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Ship’s Cat Review – I’m Feline a Little Seasick

Ship’s Cat Review – I’m Feline a Little Seasick
3.5

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Ship's Cat

Publisher: Caddy Computing

Developer: Caddy Computing

Genre: Action, Adventure

Release Date: April 27th, 2024

Ship’s Cat by Caddy Computing

Several high-profile indie games have put players in the metaphorical shoes – or rather paws – of cats lately. A few years ago, the critically acclaimed Stray – one of our Top 10 Indie Games of 2022 – had you pad and pounce your way through a cyberpunk city, while Little Kitty, Big City, released just a few days ago, has a far more cute and cozy approach to feline urban exploration while already gathering plenty of buzz on its own.

I am fairly confident in predicting that Ship’s Cat, from solo Australian developer Caddy Computing, will not be garnering similar acclaim despite some obvious comparisons.

Ship's cat game screenshot, view from a cabin

Yes, Ship’s Cat is a video game where a cat explores an environment – in this case a luxury cruise ship – but instead of a lovingly detailed cyberpunk dystopia or charming urban neighborhood full of friendly street vendors, it’s full of pre-made assets, awkward text-to-speech dialogue, and bugs.

Floating Ameowsment Park

That said, it’s…kind of awesome, actually?

Ship’s Cat starts off as a bit of a walking simulator or virtual playground kind of thing, introducing our rather cross-eyed feline protagonist as the ship’s designated mouser and then setting us free to explore after a quick tutorial (space bar to jump or press elevator buttons, left mouse button to bash rodents).

The more free-form exploratory bits are amusing enough, I guess, whether it’s the image of our tabby-striped avatar disco dancing in the ship’s nightclub or sitting upright with ears back to ride the water slide.

Ship's Cat game screenshot, waterslide

In addition to loads of mice to slap around, there are some fun mini-games and similar diversions, like miniature golf: miss your shot, and a mouse runs off with the ball. There are also some missed opportunities; there’s a children’s arcade that seems rife with potential for more mini-games (Skee-Ball could have been fun).

But the occasional casual amusements aren’t really enough to rescue Ship’s Cat from the glitches, clipping, crashes, or off-putting computer-rendered dialogue, even if some of the things you overhear are pretty funny.

Aesthetically and mechanically, it doesn’t hold up as a casual game compared to something like 2020’s cottagecore witch/cat offering Unfamiliar.

Paws for Effect

That’s where the nuclear-powered mutant rats come in. Reread that if you need to. I’ll wait.

Yes, midway through Ship’s Cat, a giant mutant rat with glowing green eyes that can shoot electricity makes an appearance.

Ship's cat game screenshot, nuclear rat

While earlier sequences – like a scene where we have to run to the top of the engine room, turn on the automated sprinkler system, and put out a fire – flirt with stakes higher than potentially ruining some rich tourist’s dinner, the atomic rat with the electric eyes definitely twists the knob up in terms of both danger and absolute absurdity.

And while the game of atomic cat-and-mouse actually brings in a few more conventional video game elements, like an area effect attack and a dash move, it’s the ridiculous ratcheting up of self-aware B-movie lunacy that makes everything previous, even the mediocre parts, suddenly seem awesome in context.

This isn’t a failed attempt at a budget Michael Bay movie, this is an intentional Sharktopus, complete with lines like, “Someone brought that cat in. I fed it some pills; it should be stronger now!”

Ship's Cat game screenshot, engine room fire

The Verdict

Realistically speaking, Ship’s Cat is never going to win a ton of critical buzz or make its developer a millionaire, but it’s an unexpected delight both in spite and because of its rough edges.

I don’t think a video game has surprised this many laughs out of me since Kerbal Space Program, and that says a lot.

Ship’s Cat is available via Steam.

Watch the trailer for Ship’s Cat below:

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