Cats and the Other Lives Review | Sweet little Aspen, I’m sorry for the tragedy that has just hit you and your family. This story starts with the death of Bernard Mason – the eldest of the Mason family after his battle with lung cancer. However, Cats and the Other Lives allows us to take control of Aspen, the household’s curious cat and see past and present events occurring before our very whiskers. With the journey that consists of a bountiful narrative, we will follow the Mason family and experience their decisions that ultimately lead to many emotions – disappointment, sadness, confusion – too many for one little cat to take in; that’s why he has us to help guide his paws! Cats and the Other Lives has been developed by Cultic Games and published by OverGamez, providing us with decades of memories to be remembered and relived. Aspen is a truly special cat; what will he ultimately uncover during his prowls around the house? You’ll have to wait and find out for yourself. Now, onto the review!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Compelling story | Other than a slow start which was to be expected with Cats and the Other Lives, the story just kept giving the further I played and investigated the world around me. It’s certainly a game where the narrative grows as you learn more about the characters so I would highly recommend paying attention to their actions and conversations at all times. The mixture of positive and negative feelings mixed around made me truly feel like part of this disconnected family, finding out their dark secrets and ulterior motives. The unforeseen twists, which I won’t go into due to spoilers, are special and can change your mindset in a split second. The writing does have a handful of mistakes but the quality of the story itself more than makes up for these.
- Eerie atmosphere | Now, I thought I’d have a nice jolly time, roaming the house as Aspen and just being a typical cat. Oh, how wrong I was. I should have known from the moment I loaded into the main menu that this was not going to be all flowers and rainbows. The main menu music sets the tone with its classic piano music playing a rather harrowing tune with emotional notes. This continued into the game but was far more subtle, with stronger keys being used for dramatic scenarios. The sound effects also quickly turned this idea on its head by randomly creeping up on me, sounding ominous and catching me off guard when I was just minding my own business… but I adored it! Apen and his interactions were fairly casual and the characters did murmur occasionally, especially when needed to express their emotions.
- Character personalities | With family and friends attending the home of Bernard Mason after his passing, there are plenty of people around for Aspen to interact with and each had a very different personality and presence; I formed opinions on everyone almost instantly but I’d be lying if I said these didn’t change the more I played and learned about their backgrounds. They make up part of the unsettling atmosphere with their conversations, emotions, actions, and memories being witnessed and unravelled by Aspen over the course of the three chapters. On the other hand, they also have their light-hearted and comical moments to help brighten the home, bringing back some happiness into what could only be viewed as a troublesome time.
- Mixture of emotions | Undoubtedly, Cats and the Other Lives pulled on my heartstrings and tugged on multiple emotions with its many shocking scenes and unexpected occurrences that make up the story of the modern-day, and past, Mason family. Before I started the game, I didn’t expect everything to be all happiness but damn, I was not ready for the darkness that sneakily seeped through the cracks formed through the progression of the natural story. It will get to some people more than others but make no mistake, Cats and the Other Lives has a much deeper motive and narrative than anyone would have anticipated. I’m all for this as it added the element of surprise into what plays like a cat simulator. Aspen is one intelligent and tough cat, that’s for sure.
- Graphical characteristics | Using a 2D pixelated approach, Cats and the Other Lives takes an impressive narrative and gives it incredible personality with every pictured scene. The use of low-saturated colouring immediately gives the game its downcast and dramatic setting with the audio fitting in perfectly. The pixelated graphics don’t take away from the game – if anything, they look magnificent and succeed at including great detail around the house. The outdoor environment needs to be mentioned too as it quite literally felt like a breath of fresh air. Even though not a great amount of time was spent here, I still appreciate the detail put into these sections. If anyone knows me, this is far from my favourite style of graphics but I’m slowly starting to learn it can enhance particular games given you are open-minded enough.
- Interactive points | Being a mischievous little kitty, there are multiple chances for you to interact with objects in the environment. Whether you want to play with your scratching post, give your family some leg rubs, or even attack the mysterious water puddle that’s been in your house for longer than you can remember – there is a chance to do all these and more! My every so slight gripe with this was there wasn’t enough to play around with; I wanted to be a right little nuisance around the house. Sometimes it felt like they’d been included for the sake of having another button to press with no real use. They were a little fiddly to navigate when there were three in close range of one another but otherwise, I had great fun climbing everywhere. I would have got chicken and pancakes too if it weren’t for those meddling humans!
- Clunky controls | A little niggle that I couldn’t ignore was the questionable controls used when interacting with objects and when playing the ‘mini-game’ sequences – they were far from the best I’ve used and definitely failed to respond in some instances. I say this because the game works in a type of point-and-click style, letting us be a menace and jump all over furniture and shelves. The problem came when choosing from multiple interactive points which wasn’t as smooth as I would have expected. The mini-games were more of an issue though but without spoiling anything, it just became a little annoying to follow the pathing when the inputs were often delayed or unresponsive – It’s no good if I’m pushing up on my analogue stick and not moving in the desired direction!
What we Disliked
- Short length | For my first playthrough, I managed to complete the game in just under six hours and obtained twenty-six out of the twenty-nine achievements available. Unfortunately, this should have been twenty-seven but one achievement is currently bugged for the memory collectibles. The entire game only consists of three chapters and each takes approximately two hours to complete on average. Now, although Cats and the Other Lives has an unquestionably deep and charming story, it could have been easily extended and had more detailed scenarios for us to witness. I would have loved to have been given the option to explore outdoors more and have perhaps some unique interactions with characters that could have created little side missions perhaps? Maybe I’m thinking more outside of the box than necessary but I honestly just didn’t want the game to end; I needed more than what was offered and this could have been easily implemented.
- One true playthrough | Cats and the Other Lives only has one set playthrough and ending to play and this made me quite despondent. Yes, there are multiple missable achievements however this doesn’t count as replayability to me. The game had ounces of potential for extra endings and choices that would have been excellent, making people come back to explore other options. I won’t go into detail at the risk of spoiling anything but I noticed that multiple interactions could have had different outcomes or consequences; just think of the potential and extra amount of time you would get to play as Aspen! Again, maybe I’m thinking too much about it but I would have happily come back and played through the story again if I knew there were different paths I could have taken – even the smallest change would have made the world of difference.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 6-8 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 6-8 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Whispering Willows, Sumatra: Fate of Yandi
Despite the short game time and single playthrough, Cats and the Other Lives is a phenomenal game that shares the cherished memories of Aspen and lets us witness the family and their decisions in his presence. The story is troublesome and full of twists that make the dialogue/conversations important to follow. Combined with the overall atmosphere and graphical approach, this game has definitely been one I won’t forget any time soon.
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!