores or gems. For the third and final currency – mole coins – can be spent at the mole shop.
Once you experience your first winter, you will meet a mole who will upgrade your den to have three extra rooms: storage, nursery, and garden. Mews are needed for payment and there is a time frame of around 3 days to complete. These are vital for winter and your litter of kittens.
Your den is where you save your games progress as there are no auto-saves. Also, your den allows you to sleep and to move time forward. And if you have not slept for a while you will get a 5 Exp bonus.
Awww… this is my favorite part, by far. While playing, you have the chance to interact with other cats in your tribe. Doing so, you will see that some will have stars next to their names. This is your friendship bar. Offering them plants, food, and catnip, to name a few will increase the bar. Once maxed, you can date and have kittens, and they will take on the traits of both parents’ coats when born. Now, these little kittens first of, are all really cute, secondly, you need to raise these wee cuties. You will also need to train them; they can be a hunting posse for you. They are worth the time.
There is so much to go over that if I wrote them all down, I would be here forever. There is plenty to do. If you want a bit more survival, go check out our review for Don’t Starve Here.
The audio in Cattails is good. Although it could do with a little polish overall, it’s grand. The music is relaxing and fits in well with the game, the changes in season, and when going into battles. It’s not overpowering. The sound effects are good enough, again, this is where the most polish is needed. They do the job of letting you know what is happening, I just wish it was a little better.
Visuals & Performance
The visuals are lovely. It’s a pixel art style that’s simple but very pretty. The cats are simple in the way that they are not too detailed; the coats are detailed and each one is different. The environment is both simple to look at, such as the mountains, then you go to the grassy plains. For example, when it’s winter, there is snow on the ground and you leave little footprints behind you, all the shrubs are wilted, and iced-over rivers. Then in summer, there is lush vegetation, grass, and small dragonflies buzzing about. All the environments are different, from swamps to the mountains. It is a very pretty game.
On the performance aspect, for the most part, it works well. I found a few things that could be improved on: the fighting system; the lack of use for the arrow keys; and when the days change, the game freezes for a second or less. I also noticed that if you walk on some of the bodies of water just next to the bank, it will not register as in the water. These are small issues that are fairly easy to fix.
For the price of $14.99 USD and £10.99 GBP, this is a total bargain for the amount of content and stuff to do. Paying even $5 USD or £5 GBP more and this game would still be a steal.
Loads to do
Good price point
Very relaxing and easy going
Arrow keys not supported
Some polish needed on sound effects
Few noticeable issues