Kattish Review

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Kattish does something that’s notably odd. It doesn’t actually reveal what kind of game it is until after you get 1000G. It’s entirely possible for achievement hunters to get their 100% Gamerscore and depart Kattish without realising what kind of game it is. 

For the first ten levels, Kattish is an extremely generic platformer. You are a cat, and you only have eyes for the exit at the end of the level. In-between are some platforms and enemies, and the only weapon you have on hand (on paw?) is a limp little jump. So, you are jumping from platform to platform, dodging the spikes and slugs, and getting to the interdimensional cat flap at the end of the level. 

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Level one, 100G. Level two, 100G. And so it goes all the way to level ten, only five minutes later. Cue plenty of ‘1000G in Five Minutes!’ achievement videos on Youtube. That will probably net Kattish plenty of £4.19s. 

It’s only on level eleven that Kattish reveals what its gimmick is. Suddenly, dotted lines appear across the map. Jump into the dotted line, and gravity gets reversed. If you were to jump through a dotted line and then leave the pad alone, you would keep switching gravity, over and over, falling back and forth through that line. It’s enough to give you motion sickness. 

It’s an ‘aha’ moment that brings Kattish into focus. Now, that’s what it’s trying to do. We had been prepping a 2.5/5 score, and smug comments of ‘good for achievements, paw for gameplay’, as we readied our bodies for a generic platformer. That got tossed in the bin.

The Xbox Store page for Kattish presents it as a game where “each section has different mechanics from each other”, which is probably over-selling it a bit. The gravity defying is the dominant mechanic, while the others are more tacked on. Pushing boxes, collecting keys and hiding in shadows aren’t exactly game-changers, so the gravity fiddling is what Kattish hangs on.

Alas, we can imagine a version of Kattish where the gravity stuff works. If it moved more into the direction of  puzzling, then it coulda been a contender. Navigating a map where you can approach a given platform from any given angle sounds good to us, and we would have enjoyed playing it. But Kattish goes somewhere else.

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Instead, it aims for some twitchy action-platforming. It wants you to slingshot from one end of an arena to another, carefully pulling off a trajectory that doesn’t have you ending up as shish kebab. It wants you to pull off a sequence of gravity loops, dodging enemies as you go. The emphasis becomes skill and timing, and it’s nowhere near as fun.

There’s only so much control you can have over a slingshotted leap. You’re at the whims of Isaac Newton, and that puts a dampener on the fun. Often it can feel too random. And pulling off figures of eight and others, all while dodging the patrol routes of enemies is incredibly fiddly. One pixel in the wrong place and you have to do it all over again.

As a result, we found Kattish more painful than fun. We knew exactly what needed to be done, but getting it done wasn’t always enjoyable. We hoped that Kattish would explore its puzzle side, but it kept back-sliding back into action.

It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, we’re done with cats in puzzle games (we can’t tell you how many we’ve played recently), but this is at least a finely crafted one. The pixel art is nicely presented, the cat adorably cute, and the levels are well designed, give or take some fiddly bits. And hey, there’s five minutes of 1000G if you want it.

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But the over-reliance on navigating a cat mid-air makes for a cumbersome take on action. It never quite became something we wanted to do: it was always the necessary evil to completing a level.

Maybe we will retrieve that smug quip from our bin after all: Kattish is, indeed, good for achievements and paw for gameplay. It’s just not poor in the way we expected. The opening levels make it seem painfully generic, but when the gravity gameplay kicks in, it becomes painfully fiddly. Kattish trades one itchy furball for another.

You can buy Kattish from the Xbox Store

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