Videogame Cat of the Week: Nani

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I have written about Beyond Eyes (Tiger and Squid / Team17 Digital Ltd, 2015) before, and mentioned briefly that it is about a blind girl searching for a stray cat that hasn’t come by her home recently, named Nani. What I didn’t mention was that Beyond Eyes has one of the most arbitrarily cruel endings in the history of storytelling.

Surprising, right? The game’s art style—which resembles what The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo EAD, 2011) might look like if pumped up into gorgeous HD—suggests a kid-friendly aesthetic, as does its gentle, generally challenge-free exploratory mechanics. But man, that ending is brutal. And not just in a sad, Old Yeller sort of way. The ending of Beyond Eyes is thoroughly rotten with nihilism. I can’t resist: I’m going to spoil it thoroughly below the fold.

So, yeah: of course the cat dies. But it’s so much worse than that. It turns out the cat has been dead for the entire time you’ve been searching for it. Every time Rae thought she heard it, it turns out she just had an overactive imagination, just like when she would occasionally mistake the sound of a drainage pipe for a fountain, or a scarecrow for a laundry line. This entire time, we’ve been following Rae’s over-imaginative assumptions, parading around the town in search of a fantasy cat that in reality is long dead and gone. Not only is this little blind girl’s cat dead, but she has also just discovered that she’s pretty damn bad at accurately ascertaining the details of the world around her. It’s harsh stuff.

Next week: another sad cat tale, although one not remotely cruel as this one.

 

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