Most people are either cat people or dog people. I am very much the latter. I was the proud owner of a beagle for many years. Cats, I just don’t like and don’t understand. It’s not even because my better half is allergic to them. Cats just seem to want to do their own thing. Personally, I kind of feel like they think they should be in charge. Sometimes, they even come across as kind of evil. So, you would have thought that when I was asked to review Cattails for Switch that I would hate it. Well, you would be wrong. I might still detest cats, but I really like this game. Let me tell you why.
Cattails is a “unique animal simulation RPG.” You play as a cat in a 2D top-down adventure. The game starts with you having to decide which faction of cats you want to join. I chose the (default) forest clan, though you can pick any of the three on offer. You are then led to their encampment where you are given your own home. Introductions are offered to the mayor of your camp as well as a doctor, a merchant, and a guard. These are important people to know as you will often need to guard your territory, heal up, and sell inventory items.
Once you have had a good night’s sleep, your adventure begins. You are informed about the disappearance of the forest spirits and also the day-to-day chores and objectives that you should be aware of. The first two things you need to be aware of are your health and energy meters. Your energy meter will deplete gradually over time. You need to hunt food and then eat it to restore your energy. Your health, meanwhile, will take a hit when you are attacked by other cats and animals or if your energy hits zero.
Your core mission is to restore the forest spirits. You accomplish this by acquiring specific resources and bringing them to the temple. Once you have brought the prerequisite items, you will be sent to a location on the map where you will have to solve a puzzle to get a jewel that, when returned, will return one of the spirits. Getting the resources is complicated by the fact that some items will only be available during certain seasons. Each season lasts 10 days and affects the world around you. In addition to rotating the available animals and plants, in winter the water freezes over, making it a lot easier to reach certain areas. On the tenth day of each season, there is a festival held at the temple where all the clans join together and take part in games.
One of the daily tasks that you will need to keep an eye on is territory battles. These appear as a red exclamation mark on your map, and you can choose whether to help out or ignore them. These skirmishes will determine whether your clan’s territory expands or diminishes. Something else you might want to think about doing daily is building relationships with the other cats in your clan. You can even start a relationship with another cat that can result in kittens who you’ll need to provide for and eventually will help you in your actions.
Cattails is a game that totally charmed my jaded heart. It’s kind of like a feline Stardew Valley crossed with the board game Risk. Even these comparisons demean the game, though, as it tries to strike its own path and pretty much succeeds. There were a few lulls during my time with the game, but that just helped to highlight the times where I absolutely loved it. The visuals may be basic, but they work perfectly well for what the game tries to do. The music is delightful and a real boon to the feelings that the game evokes. Cattails is a game that you should consider adding to your library whether you are a cat lover or not.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Founding Xbox Enthusiast member and serious guitar player. Basically, Steve rocks. Need we say more?