What’s more adorable than cats running an entire village?
Waking on the shore of a strange island, your first realization is that your friends are missing. Your second realization is that it’s time to get to work! Much like CityVille and The Tribez, Cat Story puts you in control of creating a functional town one building at a time. Harvest food, gather resources, and build bungalows as you find your friends and expand the village to take over the island!
It starts with simple strawberry farms and fisheries, the most fundamental things necessary to keep your village alive. You’ll grow basic food products so you can refine them into more marketable items, slowly increasing your pot of gold with each sale.
Once an item is ready to collect, tap the building to take its resources, then tap it again to set the workers on a new task. Quests appear on the side of the screen to guide you forward, instructing you in the ways of wheat production and sawmill construction as well as pushing the story forward with new events and challenges to complete.
The freemium features in Cat Story are pretty standard for the genre. Coins are used to purchase upgrades and new buildings. You’ll also spend a few each time a resource producing structure goes to sleep, sort of like a restocking fee. Food is necessary for performing clean-up actions like getting rid of boulders or chopping down trees. It’s also used to create other products you need to sell at the market, such as fish or chowder. Gems are a much rarer form of currency and are used to eliminate waiting periods for performing tasks. There are a few other minor resources to keep an eye on, but these few basics are enough to keep you in the game.
The sad reality of Cat Story is that it’s a little over-eager to get you to spend money on in-app purchases. The gameplay balance is always slanted in the direction of famine, preventing you from earning too much so you’ll always be tempted to buy more. Once you head into the microtransactions store, you’ll see a few dozen options with prices that will really take a bite out of your paycheck. As always, a little patience can keep you in the green, but Cat Story definitely pushes the boundaries of how long you should wait.
Visually, Cat Story is a gorgeous game. Everything is so detailed, from blades of grass to the leaves that pool on canvas-topped structures. On the whole this is a very big plus for the game, but it can occasionally make it difficult to spot building types without zooming in and scrutinizing the scenery. A small price to pay for graphics that look this good, especially on large screen mobile devices.
With an IAP misstep here and a tiny gameplay imbalance there, Cat Story isn’t without its flaws. The artwork helps pull it out of the doghouse, though, and simple but rewarding missions keep you interested in the long run. It doesn’t challenge genre conventions very much, but it’s still a fun ride.