The Cat Returns meets Animal Crossing

Ever wanted to run your very own cat café? Liked watching magical girl shows as a kid? Loved “The Cat Returns”? Meet Calico. Not to be mistaken with the cat, it’s a game lovingly crafted by two individuals in the Seattle studios of CatBean Games. The game was also developed and produced by Whitethorn Games and Peachy Keen Games. It’s set in a magical, open-world kingdom where you can befriend all manners of people and fuzzy creatures alike. Furthermore, this is a game that also promotes LGBTIQ+, and does a brilliant job at introducing various pronouns the characters go by. While a limited number of cat cafe games already exist, this is the first (to my knowledge) in the gaming market that takes on a unique approach.

The story starts off the same for everybody. Firstly, you have recently moved into town and you’re taking over your relative’s cat café. Your goal is to rebuild the town’s cat café. There are many ways you can achieve this. Such as by experimenting with different types of furniture and recruiting all kinds of cute and cuddly creatures. Along the way, you’ll be meeting residents and helping them with various tasks. Therefore, you may be asked to help unlock different areas, cook some tasty snacks, or find items to make some very interesting spells. What happens next is up to you. Live your story out any way you’d like.

A warm and cosy cat café simulator just for you.

So let’s look at the gameplay. Upon booting up, the game immediately informs you that you are free to choose to play with your keyboard, but using a control would be ideal to play the game. The game menu was adorable and fun to look at, and it gave me a good chuckle. Since the current update, control buttons work well, but there’s no key mapping yet. I had lots of fun creating my character and was happy to note that the developers provided a lot of options for customization. In addition to controlling yourself, you have the option to pet, carry, and befriend pets. If they are large enough, you can also mount certain animals. Once you meet a certain character, you also have the ability to customize the pets by using various potions. But, beware! Some potions are not fine-tuned, so strange and wonderful things can happen!

Then, there’s the decoration of the café itself. The controls seem simple enough to use whether or not you are using a keyboard or controls. The game helps users who don’t remember key or button placements by offering to hide or show what each key does, so you’re never really in a pinch. Then, there is the cooking mini-game! You shrink to about the size of a salt and pepper shaker and you carry your ingredients into a bowl. After a few recipes, you have a little more creative control (especially when it comes to coloring your cakes).

Time to pawse and breathe……

…and now, onto graphics! To start off, the game uses the Unity engine. The color palette and overall art style look absolutely lovely. I found little to no problems with how fast the game would both load and run on the PC, and I love the dreamy cartoony look that is going on as a whole. I did notice a couple of glitches while playing the game, the rare case of animals or people clipping onto each other. However, this was not a common occurrence and did not significantly affect my gameplay. I was able to resolve the glitches by saving where I was, exiting out of the game, and re-entering the game.

Let’s discuss music. The music helps so much with creating a calm and fuzzy vibe when playing the game. It’s the kind of soundtrack you’d hear when you are taking a break in a cafe, drinking a warm cuppa. The game made me do something I don’t often do when playing games: humming along to the track. It was a clever and wonderful choice to use Emi Evans as a vocalist for the main soundtrack, and she nails it.

Here comes the moment of truth… to buy or not to buy?

The developers have clearly put in a lot of love into this project. In my opinion, they have 100% achieved making me feel warm and fuzzy as I play this game. I personally am enjoying the game a lot and can’t wait to learn more about its world. It is a change of pace from the daily stressors of the outside world. It promotes a safe place for all players, no matter the gender or shape they may be. If you love animals, chilling out, bonding with various characters and exploring the world at your own pace, Calico is 100% for you!

Calico releases today on PC & Mac via Steam.

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