Cats are sneaky little gits. They scratch, they hiss, and they're rarely, if ever, cute. Hey, we're dog people, what can we say? [Disclaimer: Hmm, we're probably 50/50 on staff. And dogs are smelly. - Ed.] When you finally get your hands on Little Kitty, Big City in 'early 2024', however, we wouldn't begrudge you instantly falling in love with the mischievous little felines, because that's exactly what happened to us when we went hands-on with the game at Summer Game Fest.
Taking place within, uh, a big city, you play as a nameless kitten who, after stretching a little too far on a windowsill, tumbles into the streets below. Shaving off one of its nine lives, the kitty picks itself up and sets off on an adventure filled with unique characters, quirky puzzles, and lots of custom kitty hats. Your ultimate goal is to get back home, but like all good adventures, the fun is in the journey itself, and Little Kitty, Big City is stuffed to the brim with fun things to do and places to see.
Getting to grips with the controls, what was immediately apparent was just how life-like the cat is. Despite the stylised visuals, exceptional care has gone into making the protagonist feel as authentically feline as possible. Slinking across the ground, crawling through holes, and batting plant pots off walls all look remarkably real, and we wondered whether the animation had been achieved through some sort of motion capture. Developer Double Dagger Studio clarified that, no, the animation was instead done entirely by hand, and frankly we're astounded at how good it is.
Starting to make our way around the city, we noticed that numerous sections of the road and pavements were covered in water, spilled from a nearby object. This is the developer's way of letting you know that certain pathways are blocked since cats don't tend to like water. So instead, you'll need to use your skills to bypass the water in other ways, be it jumping up onto a wall and sneaking around, or perhaps crawling through a hole in a fence to find an entirely different route. Little Kitty Big City does a great job at hinting toward your next objective without outright holding your hand.
On the way through the city, we bumped into a number of cute, cuddly characters that seemed willing to help our little kitty in return for a favour. One significantly larger cat wanted us to gather a bunch of feathers from some unsuspecting birds nearby, and it's here that we really got to grips with how the light stealth mechanics work.
We had two options for gathering the feathers. The first was to simply crawl slowly towards the birds so as not to startle them. It's tricky, but we managed to pull it off a couple of times. Once you're close enough, you hold down the jump button and a marker will indicate where you'll be landing from your jump. Line it up with the bird and pounce. Done.
The second is significantly easier and basically requires you to run into a passing human, causing them to drop a piece of bread. Pick up the bread and drop it near the birds. They'll swoop down and gobble it up, giving you the perfect opportunity to sneak behind them and grab that feather.
The demo we played did include a number of bugs, including getting stuck in a wall and being unable to jump up onto ledges properly. Double Dagger is already well aware of what needs fixing prior to launch and is dead set on making Little Kitty, Big City the best it can be so that it sticks the landing (paws down) on Switch.
Needless to say, if you're a fan of lighthearted, animal-led indie experiences like Untitled Goose Game, then Little Kitty, Big City is going to be right up your alley. It's incredibly charming, full of fun things to do, and bursting at the seams with adorable hats to collect (including a frog hat that we were quite taken with). If the developers can lick the game into shape, preened and polished in time for its current release window of 'early 2024', then we have a feeling this could wind up being a real indie darling. For such a little kitty, it ended up being our biggest, most pleasant surprise from all the SGF Play Days demos.
What do you make of Little Kitty, Big City so far? Reckon it will prove itself to be a worthy companion to, say, Untitled Goose Game? Let us know in the comments below.