[Preview] Little Kitty, Big City could be the purr-fect game for cat-lovers
Posted on July 3, 2023 by Nicholas Serpa in Previews, Switch eShop
Anyone who owns a cat is probably well aware of how quickly they can turn from cuddly, loveable fluffballs into zooming creatures of chaos. While I can’t say I always understand why they feel compelled to, say, scratch at our brand-new barstools or knock over a cup of coffee that I just placed on the counter, perhaps the upcoming sandbox-exploration game Little Kitty, Big City will give me some answers, or at least let me empathize with them a bit more. I was able to play 45 minutes of Double Dagger Studio’s debut game at Summer Games Fest recently, and I’m already floored with it.
Little Kitty, Big City puts the player in control of a green-eyed, black-furred cat who is very, very curious – so much so that they fall out of their owner’s home’s window and need to find a way to return back to safety. The game immediately abandons any pretense of urgency, though, instead encouraging players to roam around the open city and get into as much mischief as they desire. The Tokyo-inspired streets are dense with garbage cans to dive into, pedestrians to annoy, and fragile objects to shatter into a million pieces. Additionally, our feline friend will encounter many other animals as it explores, who will request assistance with various tasks around town.
Playing the game for the first time, I was struck by just how freeform the pacing of the game is. There are no objective markers, so exploring and discovering fun ways to interact with the world is the focus, but the player will need to find creative ways to navigate to get to certain spaces. Kitty – if that’s even their real name - has a limited moveset at the start of the game, and is initially only amble to jump between surfaces, claw at items, and pounce (useful for catching birds, I was told). Eventually, though, new abilities can be unlocked by helping out the various critters around town – later in the game, Kitty will be able to do things like climb ivy to reach higher areas, for example.
Being a game still in development, I ran into a few bugs during my demo, but overall, the cat was a blast to control. The developers seem to have truly nailed the physicality of playing as a cat, who really comes to life due to the incredibly detailed animation. It’s all played up in a very cartoony, lighthearted style, but the overall physics of the world feel grounded and easy to learn. I had a great time leaping between shelves in a home, balancing on the narrow surfaces of walls, and slinking into tight gaps to access tucked-away areas. I thought it was hilarious that I could control the cat’s left and right paws independently to bat at objects, too, which should open up some amusing interactions.
The writing is excellent so far – each of the characters I met, from a Tanooki stuck in a pipe to a lazy cat who wants you to collect “shinies” for him – were funny, with distinct personalities and clever commentary about the world they’re living in. The tasks you end up completing for them will vary – for example, to catch a bird, you may need to lure them by knocking a bagel out of the hands of a passing human, placing it strategically, then waiting for the right time to strike. Some challenges are more based around exploring – one later quest has players locating a “dad duck’s” missing ducklings, who got bored and went off looking for fun things to do around town. You have other incentives to explore, too, especially if you like the idea of collecting cute hats to dress up your kitten in – which I’m definitely down for.
While I think Little Kitty, Big City will inevitably be compared to last year’s Stray when it releases, the games are very different in terms of their structure, goals, and just overall vibe. While Stray was a mostly serious sci-fi story about survival and the apocalypse, Little Kitty, Big City is much more interested in simply letting the player have fun as a cat, explore, and get into trouble. It’s breezy, lighthearted, and charming at every turn. I only got to see a small chunk of the game during my demo, but I can’t wait to explore every nook and cranny of this wacky city when it launches on Switch sometime next year.