Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Cat Cafe Manager is a simulation game developed by Roost Games and it is their only current released title. In this game, players get to run their cat cafe where they hire staff, purchase products, and give the cats a forever home. Inventory management and upgrading the business are required to flourish as a popular cat cafe. It’s a title that after playing over the last couple of weeks, I can say Cat Cafe Manager is a fantastic and relaxing game whose core loop is enjoyable to a point.
Cat Cafe Manager is a cute little animated game that takes place in Caterwaul Way. It is suitable for all ages as it has no mature content. Plus, there is an intriguing mystery relating to the cat shrine where players access the skill tree. The premise of this title is to give the cats up for adoption while running a successful cafe. Despite that fact, players don’t have to deal with any of the additional costs that real cat cafes have, like vet bills and the like.
Throughout the game, players get to design their cafe with building tools. However, since the focus is on the management of the cafe, the design elements are lacking. Regardless, I found it entertaining to expand my business by hiring staff, adding products to the menu, and creating a cafe through the build menu. And since the game focuses more on management, it has some common elements with other simulation games. For example, each server has specific skills they excel at which can be leveled up. Having the ability to increase menu options adds to the complexity of the gameplay. However, one of the best elements of Cat Cafe Manager is its skill tree. Where most restaurant sims require the purchase of recipes to progress, this game unlocks items and products through the skill tree. To gain enough points to advance, you will have to level up your friendships!
As for that mystery I mentioned, you’ll just have to find out for yourselves!
The first thing a cat cafe needs is cats! First, players lure some cats to the establishment. Then the fun really begins! Keep in mind that you can only adopt one cat at a time after gaining its trust. Each cat has a couple of stats that they begin with. These stats are affinities to specific types of citizens. Having a well-rounded group of cats that like the clients is never a bad idea. These stats are increased through leveling allowing trait upgrades or getting additional perks. For example, one of my cats has the ‘sweet tooth’ trait which adds 10% to the client’s nectar payout. In my opinion, the ability to cater to the cat’s stats and traits to clients adds a small level of strategy that I wasn’t expecting. I quite like that the cats level up in Cat Cafe Manager.
At some point, players will need to give the cats up for adoption so that they can save other cats. Adopting a cat is done through the community board and is self-explanatory. Townsfolk each have a preference of cat by its stats. Pick the right cat for the job and the deal is done! What’s interesting about this feature is that players can see all of the cats (housed and not) in the cat menu located at the bottom left of the screen. Overall, I do like the ability to bring in specific cats to be strategic about currency generation. Plus, the cats are cute!
After purchasing food and drink for the cafe, players can hire staff to assist them. While I enjoy the ability to hire staff, I found that since there is no way to set them to a specific table or area, it became little more than a cookie clicker over time. In my opinion, Cat Cafe Manager would be better served to allow assignment options so that players aren’t competing with the AI. That said, players can focus on other tasks like cleaning, purchasing products, and upgrading skills while the servers go about the mundane aspects of the game.
Not only will servers ease the load of customer requests, but servers can also increase in level. This allows the servers the ability to make more complex recipes and drinks. Alternatively, players can level themselves up to do the more complex tasks and leave the AI to take on the simple orders. The fun thing about Cat Cafe Manager is that each server has its specialties and traits which enable cleaning or repair skills. Other than that, I do like that we can bring on different staff members to help with the cafe duties. I just wish there was a bit more to it.
As a simulation game, the business management of Cat Cafe Manager is excellent. Players need to shop at different locations to have sellable products. They also have to upgrade their cafes to facilitate more clients. This is where the marketing aspect of the game becomes critical. As players open their doors to the townsfolk, they will need to keep clients happy to gain the different currency used for various recipes and materials. For example, the witches pay in nectar that players need to purchase recipes and ingredients. Other townspeople provide different resources like wood, fish, jewels, and gold. To gain currency, each citizen’s preference must be met to raise their happiness level. How this plays into the marketing strategy is that players can toggle advertising on or off for specific citizens. Doing this allows players the ability to target the currency they need to prosper.
Another aspect of the business that players will be working on is the hiring of staff done at a community board. The board also shows citizens who are looking for cats to adopt. Often, the potential staff members will have different affinities that players can focus on leveling a specific skill set. That said, for a management simulation game, the simplistic design of Cat Cafe Manager has a drawback. Not only are there no options to assign specific tables or areas in the cafe to the staff (to reduce confusion of orders), but it creates a bit of a detriment in the core gameplay loop. I found that I had very little to do once I hired staff. In fact, for a while, I did not level a server up as a cleaner just so I’d have something to do!
Graphics and UI
The graphics in Cat Cafe Manager are cartoony and cute which seems like it is hand-drawn. It is an aesthetic that I enjoy for this title. It’s a 2-dimensional side-scrolling game that is charming for players that enjoy indie titles. One can’t help but smile at the game because of the ease of gameplay and the cute cats! I did mention that, didn’t I?
As for the UI of the game, it’s quite easy to understand. All of the resources are displayed in the top left of the screen including the experience bars of the cats and the servers. In the top right, players see what day they are on and the time of day in 24-hour time. Finally, the bottom of the screen displays how many cats you have on the right. On the left, are the menus for the cats, the servers, the food menu, advertising toggles, the build menu, and the map of the town.
In terms of building expansion, I found it disappointing that objects remain fixed once placed. Furthermore, players cannot place windows on the back wall. While I appreciate the option to customize our cafe, the game doesn’t yet have enough tools to make customizing satisfying for the player. That said, functionally the ability to add or move windows doesn’t change anything in gameplay since players can’t see them at all!
Pros and Cons
Cat Cafe Manager is a great game that has its pros and cons. Some of its pros are its presentation, ability to level servers and cats, and the customizing of your cafe with furniture.
Some of the cons include things like the lack of customization in the build menu, minor input lag issues, and servers taking over too many of the tasks which make the gameplay redundant over time. I also became quite sick of the audio loop quickly. Perhaps some kind of cafe radio would be a fantastic addition to the game since cafes have a distinct atmosphere. And while I do enjoy this title, I find that it’s missing something to make it a home run.
Summary and Rating
Cat Cafe Manager is a fantastic relaxing game that I enjoyed for a while. Unfortunately, the title becomes dull because there’s simply not enough to do. Despite its cute graphics style, the title needs something a bit more dynamic to be a successful hit. Though, if players are looking for a game that requires very little input or one that is safe for the family to enjoy, Cat Cafe Manager is a purrrfect choice!Score: 8 / 10