Let sleeping cats lie
Developer: Chillingo Release Date: 10 January 2013 Review Platform: iOS
A pop-quiz style question: what do cats dream about at night?
If you answered ‘Fish’, ‘Yarn’, or the top answer ‘Nuclear Fission’ (it’s true), then you’re either very knowledgeable about cats, or you are a cat. If the latter is true, stop reading immediately. This is unprecedented. Have you realised you’re a cat who can read? Email me, we’ll both make money. I have contacts in the cat entertainment industry.
In a warm and cozy house somewhere warm and cozy, an adorably cute and fluffy kitten has fallen asleep and is providing the answer to a slightly unhinged British reviewer’s pop-quiz question by dreaming of yarn. Because Grandma, who looks after said kitten, has also nodded off, it’s up you to make kitty’s dreams a reality and ensure the neglected ball of yarn on each level finds it’s way over to her. You do this by swiping to set the ball in motion, then using objects in the environment such as strategically placed piles of magazines to bounce the yarn into kitty’s path, thus waking her up.
Any cat dumb enough to sleep next to a radioactive model train deserves what's coming to them.
Now if you’re like me (and for your own health I sincerely hope you’re not), this might look suspiciously like animal cruelty. Chucking a ball of yarn at a cat to wake them up? Disturbing an innocent kitten from their sleep? Is that not a form of abuse?
I’ll leave you to ponder that one. Meanwhile, ‘Wake The Cat’ is a great physics puzzler that has made me use my noggin more than any game in recent memory. And that includes a 17 hour game of scrabble I had with my wife over Christmas. Once you get past the simple first levels where nothing but your finger stands between kitty and the yarn (that’s you swiping the yarn towards the cat, not your disembodied digit lying on the screen), all manner of weird and head-scratchingly obtuse obstacles come into play; from toy trains which trundle along their tracks and provide another surface for you to bounce the yarn off, to slippers which teleport the yarn to different areas of the screen. Slippers, I might add, I would be very fearful of putting my feet in.
An appreciation of timing and angles therefore becomes very important. Additions such as fans which blow the yarn off course, sticky tape, and of course, a combination of all of them in one level really ramps up the difficulty, and at times will leave you wondering just how on earth you’re supposed to get that darned yarn across the floor. I had particular trouble when the desk fans were first introduced, and ploughed through about 12 balls of yarn before accidentally realising what I had to do. (Hint: fans can’t blow forever).
For a cat who dreams about yarn, it sure knows how to decrease it's chances of getting some.
At times it can get frustrating. Sometimes you’ll roll the yarn and miss, only for it to take ages slowing down; the game not moving onto the next level until it completely stops. The ball can only travel in straight lines, so just when you think you’ve outsmarted it and believe that a curveball is the most obvious answer, you’ll have to go straight back to the drawing board. The game is also pretty strict on making you figure out the exact manner in which to succeed, and there’s little leeway for creativity, or what I suppose the game would call a near miss. Get it right, or don’t get it at all.
Thankfully it isn’t completely merciless. It throws you a bone by giving you access to a hint (which shows you exactly what to do) every now and then. Or to be more exact, once every hour. Oh yes, if you want to hint your way through the game, you’ll have to pony up some cash for the privilege.
Aside from this not-exactly-generous system, you do catch a break with the level titles which occasionally give you a small clue – ‘Catch the train’ is both the name of the stage, and a hint letting you know that bouncing the yarn off the train is the way to go, and after a failed level, the path of your previous attempt is traced out on-screen, at least giving you an idea of where not to go. You can use it as a reference to adjust your next attempt until you get it right. That’s three massive hints I’ve given you there. You should be able to complete the game in less than half an hour with that lot.
Good luck with that one.
Everything's made up of nice 3D visuals with pretty lighting, and the soundtrack is a charming, whimsical thing that promises mischievous adventures and suits it perfectly. Funnily enough, as nice as the graphics are, I think the 2D cartoon style of the loading screens fit the game much better. But hey, what the heck do I know about game design? Absolutely nowt, that’s what. That’s why I’m stuck reviewing them for a living.
‘Wake the Cat’ is a classic puzzler that will keep you entertained for a while, and is great for short bursts of play. I would suggest however, that you don’t make a habit of teasing kittens in real life. Once you start doing that, it’s only a matter of time before you turn into a serial killer. You have been warned.