Catizens may be in Early Access, but it’s a purrfectly good time right meow!
You know what the biggest problem with the city-builder / RTS genre is? There simply aren’t enough cats. Oh sure, there are some great ones out there, but exactly how many of them have cats? I’ll answer that — too few. Most — if not all — city-builder / RTS games could be improved with the presence of cats, and you can put that on my tombstone.
Okay so I’m mostly kidding. Mostly. But the truth is, Catizens immediately grabbed me with its cat-based cute aesthetics and interesting blend of city-building and RTS mechanics. Currently in development by Bad Optics and publishing being handled by HeroCraft, Catizens is described on its Steam Early Access page as “a colony management simulation game where you watch over unique cats with quirky personalities, as you help them build and grow their settlement while exploring new lands, facing off against wildlife and overcoming the challenges of each environment.” And with the likes of RimWorld and The Sims as clear inspiration, Catizens is sure to please a wide variety of gamers with its unique blend of mechanics and visuals.
Catizens campaign opens up with a delightful opening sequence that serves to set the scene. You see, this normally peace-loving cat colony is being threatened by evil forces and an active volcano. In an effort to keep all kitty-dom safe, the queen has declared that two brave player-generated cats must strike out on their own to set up villages, clear out enemies, and make a ton of fuzzy feline friends along the way.
If you’ve played any RTS or version of Sims, you’ll already understand the controls. There is one curious problem with the camera positioning, however — trying to do anything that requires the left click button, such as make a rectangle to bunch together multiple cats or to build roads or bridges, will usually not do the action item and instead move the camera. That was the only hiccup I experienced in the game, which I felt was a great sign considering its beta state.
More to gameplay — Catizens’ cover may be a cute one, but cute doesn’t automatically mean shallow. There’s a lot of depth to this pawsitively adorable title that is cleverly explored layer by layer in the tutorial. First, players will learn how to assign cats to different roles, such as the architect or the knight, followed by what those roles can and cannot do. Architects will build all homes and facilities needed for a proper town, like a bath house and market, while the knight explores the cats’ surroundings to fight off dangerous enemies. But knights cannot build homes, and architects cannot hope to fight off 30-50 wild hogs. With me so far?
Great! Because here’s where the depth comes in. Once more cats start joining your burgeoning, bucolic town, they bring with them their individual personalities, requests, and talents. Personality traits like friendliness, courage, clumsiness, and more are all on the table here, some impacting things more than others. I.e., a mean villager is wont to get into plenty of cat fights with others, while an obedient cat will do all they are told.
Should you find traits that mesh well with a specific job type, like green thumb or courage, you’d be wise to immediately offer them an apprenticeship under a cat with the desired job type, like farmer or knight. Once they gain enough experience, you can grant them full employment, meaning they can take on apprentices and ensure the cycle continues. More knights means a stronger army to take down enemies and move forward, more farmers means more food, more architects means more buildings and upgrades, etc. And when you level those jobs up, you end up unlocking even more, like the cookery or stables through the farming route. Surprisingly deep for a game about a cat colony, right?
There’s one last thing I’d like to touch on, and that’s the relationship / mood mechanic. If you’ve played The Sims, this will be immediately familiar to you because it is more or less exactly the same. Cats have things that affect their moods, like being wet or hungry, so you’ll need to improve their mood by letting them sleep or play. Additionally, making friends with other cats is paramount to a successful colony, so ensure you introduce cats to each other, then do things like chat, play, show affection, or compliment. Over time, cats will go from acquaintences to friends to even best friends, and your happy little cat village will thrive thanks to your purrrfect leadership.
Be sure to check out Catizens on Steam Early Access today!