During Steam’s visual novel sale a few weeks ago, where I scouted for all sorts of short games to play in between binging my FPS games, I was charmed by Cateau. A short visual novel game made by Lemon Curd Games, I was mostly enticed by the price tag — free. As someone who sinks way too much time into FPS games, I wanted something easy and stress-free.
I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I just couldn’t stay away from the cat on the title card. Fortunately, I don't regret it one bit. Now let’s delve into what I love about this game!
A Little About Roselle
Cateau stars the player as the protagonist and Roselle’s housemate. Not much seems to be known about the protagonist, and it took more brainpower than I anticipated to deduce that I was playing a journalist who worked at night. The relationship between Roselle and the main character was just as hazy, but it's hinted that they were once close.
From the get-go, Roselle looks exhausted, unhappy, and extremely busy. While her face does show annoyance, she isn’t anything but sweet. A likable character despite the negativity, I could see why she and the protagonist are close friends, and why the protagonist would like to help her get through this tough time.
The thing about Cateau, I found, was that nothing needed to be specific in order to solve them. Though some would argue that a few details would help the story immensely, this game was meant to be relatable. Despite Roselle's problem being vaguely implied throughout the story until the end, I found myself identifying with Roselle’s mood, and perhaps this kind of empathy is what helps make the game accomplish what it set out to do — make connections through understanding.
Welcome To Paris
The artistic direction sets a fairly good mood for the narrative. The simple and static background coupled with the bright music made the game feel like a perfect day to go strolling the streets of Paris. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any defining characteristics that would make me go, “Oh, yes, I truly am in Paris!” aside from the music, but that’s okay; the setting takes a backseat, while the real stars of the game shine — the cats.
While walking to and from home, you’ll get to meet three distinct characters: a skinny stray whose territory lays beside a river under a bridge, a plump alley squatter who lives behind a lovely bakery, and a shy abandoned kitten whose heart is through its stomach. Like with most strays who make the city their home, they came to have a place in my heart in this short visual novel game.
Being able to name the cats was a very nice touch. It’s true that when you give something a name, a connection is born — and I’m sure the creators knew just what they were doing when they included this function in their game. The skinny stray I named Gargantuan, the alley squatter was Fatty, and the kitten I called PeeWee.
Just Kitten Around
My playthrough took one hour to reach the full ending. I enjoyed every encounter with the three cats, but in my initial playthrough, I only ended up with one of them — PeeWee the kitten. Other than being interested in the different consequences, there was only one reason I went back through to try every other option: I wanted to see if I could rally the other two cats in addition to PeeWee. I could hardly stand to leave them outside, especially after naming them.
With the game being bite-sized, Lemon Curd Games did an amazing job in making every choice unique. I wanted to see what every path yielded, especially since it would affect the picture of each cat I would be able to acquire and send to Roselle.
All in all, Cateau was a short and sweet visual novel game. I was satisfied with the ending and all the choices I was able to make. The replay function that allowed me to rewind the scene to before my current choices was nice in a game that was only about an hour long. I didn't have to spend unnecessary time reloading game files since it was so short, nor did it take away from the story.
The artwork, though simple, made the game stand out as much as its writing. The first picture I acquired of Gargantuan took my breath away. It’s probably my favorite picture in the entire game, and the ending was sweet and cheerful. Not only is Cateau worth your money (read: it's free), it is definitely worth an hour of your time.