I spent a lot of E3 2021 taking a look at some of the great indie games coming out soon, one of which is Roost Games’ Cat Cafe Manager. Published by Freedom Games, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like based on its title: A fun, cat-loving, management sim game with some RPG elements.
During my preview, I was chatting with Rick Sorgdrager, one of the developers working on the game. As he played, he introduced me to some of the game’s main features and we chatted about a variety of topics, most notably CATS! I asked about the game’s inspiration and Rick told me that he’d grown “addicted” to cat cafes when living in Japan in 2013. He’s been delighted to see similar cafes turning up all around the world. In addition, Rick indicated that, while no one on the team has a cat, they all love them and are addicted to cat memes like most of the planet. Following up on that, Rick told me that all of the cats starring in the game are unique with their own likes and dislikes and just might be modeled after some of the most famous cats in the memedom. However, due to potential legal issues, there aren’t any “named” felines in CCM.
Rick described the game, “We see it almost like a cross between a management/business sim with a bit of Pokemon flair thrown in. All cats have stats and traits and personalities. Players will come to know characters through visual novel-style interactions and they will need to work to develop relationships with their customers. We were inspired in a bunch of different places such as the gameplay and style of Stardew Valley, for instance.”
As with most great games, CCM begins with a story. Players learn that they have inherited Grandma’s cat cafe in Caterwaul Village. Unlike some of the real-world cafe counterparts, this one is a bit on the rundown side. It’s up to us to restore it to its former glory. Along the way, players are challenged to win the trust of stray cats and bring them into the cafe, their new fur-ever home. But no cafe is worth much without customers bringing in the green. Besides catering to the needs of the feline population, players will need to fulfill the wishes of the human customers as well. This is where the RPG elements come into play.
In short, players will need to adopt stray cats, manage the staff and supply lines for the cafe, expand the cafe by unlocking new building materials and furniture items, cater to the needs of different customers, befriend locals, and discover the mystery behind the ancient cat shrine tucked away in a nearby forest. Every aspect of the game is designed to uniquely blend several different game genres and it seems that this one is actually pulling it off.
Business management sims are quite popular, however, not everyone is cut out for them. I asked Rick about whether or not someone who is terrible at management sims could find success in CCM.
Rick answered, “CCM is a relaxing business sim where you don’t have to get into the weeds of profit margin, etc. We give you the tools to build the cat cafe of your dreams and invite friends to share that experience. It is simple to pick up, difficult to master but you won’t be punished for making less optimal choices. You decide when you want to ramp up your difficulty.”
I discovered that he was right. In most management sims, I tend to get frustrated by the mechanics and the complexity that many of them present. However, during my time playing CCM, I found that it gave me a sense of success without overwhelming me with minutiae. In addition, I absolutely adore the comic book-style graphics of the game. While they definitely hearken back to an 8-bit style, they are much smoother and more modern, something I truly appreciate.
Cat Cafe Manager is expected to be released for both PC and Nintendo Switch in early 2022. From what I saw during my time with Rick and in my own experience with the game, it’s shaping up to be a cute, fun, and relaxing way to spend a few hours with furry friends. You can wishlist it on Steam already.