I began this series as a lark, inspired by my friend Hannah Frank’s Tumblr omgcatrevolution. I linked to her Tumblr here, she reciprocated by posting some of this material over there. We chuckled about trading some of the meager traffic our endeavors attract; it gave us a chance to chat. A chance to chat with Hannah was always welcome.
Today, omgcatrevolution posted its final post. This morning, at 1 AM, Hannah Frank passed away from a sudden illness. Her death has come as an utter shock to her friends.
Last week, I promised another “sad cat tale” in this Monday’s spot. I had planned to reserve this spot for Jonas and Verena Kyratzes’ The Fabulous Screech (2012), a point-and-click tearjerker about a cat’s adventures through heaven and hell, and eventual decline into old age.
I cannot, at the moment, bring myself to write about The Fabulous Screech. But I think I will leave the screenshots in, and leave the title of the post as it was (with a new acknowledgement). I can think of plenty of people who wouldn’t want to be eulogized in a blog post about a cartoon cat. Hannah Frank was not one of those people. And so that is where I have decided to take this post.
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.
It’s hard to take good screenshots of A Purr Tale (Matias Selzer, 2014), because the cat never appears. You are the cat, in first person, for one. And, on top of this, you never catch even the slightest glimpse of a paw or a tail.
It’s also hard to take good screenshots of A Purr Tale because, frankly, it doesn’t look all that good. Its assets are low quality, and its lighting is muddied by needless effects. Also, its sound effects are bad. Its English translation could use some edits. And the signposting for what you’re supposed to do is horrendous. (Sometimes the correct thing to do is to slip right through the level geometry.) Basically, A Purr Tale isn’t very good, at all. And that’s too bad, because its serious subject matter (content warning for suicide, if you actually play the thing) deserved a more gentle and polished touch.
Ah, well. At the very least, this personal game is loads more ambitious than most things you can find made with pre-existing Unity assets floating around online.
Next week: another tragic cat story.
So, at one moment in What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow, 2017) you play as a girl named Molly, who suddenly finds that she can inhabit a cat.
The moment happens fairly early on, but I still don’t want to share much about it, since surprise and novelty are such essential parts of Edith Finch‘s toolbox. The above screenshot is about all I’m willing to post. Any further description of this act of possession, and where it leads, would qualify as a spoiler for one of the game’s most hallucinatory and delightful moments. So, I’ll just leave it at this.
Up next week: another first-person cat.
Okay, so technically the name of the cat you play as in Murdered: Soul Suspect (Airtight Games, 2014) isn’t Ronan O’Connor. I don’t know what the cat’s name is. Ronan O’Connor is the name of the man whose ghost you’re playing as, who can possess local cats at will. This is necessary, because cats can do cat parkour, which makes them more mobile than ghosts.
Yes, there is cat parkour in Murdered: Soul Suspect. There is also a dedicated “meow” button, which sadly Ronan doesn’t have when he’s in his human-shaped ghost form, for some reason. Video of some lithe Ronan-possessed cat parkour action below the fold.
If you’re lucky enough to play The Stone Prisoner DLC for Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare, 2009), you’ll meet Kitty. Kitty is a cat. A cat who can talk. Wouldn’t Kitty’s ability to talk indicate she’s not actually a cat? Nonsense. Kitty is a cat, really. The reason she can talk is that she’s the best cat. A beautiful cat. The most amazing cat in the history of the world.
Some anonymous sources say that Kitty is not a cat at all, but a desire demon, mimicking the form of a cat. But that’s just FAKE NEWS. The single greatest witch hunt of a cat in Thedosian history. No cat in history—and I say this with great surety—has been treated worse, or more unfairly.
For Kitty’s own words on the matter, peek below the fold.
As I mentioned last week, Atlus has so far developed two games released on eighth generation consoles: Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (2015) on the Wii U, and Persona 5 (2016) on the PS4. Both are set in Tokyo, with certain locations—such as Shibuya and its landmarks—featured prominently. And both have a cat.
This week, finishing off our run of cats exclusive to Nintendo platforms, I turn to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (Atlus, 2015). It’s a game about J-Pop stars using the powers of the performing arts to battle monsters and shake the residents of Tokyo out of their collective ennui, thereby saving them from certain doom. Obviously, it goes without saying that it is one of the most delightful games I have ever played. The cherry on top is that it has a great scene with a great cat, Little Devil.
Xenoblade Chronicles X (Monolith Soft, 2015) an enormous game—too big, in fact—and so there is a very real possibility that players will miss the side mission “Nine Lives” when they play. This would be a shame, as they would also miss the opportunity to be acquainted with Aisha, the game’s cat.
Aisha is a badass. In Xenoblade Chronicles X, the entire Earth has been destroyed, but Aisha survived because she was the baddest cat on the planet. Humans recognized her vast potential and brought her aboard on a spaceship headed to a new home, to test the hardiness of felines and their potential to conquer the universe. Spoilers: they totes will. Aisha represents the absolute best of her species, unafraid to pick fights with giant crab monsters that try to steal her food.
In most Western post-apocalyptic videogames, the broken and ruined remnants of society are populated by bandits, mutants, and Max Max-style ruffians. In the Japanese-developed Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Bandai Namco / tri-Crescendo, 2009), post-apocalyptic Tokyo is populated almost entirely by ghosts, robots, and cats.
Based on what I know about contemporary Japanese society, this seems about right.