Adopt them, feed them, play with them, and serve customers. Have you ever been to a cat café? Well now you get to run one. The Finger Guns Review.
Okay, I frequently joke, as we all do at FG HQ, that if you can pet the animal in a game, its game of the year. Imagine a world, where that is really kind of the whole gig? You pet them, feed them, play with them, all whilst looking after a bustling environment of yummy food and delicious hot drinks. This type of game was has been blossoming lately with the likes of Calico and To The Rescue which continues with Cat Café Manager.
Look What The Cat Dragged In
Cat Café Manager sets you up as someone who has travelled far from home to Caterwaul Way, a place where your dear Nain (That’s grandma/Nan/Nanny to you in Welsh) ran a wonderful Cat Café but has since sadly passed on. You get the fun opportunity to customize your waiter/waitress which is always a nice touch with any game type simulator. Bonner, a friendly fisherman type greets you into the village and settles you in. You can have quaint chitchat with any of the friendly guests you meet along the way, which allows you to have an ounce of your own personality in chosen chatter. A mysterious cat comes to talk to you and essentially tells you a giant shrine needs restoring and they want your help to do so.
Immediately Cat Cafe Manager can appear a little daunting. Like any simulation or crafting game, you need to wrap your head around the mechanics of the tasks you may need to fulfil to be successful. Cat Café does an excellent job of walking you through what’s what and how you will build, run and manage your café (and of course how you will adopt *all* of the kitties). This is a highlight within Cat Café Manager that I will touch upon more a bit later, because your first job is building your starter. Bonner gives you a few basics to start off with so your good to go straight away.
The Customer is always Right
Customers are what makes the world go around. In Cat Café Manager, there are 6 types of customer all bringing in a different resource to be able to spend in the town. The town is broken up into three areas. A market place, a furniture shop and Cat goods. Each shop requires a different type of currency to buy items. Some currency felt as if it was much more necessary than others, and so some strategy is required to make sure that you get a good influx of particular resources such as ‘Nectar’ which is used to buy food and drink. You can adjust your resource intake by advertising for certain customers to bring in that resource, this might be necessary if you have a preference for certain ingredients or you fancy saving up for a fancy item to display.
Each customer has a preference for what they like in the café, whether that be food or decoration, or just needs such as a toilet or plants in the room. You can use the ‘inspect tool’ tool to make sure you cover these needs, but I will admit, I eventually forgot this tool existed as I felt this wasn’t needed as much later in the game. From the get go your main goal is to restore the shrine, through the hours I have put in (and some hours I lost – more on that later), I am about 1-2 goals away from restoring the shrine. I am intrigued to figure out what, if anything, that does to the story or the gameplay or if that is the end of the campaign.
The shrine is broken up into four different categories that vaguely fall into cat management, decoration, food & drink menu and staff & customer management. The player will be able to choose what they feel is going to help them the most. Goals are achieved in the Shrine by collecting desire. Desire is earned by as a sort of point system from customers, the more they love your café, the more desire you will gain. I personally opted for more cats and staff first, leaving the decorations till last. Each goal has an amount of desire to be collected before it unlocks, and then players can simply go through each tier one by one. As you go through the tiers, there may be requirements needed from the café to proceed. These are pretty simple to obtain but just take time, and mostly are in the form of how strong your friendships may be with certain key customers!
As you unlock more food and drink items, more ingredients become available as well as cookware. It gives you something to work towards, and these are exciting moments to save up for, like when you can finally make pancakes, or a bougie meal.
It’s A Cat’s World, Were Just Living In It
When you first start the game, you get to adopt your very first feline friend. All cats have personalities. Mostly one’s where they are most definitely above you in any sort of social or political standing or hierarchy, but nevertheless we love them. Each cat you adopt will bring along it’s own personality trait, this ranges from anything such as bringing more resources in your café, or just needing less food from you as their adopted parent.
As you level up the cats, they have the ability to evolve and have more traits as an addition. Some traits will be of massive help to you. You can adopt more cats by leaving lures out, petting them to gain your trust, and then eventually adopting them. The rarer (or more expensive) the lure, the higher the likelihood is that the kitty will bring great benefits to your establishment. This is great, however your café is unable to hold all the cats you desire straight away. Essentially this means that when you reach a quota of cats, you will have to seek out residents of the village to give your cats forever homes. Some strategy in building your café will be needed as you will need to note the traits you may lose, and what you might need to do next to either compensate or build upon what you may no longer have giving you a helping hand.
Did I mention you get to name your own kitties? They of course come with their own original stray name, but getting to rename the kitties is also part of the fun. Like every cat, we as mere humans are slaves to them, and they require cleaning, feeding, and playing with. The cats will tell you what they need, as a little speech bubble will appear above their head indicating food or some pee may land on the floor (lovely!) for you to quickly clean. Food will need refilling, and litter boxes will need cleaning out every once in a while. Cats can also become stressed (who doesn’t.. am I right?) and so require you to spend some time petting them or saving resources to buy them toys. Don’t also forget, you’ll need to serve customers, and it can not be all work no play!
Doing all of this yourself would become a constant juggling ball and so Cat Manager Café offers the feature of hiring staff to be able to specialize in certain areas and become efficient in doing tasks for customers such as cooking and servicing. At first, it felt like a big sigh of relief once I had hired a few staff as it can become a bit ‘headless chicken’ doing everything solo. However, I couldn’t help but feel that eventually I yearned for a FF button as my staff were doing everything competently without much aid from me as a player. It felt like a point and click management game where you see the resources rise with nothing much to do but wait.
Unfortunately, every cat picks up the odd flea now and then, Cat Café Management is no different and I ran into a few issues. The one issue is something that I noticed almost immediately, and although as a player you get used to this, it is something that can just add a lot of frustration if you are trying to get a lot done in a short amount of time. The player had to be positioned exactly in the right area to do the task, for some unknown reason if the player moved just a pixel to the left the action would stop.
Even when not pressing any directional pad it would sometimes just be a tussle to get my character to stay in place to be able to complete an action. I did eventually get used to this, but when picking it up over the days it became more frustrating if I had days where I had lots of tasks to do.
Also there were some times I would get stuck between cats, or tables and a cat, and I had to go into the build mode to move the furniture to get me out. There were also many other times where my cats would say they were hungry despite having multiple food bowls out, and the best upgrades for food. Similarly, my poor cat froze in place for many days. It eventually did move, but perhaps was just… playing dead? That’s what I will put it down to anyway. I also came across a hard crash losing about 90 minutes of my progress, the game is supposed to ‘save’ after each shift, so how I lost that progress is not known to me but it happened and it was pretty frustrating. I won’t blame them completely though as this could have been a console issue.
The last thing I ran into were the info messages, some messages would pop up that would be longer than a line, but there was no way to scroll down to see the rest of the message. This was most noticeable on food items that needed a lot of ingredients or cookware, such as stoves or chopping boards. You would be able to read the first few words, and just see the top of the lettering on the line underneath. Testing this out on the TV didn’t change this.
However, despite these small problems and…they really are small, the game is fun to play, it requires no real tax from you as a player and even when not playing it, I did get that urge to return to my café and progress more through the shrine to see what cool bits I could get.
Unlike other management games, I did get a feel that this felt more basic than perhaps other competitors that do restaurant management games like you see on the app stores. Although pleasant, it is certainly well aimed at casual playing, as opposed to stress strategy management. The game felt as if it almost came in peaks and troughs of things to do, and things to aim for. To explain further it felt as if there was either too much to do (i.e everything ran out all at once) or you could fly through a few days of managing and have almost nothing to do but the odd cat petting and calling some friendly customers.
If you are looking for a casual gaming experience with not so much danger involved, this will absolutely be for you. If you want to work your way up the ladder to café victory, other than beating the shrine, this may not be the right type of game. You see other games perhaps move on to different types of cafe’s or customers, or demands of orders. Cat Café Management keeps you in one place, allowing you to chop and change the decoration of your café when you may have the resources to do so, or you’ve unlocked a fun decorating themed pack, such as the pub or diner look.
Cat Café Manager is a cozy, stress-free casual management game for anyone who wants to adopt cute kitties whilst serving coffee. Whilst not changing the genre of management style games in any particular way, this is ideal for those wanting a homely game to play at ease.
Cat Cafe Manager is available April 14th on Switch (review platform), and PC via Steam.
Developer: Roost Games
Publisher: Freedom Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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