Author – Daniel Rodriguez (@Fandible)
Where to Buy – https://fandible.itch.io/cats-corpses
Cats will eat you after you die, and they won’t even wait that long to dig in. That’s the sunny premise of Daniel Rodriguez’s solo journaling game Cats & Corpses. I mean, it’s more that just that. A good bit more, actually. But it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting into because, well, it can be powerfully dark. So, gather a deck of cards, a pen, some paper, and get ready to be a little bummed out…but in a good way!
In Cats & Corpses, you play the ghost of a recently deceased person with no memory of how you died. Regardless of who you were, there are two central truths to your story now:
- You died in your home where you lived alone
- You owned a cat that you love/loved very much.
The game takes place over fourteen days immediately after your death. During this time, you can interact with your cat and the world around you in an effort to keep your kitty happy your corpse un-nibbled, and to figure out why you shuffled off this mortal coil.
The reason behind your death is determined by four random cards drawn face-down at the start of the game. Ideally, you will reveal all of these cards as you haunt your apartment and begin to remember important details of your life. Over the course of your game, you must keep track of your ectoplasm (representing your ties to the physical world) and your cat’s contentment. You can spend the ectoplasm to interact with the world, experiencing memories and hopefully revealing the truth of your death. If your ectoplasm reaches zero, your tie to the world frays and your spirit departs, ending the game. If your cat’s contentment runs out…let’s just say its hunger outweighs any guilt it has about sampling the local fare.
The game is grim. There’s no getting around that. It is also beautiful, truth be told. I’ve played this game twice now and the first time I was not in the right place mentally to deal with the theme, which was my fault and not the fault of the game. Two weeks later I was in a better mindset and I thought I’d try it again because, as challenging as that first playthrough was, the story stuck with me. My second playthrough was every bit as gloomy as the first, but I started to appreciate the game for what it was and how it made me feel.
Cats & Corpses feels important. It makes players confront uncomfortable truths about mortality, memory, and what we all leave behind (though hopefully not suddenly and alone). For me, it felt like a $3.00, 18-page therapy session that left me a little raw and vulnerable, but satisfied. This is a good game. It may be 100% Type 2 Fun but it if you’re looking for an elegant system that delivers an emotional impact, look no further. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pet my cat.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. Also, I’ll be lucky if my cat waits for me to be dead before she starts eating me. She’s an irascible former stray with a crippling catnip dependency and a penchant for attacking the feet of those who dare walk too close to her bed when she’s resting.
And I love her.