“An unparalleled outlet for your creativity.” |
If all dogs go to heaven, I hope all cats go to an idyllic colony like the one in Cattails: Wildwood Story. In this charming RPG/Life simulator, you play the leader of a colony of cats who are trying to establish themselves out in the wilds, in a new permanent settlement while trying to restore the influence of their guardian protector (the biggest kitty you can find!)
If you are the kind to have an entire island of cats in Animal Crossing, or you have an island’s worth of cats in real life (or wished you had,) then this game is for you! It’s not often that I see a game that makes me think “That’s a labour of love” in just a couple of hours. It is undeniable that a lot of passion and care has gone into making Cattails: Wildwood Story come to life, and it shows in every facet of it.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | 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 X!
Ever wondered how cats get wherever they want?
Things I liked!
- Sandbox | Cattails offers an unparalleled outlet for your creativity, allowing you to personalise almost everything. From the look of your cat’s den (house) to that of other cats, the colony itself and its thematic location! Even the coat of your protagonist cat can be crafted in incredible detail, and you bet that I recreated the adorable cat I had as a teenager in her loving memory.
- Relaxed | If you want to relax and unwind after a tiring day, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a stronger offering. There are no time constraints, no permanently missable events, and the penalty for dying involves losing a few items. I can easily see Cattails becoming a comfort game for many and for their cats.
- Adorable | Hear me out. If you want to give another cat a gift, you must select it in your inventory and your little cat sprite will hold it in its mouth. Some item descriptions are puns. The pause menu says ‘paws’. All this without mentioning the art style itself, charming pixel art that looks almost hand-drawn at a distance. You have a dedicated ‘Meow!’ button and other cats in your vicinity will respond. Oh! And when you go to pounce on some prey, your cat will do that butt wiggle cats do. Need I say more?
- Soundtrack | Music dictates how you feel, so having a strong soundtrack can make or break an experience like this. I’m pleased to report that I have left the game open in the background at some points and I’ve found myself vibing to the background tracks. Furthermore, you can acquire certain vinyls in-game to playback in your cat’s den, which I find just so charming. Cattails is set to release with a soundtrack available as DLC, so that’s one thing to keep in mind when buying.
- Sense of community | One problem that life simulation games often have is that the entire world seems to revolve around the player. Stuff doesn’t happen without their explicit or implicit permission. That’s luckily not the case here; you’ll often find cats hanging out with others, they will mention each other when talking to you and even give you clues as to their likes and dislikes. Certain events will unfold in the colony that will prompt you to take a side or voice your opinion on another cat. The more adventurous ones might be found wandering outside the village, and you might even come across random scripted events between them out in the wilds. The game does its best to make these cats seem alive.
Make sure you enable ray-tracing.
Neither good nor bad
- Some [missing] quality of life | Cattail offers several features meant to make certain tasks easier. Your colony starts with a deposit box placed somewhere outside, and you can move it wherever you please; however, you can only have one of them (or I haven’t come across a way to craft a new one.) Your social menu will keep track of gifts the other cats like and those they love; that said, it won’t tell you which ones they hate or which ones you’ve tried. The map of the mines a procedurally generated cave comprised of floors that you descend─ will show the location of the stairs back to the surface if you want to quit, but it won’t mark the stairs going down once you find them. Equipping accessories like the headlamp, needed in said mines, requires you to go to the coat editor. The features that exist are great but often feel incomplete.
- Pacing | Now, this type of relaxed life simulation games should last you quite a while, I’m perfectly fine with that. My issue is that I saw myself fall into a routine in about 5 hours of playtime. I find that there’s not enough diversity in your available activities to span an entire day before you find yourself pondering what to do next. I fully understand why that is, many players prefer a leisurely pace so they don’t feel like they are missing out on things to do each day; whereas I’d prefer to dedicate a full in-game day doing a couple of tasks and have them last me that long. Granted, you can make days go by 25% quicker (or up to 100% slower) in the accessibility options, so your mileage will vary here.
Most of my classmates returned my pencils chewed up, so…
Things I disliked!
- Combat | Despite the game doing its best to make combat more interesting with a myriad of skills and some interesting boss fights, the truth is that raw damage skills are by far the best. Summoned help will headbutt the enemy and exchange blows until one of them perishes. The enemy AI normally follows the same routine, which makes skills like the blink-dash sound incredibly appealing, but quite underwhelming as there is no real ‘outsmarting’ to be had. It is still over quickly enough that you won’t have time to get bored in combat; I just wish there was more to it.
How long did I play the review before publishing? 10 hours
How long to beat the story? 25-30 hours
How many Achievements did I earn before publishing? 16
How long to get all achievements | 70 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Stardew Valley. Animal Crossing
82/100 ⭐| While not a purrfect game, you shouldn’t pawss up on Cattails: Wildwood Story. It is equally enjoyable in small bite-sized chunks or during longer play sessions, and a great game to take on the go (albeit I couldn’t test it in this way myself.) If you are after a cozy, relaxing game that will last you for many, many hours, this one’s a great choice.