Played on Windows
Also available on Linux
Cat Interstellar is a rather interesting game. It’s also a very short game, however, even a short game deserves consideration. The game came to my attention when I saw it was inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s work “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. So I was interested enough that I bought it and played it.
So let me explain the “title screen picture”, there’s not really a title screen. You load into the game and instantly you’re walking around a space station. Now you can look down and see your android body, and you can talk to a few people and then you’re told to report to the Departures. At this point, I went to the main menu and found myself at the same level. So you work your way there, hearing a few people talk as you walk to the Departures section, and you suddenly see there are 5 levels and the credits. It appears all are unlocked from the beginning. Suddenly I got it. The level was the main menu. Odd. Very odd. So I used a picture from the credits.
This is also how you toggle subtitles, but subtitles don’t work on the main menu. Ok, that’s fine. In fact, I really have to say I like the subtitles in the game, but I just wish I had the option to turn them on everywhere.
That’s when the game gets even odder. You see you’re not an android, and in fact, you never use the android body on the main menu. In the game, you are “Dog IV”, a “Quadruped” floating android. At least you have four hover units, and you seem to be remote controlled, I’m not sure exactly what to call you.
When the game tries, it’s quite interesting.
You make your way around the port and end up having to explore it finding the way out, but first having to go to the lab to talk to someone (which means stand there and hear a few lines of dialog).
The fact is this is really the game. Most of the game gives you a level to explore and usually a mission, which as you try to perform has a side mission. In the first level, it’s to go to the mines and you are asked to go to the lab first.
There are a few interesting features of the game, a small number of destructible environments, a couple of interesting quests, and a few places to go, but the problem of the game is that section that I just described, about going to the lab, takes about 20 minutes, and it’s a fifth of the game.
Yeah, Cat Interstellar is an hour long, and if that’s not for you, I understand, I’ve reviews of a lot of other games that take longer and might be up your alley. However, I played the entire game so I think I should delve deeper into it, in case anyone is still interested in playing it.
So the game claims it’s based on The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, and I was expecting something grand. Even at an hour long, there’s a lot of short stories Heinlein wrote that could be read in an hour, so I wanted something that I could sink my teeth into and think about. Ultimately I didn’t get that. Heinlein’s writing is special, and I’d say I’m a huge Heinlein fan, I’ve read most of his books and absolutely adore his writing. Stranger in a Strange Land is probably my most favorite book ever.
So while The Moon is a Harsh Mistress might be a basis of the game, the game ignores much of the writing. It ignores the political plot, the workers unionizing, libertarian overtones, the fighting with Earth. Really the only thing this game takes from it is the location and some technology.
So much could be done with this, nothing is.
Now I understand the difference in media. No one wants to play The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. In fact, I’m sure most people wouldn’t want to read it. No one is looking forward to being locked in a room in a game and listening to a 2-hour speech. That would really kill the experience fast. However, I understand taking the themes from Ayn Rand’s work and making Bioshock. Andrew Ryan is clearly John Galt, as well as others, the other characters are characters who easily could exist in Rand’s work and are based on a number of characters.
So a book to game adaption can work, as also seen by Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The problem here is Cat Interstellar never tries to use the book. You have androids, you have the player as “Dog” and you have simple tasks. The game never gets deep enough to inspire anything beyond a simple game.
That’s the real shame here. The game engine is fine, the game levels are fine, the side quests are annoying but it adds length. What really hurts this game is that the length is only about an hour long, and the game never attempts to have a story, just actions it wants the player to do. Even when the game finally does have something interesting, you get an android saying “This is odd.” and then five minutes later the games practically over. There’s no depth to this story, and it feels unfinished.
It’s a shame, because I like the idea that they’re going with here and if they could have built just a little more depth to the game, either in the story or the gameplay or just giving at least 2 hours of gameplay, I might be able to recommend this game, but ultimately, I can’t even come up with more to talk about. Acceptable graphics from a small team, a good world, but nothing to do in it. As such I give this game a…
Final thoughts: A game that’s really over before it’s begun, at only an hour’s length it might be worth getting on sale, but it’s too short and the writing is so weak I can’t recommend it.
In addition, I am trying something different. I am going to show some footage in games. For Cat Interstellar, I actually filmed the beginning of the game and accidentally recorded the entire game. If you want to see what the gameplay is like, you can watch it here.
Stats 1.4 hours 18/18 achievements.
I bought this game in a bundle from Humble Bundle’s store on sale.