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Cattails: Simple, Sweet Fun

[Image source]

[Image description: Extremely blocky, white font that reads “CATAILS” in all capitals as one word. Two small boxes sit on the ends. An outlined cat stretches from the very edge of the A to the L.]

Cattails is a game that originally came out in 2017 by a small husband-and-wife duo, Beka and Tyler Thompson. 

It’s a relatively simple game wherein you play a pet cat that was summarily abandoned by your owner’s mother because she couldn’t stand you or didn’t want you anymore. 

[Image description: Two images in sepia tones.

First image: The shadow of an adult looms over a very young girl. The shadow has anime anger lines extended out from the head. The little girl looks scared and the cat to the left of the frame also does.

Second image: A cat is in the lower one-third of the left side of the screen while a car drives away on a road. The scene takes place in a forest.]

You end up joining one of three colonies: Mountain Domain, Forest Colony, or Mystic Colony. Your choice doesn’t have much bearing on anything other than offer you different NPCs to interact with. 

There is further plot beyond the initial setup, but it’s relatively minimal. It’s essentially a bunch of fetchquests to restore the Forest Guardian so you can create your own custom colony. You can choose to do it or not; it’s up to you. 

The game has a number of activities from hunting to battles to mining, all of which are encouraged. The only one that’s needed is hunting as you have a hunger meter. There are numerous difficulties in the game from Very Easy to Very Hard which you can change at will in the options menu.

[Image description: A very retro-looking video game pixel style. A wintry pallet of dark grey covers it. The center of the screen holds a basic menu with Controls. Audio, Mode – V. EASY, Credits, and Exit to Menu listed. ‘Exit to Menu is selected with text that says: “Exit to Menu: Close the game and exit to the main menu.”]

I personally tend to play on Very Easy mode because it’s very manageable and relaxed. Your hunger meter depletes in every setting, but in Very Hard mode, it drains like every second or so. I personally would get far too stressed out to play on anything too high if just because of the hunger meter. According to the Cattails Wiki, difficulty also effects rival colony influence over territory as well as item prices. Some people will like this challenge, but I personally just want to chill out and wander around the huge forest as a cat.

That also does bring up a good point that can be chosen to be explored or not: colony influence. Basically the three (or four, should you pursue the custom colony plotline) colonies each have territory and more can be won through battles or not. A map can end up looking like this:

[Image description: In the center of the screen is a grid-based map, ten by ten. The heading reads “World Map and Politics.” The bottom right-hand corner of the map reads “My Reputation: Forest: 97%, Mountain: 97%, Mystic 100%.” Red takes up roughly the third around the bottom right-hand corner, green takes up approximately a third of the the left, and blue takes up approximately the top third.]

This is a feature that the player can choose to invest time into or not. I’ve noticed that, if I don’t really pay attention to battles, then things remain pretty stagnant. But as you win more and more, your colony expands and so do the others. You can choose to win as much territory for you colony as you want. (I’m personally aiming for complete domination for Mystic Colony (red) on this particular file. ;P )

This might seem rather complicated, but it’s really not. If you notice, there are two exclamation marks on the map which are your randomly generated battles for the day. Swoop in, do those, and you raise your colony’s influence in that area. You can see influence in the small gauge at the top of each square. You can also use lavender to increase it in small increments too. 

And that’s literally it for how growing territory works.

You’ll also notice the “My Reputation” bit which is simple. Basically it’s just how friendly the colonies are to you. Your home colony will always remain at 100% as far as I’m aware. You need to give the others gifts in order to get a good reputation with them. If you don’t care about the plot, it’s really not necessary, but if you’re going after that custom colony, then it is. You can give 3-4 gifts to each colony each day. Obviously, certain items are much higher value than others, but basically anything works. You will have to keep it up, but at least in Very Easy mode, it goes down at a snail’s pace. It’s probably a lot faster in the higher difficulties.

There are also some RPG elements in the game in the form of Passive and Active Skills.

[Image description: Two images. Both show menus. At the very bottom, both have a light beige box that says XP in red lettering and outlined by a box as well as a very bright blue “364.”

First Image: Top of window reads “Passive Skills.” Four options are presented: Hunting, Fighting, Swimming, Foraging. A blue bubble that says “Active Skills” sits below them. All four are maxed out at ten out of ten.

Second Image: Top of window reads “Active Skills.” The options presented are Sprint 5, Diplomacy 5, Wild Slash, and Summon Allies. The first two are marked as “Equipped.” Below the options, it says Page one of four with “previous” and “next” options below that.]

This is my pretty far account, so I have everything maxed out. 

But yeah, basically Passive Skills are your abilities. The more you upgrade them, the better you become at that target skill and they can have some neat perks. For example, with Hunting and Foraging, you’ll get little dots on your minimap that shows you where prey and plants (respectively) are. That’s at Level 10, but even so, it’s great once you get there. 

Active Skills are ones you choose to use and are mapped to the right thumb stick. They range from allowing you to sprint to warping to certain areas to various combat-related abilities.

You gain experience by doing things like defeating enemies and catching prey (this does not include catching insects). At least on Very Easy, you get one point per victory or prey capture. 

You also apply things as you see fit. If you want to focus on just hunting for a while, you can. 

Passive Skills upgrade on an incremental scale. So, like, going from Level 1 to 2 may be 12 EXP but 2 to 3 might be 17. 

Active Skills upgrade on a flat scale, being 100 points between the different levels. Each skill can be upgraded five times and each upgrade increases the duration and strength as well as lowers the cooldown period.

Perhaps the most other major thing of note is being able to pick a mate and have kittens. 

[Image description: A very cute retro pixel style. Six cats are visible on screen, one at the very top “Nil”, one in the very center “Dove”, one more toward the center left side of the screen “Echosong”, one toward the bottom left “Snowfeather”, one toward the center right “Snowfeather”, and one even further to the right “Cinderheart”. All are varying shades of grey and some have white splotches.]

You have to court your mate by giving them presents and then giving them the Shiny Trinket (a ring) which allows you to get married. Kittens are determined by how many gifts you’ve given your mate and how desirable they are. I got four beautiful babies, so that means my mate was pretty happy with me. When your mate asks if you want to have them can take a while and they can take even longer to arrive. It’s all pretty random which is frustrating, but it’s exciting when it does happen.

Admittedly, the NPCs in this game…aren’t very deep. This is a life sim and those generally aren’t known for the deepest of NPCs. Their personalities are very basic and are really just to facilitate general interactions.

Obviously, there are more things to the game, but I’ve covered a fair few of the major things.

And that does bring me to perhaps the biggest con, but it’s one I’ve noticed with life sims in general: it gets repetitive and fast. You basically just hunt, wander around, do a couple of battles, and go on fetchquests. It’s very relaxing for a while, but it can eventually just begin to wear you down and make you lose interest.

However, like I said, this seems to be something that’s common to a lot of games like this. Be it Stardew Valley and even Animal Crossing, doing the same tasks gets boring. 

That doesn’t mean I don’t love to revisit these games, though. I’ll just play them obsessively for a while, burn out, then come back and enjoy them again. 

All in all, this is a sweet little indie game that’s a very fun time, available and PC and Switch. If you’ve ever wanted to live out the fantasy of the Warrior cats books, this is the best chance you’ll get!

Sources:

Cattails Game | Become a Cat. (n.d.). Cattailsgame.Com. http://cattailsgame.com

Difficulty. (n.d.). Cattails Game Wiki. https://cattails-game.fandom.com/wiki/Difficulty

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