For the Cats

Nominally, this is about earning enough coal (the local currency) to save a litter of cats from an unscrupulous (we assume) seller. What it is, really, is an exploration of a bleak, industrial world where the grass is grey, the sun is rarely seen, and the best thing you can do is leave. Though not explicitly stated at the beginning, this quest to rescue the cats is something of a symbolic gesture: an attempt to do something that matters in a world where nothing else does.

The story is presented in a CYOA format. Our first choice is a matter of who we are, and some of the options open or close depending on this first choice. Not all of the outcomes have to do with the simple matter of purchasing the cats; in some cases, we can find other ways of adopting them -- or not, as the case may be. The game lists ten possible outcomes to our choices.

That said, our attempt to earn the necessary coal is not terribly involved. I don't think this is the real point of the story -- it's not a resource management sim. The point, really, seems to be an exploration of this bleak world and the options available to us therein. And I found the experience pretty immersive, from the landscape, to the desperation of the people applying for emergency coal at the market, to the operations of the factory. There's something about the situation that seems inherently humorous, and at least one story branch seems to live on that, yet there's no escaping the fact that this world is not a good place to be.

As a breakfast, this might be a granola smoothie with a few cranberry nuggets thrown in. It's kind of uniform from top to bottom, and maybe it seems a little joyless in its utilitarianism; but the flavour is everything.