Reviewing VR games is tricky. This is my first VR review, and I realized I cannot approach it the same way I would approach a “traditional” game review. VR goes beyond traditional games in that it must physically place the gamer in that world, the oft-repeated but still entirely relevant “presence.”
Priced at $15, Konrad’s Kittens from developer FusionPlay isn’t a new game per se. It released in February 2018 and has had several updates since. Per the Steam page, the game claims that Konrad the kitten is, “the first virtual cat that feels like a real one.”
I’ll admit, I’ve always been a dog person. But I was nevertheless half intrigued and half amused to check this game out. So, just how does Konrad’s Kittens get on? This is our review of Konrad’s Kittens VR.
I reviewed this game on an HTC Vive. Having bought one earlier this year for my birthday, I’ve been diving into various VR games ever since. In my frank opinion, VR is not a gimmick, and lends itself to experiences that traditional games simply cannot accomplish.
Konrad’s Kittens visual style is more cartoony than, say, Valve’s The Lab or I-Illusions’ Space Pirate Trainer. This only serves to complement its extremely chill and friendly gameplay. Like all other VR games I own, the gameplay was buttery smooth as is required for the simulation to work properly. Granted, I am running this HTC Vive on a pretty powerful PC, but I don’t imagine more modest PCs will have any trouble running Konrad’s Kittens.
The first thing the game has you do is sit down. I thought this odd at first, but then remembered that Konrad’s Kittens is supposed to be somewhat of a cat sim. The game even recommends that you place a cushion on the floor first before sitting down. I obediently complied.
It’s probably best at this point to describe my play area. My VR play area is roughly a 7.5 feet by 6.75 feet section of my game room — plenty large for a VR experience. The Vive’s excellent chaperon system gently reminds you when you’re getting too close to the edge of your play area, however, because of the sit-down nature of Konrad’s Kittens, this wasn’t really necessary.
After this, the game begins with a tutorial of sorts where you are introduced to the core mechanics of the game. In short, whenever you want Konrad to do something, you pick him up by simply moving your wand controller over him. This picks him where you can observe his current needs by simply moving him closer to your face. If you have a plush toy, you can even substitute this for Konrad for a more tactile experience. Alas, I own no such plushies and thus could not partake.
Just like a real kitten (I suppose), Konrad will want play time, food, and will need to poop. This is accomplished by moving to various rooms by moving to an icon on the ground for that respective room. This then teleports you seamlessly to that room. Fairly straightforward.
Everything Konrad can do requires energy, represented by a blue bar. If you complete an action, you get the chance to collect hearts. Collecting hearts allows you to level up, unlock new areas, and progresses you towards mini games, like mouse hunting. Mouse hunting is essentially wack-a-mole where you use Konrad to literally squish mice before they get to the cheese traps. Yes, I was giggling the whole time.
Once you play mini games, you get Paw Coins which can be used to buy cosmetics for Konrad like hats, sunglasses, suits, etc. This is the “gamey” aspect of this sim, which I suspect is a concession to keep a core loop active. It’s Pawesome!
Bringing Konrad close to you allows you to cuddle with him, which I have to admit was a bit weird. I get what the developers are going for here, but the execution feels off. Konrad goes into a cuddle pose and just floats there because you, the player, do not have an avatar in the game. So Konrad just awkwardly floats in mid-air until you bring him away again, which feels a bit dissonant.
Konrad isn’t the only kitten in the game, however. There are other kittens in the game which you must help find since they can be scattered throughout the world. Upon finding them, Konrad can interact with them by, for example, giving them a bath by licking them, and once complete, you return these kittens to their basket. It’s just another mechanic in the game.
This then is essentially the core loop in the game. Throughout my experience, Konrad’s Kittens felt like one part cat sim and one part game. There is a degree of micromanagement involved, but I suspect there is a segment of gamers out there who will find this appealing. I found it just fine. Not terrible. Not amazing. Just fine.
If you are a cat person, or just like sim-type micromanagement-type games, and you own a VR headset — because let’s not forget about that requirement — then I think you might like it. As a VR experience, it definitely did its job of making me feel like I was in a different place, but it did not really convince me that I was taking care of another living thing. Considering the game claims that it’s “the first virtual cat that feels like a real one,” it ultimately fell a bit short here.
Compare to: I honestly don’t know. Tamagotchi but VR?