HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewCat Slide Tiles Review

Cat Slide Tiles Review


Alright, we’re calling shenanigans. What’s with all these cat-based puzzle games? Sokocat – Combo, Sissa’s Path, Bright Paw, Kattish… Do game developers get close to releasing their puzzle games and think, wait, we forgot to include any charm and personality! Stick a cat on it: that’ll do it! Are all life’s problems solved by just sticking a cat on it? We worry that yes, yes they might be.

Cat Slide Tiles is a sliding puzzle. Click-clack some tiles around a grid until a picture forms. That’s all it is. You’ve probably found them in Christmas crackers or party bags, or played about a bazillion of them in hidden object games or escape rooms. 

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The slight spiciness comes from the need to create a path rather than a picture. The adorable cat, aww, sits at an entrance square, which cannot be moved, and you need to create an unbroken path to the exit square. That exit square is initially a little confusing: you’re aiming to get to the black iron-wrought door, rather than the wooden door, and that will trigger the end of the level. 

You can’t just bash together a straight line to the exit door: you also need to walk your cat through the three keys in the level. They are on very specific sliding puzzle pieces, so they become mandatory. You will need to incorporate the bends and straights that they sit on. 

Are we missing anything? Oh yes, there are also rigid, unmovable pieces, as denoted by castle-like walls. You will have to work around these pieces, including them in the flow of your path should you need. And you’d be surprised how often they are red herrings, and you don’t need to include them at all. 

That really is it. There are no new puzzle pieces that get shuffled in as the levels progress. We reached level 10, then 20, 30 and 40, expecting to see complicated new squares, awkward obstacles and even some enemies being added, but Cat Slide Tiles is stubborn about keeping things simple. All that changes is the shape and number of pieces that you’re given, as well as the number of empty squares to stuff pieces into. 

Don’t get us wrong, the basic puzzle here is pretty strong. We have waking nightmares about sliding puzzles in other games, where you’re given only one empty square to maneuver around. We just haven’t figured out the best practice or algorithm to complete them easily. But the puzzles in Cat Slide Tiles are generous. You’re getting plenty of space to shove unwanted pieces out of the way. In many ways, a puzzle is more about figuring out a path using the limited pieces you have. The sliding is secondary, and slotting it together isn’t much of a challenge. 

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We’ll take exception to the controls and UI, though. To move a square, you have to highlight it, press A to pull it into focus, move the analogue stick in the direction you want, and then press A to move it. Already, we’d argue that the second ‘A’ press isn’t needed. The square should just move with the directional press. But you also can’t press any of these buttons simultaneously. It would have been so much smoother and easier if you could hold and drag pieces, but like a dispassionate cat, the game just looks the other way and ignores you. 

You have to press B to back out of each highlighted tile too, so you can move to the next one, so it’s about as clumsy as clumping around with clogs on your hands. The UI doesn’t help either: there’s no real indication of which tile you are focusing on, so it can take a while to orient where you actually are. 

Perhaps more heinously, and easier to spot in any kind of playtest, is that changing the camera plays havoc with the controls. Jostle the camera the tiniest amount, even when accidentally nudging the right analogue stick, and suddenly the control scheme gets swapped. Left is up and right is down. You’re now spending time flipping the camera about in a desperate attempt to get the controls back to normal. It’s an oversight that could easily have been pounced on.

But for all the clumsiness of the controls – and lets not forget, this is the simplest of games, so that clumsiness really shouldn’t be there – it’s possible to adapt and get some puzzles in. There’s a kind of serenity and security in knowing that the puzzles are more about shuffling blocks around a large room than it is a tense sliding puzzle, so you can take your time. There are multiple solutions to most puzzles, so you can simply find the path that suits you.

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After ten puzzles, we understood everything Cat Slide Tiles was doing. We’d even mastered the controls. After twenty puzzles, we were bored. After thirty puzzles, we saw layouts that we swore we had seen before. And after forty puzzles, we started questioning what the hell was going on with the difficulty curve. Very suddenly, the puzzles were easier, rather than harder, as if they had been programmed back-to-front. 

We started to learn that Cat Slide Tiles probably wasn’t best played in long stretches. We began playing from achievement to achievement, turning it on for fifteen minutes, playing some layouts until the Xbox went ‘blip’ and gave us the next Gamerscore milestone. And then we turned it off, because we knew that fatigue was a-coming. 

Play it this way, and the monumental repetition won’t crush you. Ten or so puzzles at a time is just about right. But we’d have preferred it if the game itself reset our fatigue, offering something new in the layouts or mechanics that kept us playing. 

But look! There’s a cat! You can’t distract us, Minicactus Games. While you do indeed have an adorable cat in your game, trundling from entrance to exit with every path we make, you can’t hide the lack of, well, anything at all in Cat Slide Tiles. It’s a one-trick pussycat, offering relatively friction-free sliding puzzles, but without any new mechanics or obstacles to get you thinking in new  directions.

Like a cat with a ball of wool, you will toy with Cat Slide Tiles for a few minutes and then toss it away for something better. The next day, you might go through the process again. You might even find that you get to the end of the game this way. But it’s certainly not something you’d tinker with for more than fifteen minutes at a pop.

You can buy Cat Slide Tiles from the Xbox Store

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