Have you ever stared at a cat? Like, really stared? We’re not talking about looking at a cat, or admiring one for a few seconds. We’re talking about really bloody staring at one. Move beyond eyeing up; we want some goddamn gawping and gawking. That’s what we’re talking about. Really flipping stare at one. Drill a metaphorical hole through it.
No? You haven’t done that? You haven’t stared at a cat for a full sixteen minutes? Well, thank god for that. Because you’re not a maniac or cat-deviant. Pat yourself on the back: you are a human being and you should not buy Aabs Animals. You have jumped over the extremely low bar we’ve set for you. You can leave now.
Oh dear, you’re still here. We can only assume that you’re curious about how this all ties into Aabs Animals. We will hope and assume that you’re not mentally rubbing your thighs at the prospect of ogling felines.
You see, Aabs Animals is a cat-staring simulator. There is a black kitten, sitting in a room, and you look at it. You can zoom in and out with the left analogue stick, and you can move the camera round with the right analogue stick. This isn’t an Xbox evolution of the Catz, Dogz or Nintendogs games that you might have played in the past, because you can’t stroke it, feed it, clear up its poop or even gain its attention. It’s just there, squirming about for your pleasure. Pressing any other button just causes Aabs Animals to shrug and go back to counting its cash.
Does the cat do anything remarkable? It depends on your definition of remarkable, really. The cat stands on its hind legs, mews, plays dead and falls asleep. We suppose the most interesting thing it does is stick around, rather than eff-off through a cat flap to bring you a dead sparrow, or vomit in an unseen corner of the room where it will fester for a week.
There are no menu options. You can’t change the colour of the cat, nor the background. The game starts immediately in the room with the cat, and you’re straight into dirty cat perv mode. Then the achievements start rolling in, with blips happening every hundred seconds or so, like a ticking clock to when the police arrive and arrest you.
If you’re ever in a conversation with someone about whether games can be art, play Aabs Animals for them. The conversation will be over, as this is about as far from art as you can possibly get. Aabs Animals is a vending machine. It’s dispensing 100 Gamerscore at regular intervals like we were a cat waiting for one of those timed feeding machines. Feed us, Aabs Animals, feed us. Keep the 100G kibble coming.
Our minds started wandering to how we got here. When we say ‘how we got here’, we’re not talking about the money that we put down for the game, although it doesn’t reflect particularly well on us. We’re talking about what led to this game being made, and what led to the game ending up on the Xbox Store. The mind boggles.
You almost want to applaud the audacity of Aabs Inc. Because this isn’t even a particularly adorable little cat, or a well-animated one. You could have stuck a chicken on a rotisserie and it would have had about as much charisma and movement. And to think it’s been shoved onto the Xbox Store for £7.99. £7.99! How ballsy do you have to be to wheel out a dead-eyed cat taxidermy and expect eight quid for it? Even the Xbox Store description makes it clear that this is fifteen minutes of pure cat-watching. At least they’re not hiding it, we suppose.
We’re not angry, we’re disappointed. Until now, we’ve been proud that the Xbox Store has no hentai shovelware like there is on Steam and Switch stores, for example. But quality control clearly took a day off and left the door open a crack. The one positive we are holding onto, desperately, is that there are rumours that Xbox are looking into Aabs Animals and whether it should be removed from the Store. It might cause something of a certification revolution. Which is a good thing, right?
Aabs Animals is less a game and more a transaction. It’s a shifty guy in a dark alley selling 1000G for £7.99. “Just look at a cat mate”, he says, as he pockets the cash and runs giggling over the horizon. And you’re left staring at the rotating, mewling cat for sixteen minutes, the horror of what you committed to welling up in your brain. Why are we here? What is love? Are we all doomed to suffer and die as poorly animated cats dance about us?
You can buy Aabs Animals from the Xbox Store