Nowadays, we can find management games about almost everything but to my knowledge Cat Cafe Manager is the first one featuring a cat cafe and that is why it got my attention in the first place.
Management games can seem a bit daunting especially for people that have never played them before. This game falls into the category of more casual management games meaning that most aspects of the genre are present, but the gameplay is rather simple and straightforward. So, it’s an easy game to understand.
The premise is simple. The main character goes to the village of Caterwaul Way for the first time. Their grandmother sent them a letter asking them to rebuild the cat cafe she owned there. Soon after the cat cafe open again, a mysterious cat comes up at the door and asks help to rebuild the cat shrine, present in the village, to its former glory. A bit later in the game the player will learn that a corporation threatens to buy the village and destroy the cat shrine that has been here for decades. The main character will also meet NPCs living in the village and the more the player will talk with them the more friendly they’ll become.
It’s interesting that the game has a storyline. It’s not especially engaging, but at least it’s present.
The gameplay is accessible, so it’s a perfect game for a first experience of the management game genre. Comparatively to games such as Roller Coaster Tycoon, there aren’t a lot of options to take care of and the menus are simple.
The gameplay loop is as follows: people come and place orders, the player has to prepare the food and give it to them. There is a satisfaction meter and the more satisfied a customer is, the more resources they will give away. These resources can then be used to upgrade the cafe or to buy more food.
To expand a little on the topic of resources, all of the patrons will give “delight” to the player which will be used to upgrade the cat shrine. They will also give away materials or currency; these depend on what category of people they are. The game contains five different categories of customers: witches, artists, fishermen, businessmen and punks. All of them giving the player specific resources that can be used to buy items in the stores. Having multiple categories of characters is a great idea. But after a while they felt a bit identical, it would have been great to have a few more categories once the player reaches the mid or late game.
While preparing and serving order the player also obtain skill points that they can distribute to the staff and the cats as they want to.
The player can hire staff and adopt stray cats to help expand our cafe. There’s the possibility to adopt many different cats, some of them such as a racoon or a ghost cat are strange on purpose. Also, we can give the cats a forever home meaning that they’ll then be adopted by someone else.
Cat cafe Manager might be easy to understand, but I wouldn’t say that it is relaxing. On the contrary, the game can be stressful and even frustrating at times. I thought that the difficulty was not well adjusted. Sometimes I found myself not doing much because my employees were doing almost all of the work. But on other moments customers were ordering items I didn’t even have the recipe for yet, and I just couldn’t satisfy them fully. Having difficulty settings and the ability to manually make time go faster would have fixed this issue.
The main problem this game has is its repetitiveness, a lot of the days felt very similar to me and during the late game I had the impression that it took me a lot of time to make progress. That repetitive aspect could have been quite easily fixed with more random events happening.
The visuals are simple, but they work well. There’s a decoration option which is simple yet still good. the player can choose what they want their cafe to look like. Some of the decorations don’t impact the gameplay such as the type of material the player uses to build the floor or the walls. On the other hand, the furniture does have an impact on the employees, some are more efficient when the cafe is equipped with a set of a particular furniture style.
Even though it didn’t impact the gameplay I think it’s important for me to mention that I had frequent graphical bugs, for example, patrons would be floating away from their chairs.
The soundtrack is inspired by the surge of the “lo-fi” music genre meaning that the music is relaxing and cozy which fits the game perfectly. I once again wish that there were more tracks because after a while, I realized that I was listening to the same few musical loops in repeat.
I wanted to like this game. I really did, but there are too many things that bothered me. Honestly overall, I didn’t enjoy my experience playing it. The core concept is good, and it is by no means a mediocre game but with a few adjustments it could have been a much better game and this to me is extremely frustrating.
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