Cat Café Manager
Developed By: Roost Games
Published By: Freedom Games
Category: Simulation, Strategy
Release Date: 04.14.22
Composers: Sonya Vos
Cat cafes are places to unwind and play around with some furry feline friends. Could a video game about one be any less? Cat Café Manager for the Nintendo Switch certainly isn’t. It’s a comfy-cozy management sim about running a cat café in Caterwaul, a small town fallen on hard times. Conveniently, the player character (I named mine Mittens), has just moved back to take over his grandmother’s business. Which has been completely demolished. Luckily, an old sailor friend of hers is there to shout gibberish and pretend to help rebuild the store.
The story for Cat Café Manager isn’t especially deep, but that doesn’t keep it from being enjoyable or having a few surprises in store. Players have a few unique regular customers to get to know. Enhancing those relationships pays off by unlocking new items and new levels of the game’s research tree. Moving up the research tree also repairs the town’s cat shrine, which is watched over by a creepy devil-looking cat spirit named Grimalkin. It also continues the game’s main storyline about the suspicious Hawkable, a company trying to replace Caterwaul’s small town charm with, like… city… stuff? It’s unclear for most of the game what their goals are, but if the devil-cat says they’re bad, who am I to argue?
Running the café is pretty easy – but then I don’t think this game was ever supposed to be about intense micromanagement, was it? Players can rebuild their business by expanding the floor. Walls and floors can be replaced free of charge – which in my experience is not how these things work, but we’ll go with it. New furniture can be bought that upgrade different aspects of the business which appeal to different types of customers. There are six different customer archetypes that pay in one of the game’s six different currencies, only one of which is actually money. The furniture may need cleaning or repairs, as well.
Customers come into the café and sit at the tables, where they order food or drinks and play with the kitties. Probably the hardest part of the game is keeping enough ingredients in stock to make all of the different recipes the game offers. You can only pay with potions, the currency used by the many, many witches occupying Caterwaul. Players can alter their advertising methods to appeal to one type of customer, which helps. Making and delivering orders with the many different kitchen appliances available to buy gets a little tedious – until, that is, employees can be hired. Then the part of the game about taking and fulfilling orders pretty much plays itself.
Players can adopt cats by leaving bait in a dish outside the café, which attracts strays. Petting strays increases their affinity. Once you’ve pet them three times, you can adopt them as long as you have an open slot. Cats make your customers happy, which leads to bigger payments. You can level up your cats with points earned from entertaining customers. You can also level up your employees with points earned by serving customers. The game’s bulletin board also lets you put up your cats to be adopted into forever homes. Doing so generates crazy amounts of resources, depending on how high you’ve upgraded your cat’s skills.
I Didn’t Try Very Hard For Most of Those Cat Puns, Did I?
Cat Café Manager’s art direction is perfect for a casual game. The cats, employees, and patrons of the business all enjoy cartoony, colorful, and lovable designs. Same goes for the furniture and building designs. The music is cozy, breezy, and soft, which fits the game’s atmosphere to a T. And in the end, that atmosphere is what Cat Café Manager is all about. It’s not a game that requires intense focus or refinement of skills – it’s about having fun and relaxing. In that regard, the game accomplishes its mission expertly. Maybe Cat Café Manager won’t be your next thousand-hour gaming obsession, but it’s an amazingly chill way to spend a weekend.
Buy Cat Café Manager
Digital – $19.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.