Xuhao (Tom) Du
Stray Cat Doors
A simple puzzle game combines with 'soft focus' art style, cozy music and cute characters. Your goal in this game is to find clues then try to open the door in each stage. In the story, there is a little girl wants to find her cat, players need to use their wisdom to help her collect some pieces of a picture which could open the door which blocks the little girl's way in each stage. After they finish each stage, they will get a picture of a part of memory from the little girl as a reward. This is a really common mechanism used in puzzle game, but it works really well. This game couldn't give players a sense of exciting like a 3A game. But it could give people a feeling of peaceful and warm. Just like drinking a cup of hot coffee in cold winter.
The only interaction with each scene is clicking. Players need to click in different area of the scene to find clues which might be hided in a box, or show on a book. During this process, people are allowed to get some items from the scene which they could use to trigger other events or get another clue. So that's it, players just need to solve some preset puzzles to complete each mission. They might have problems with understanding some hints but they will never be stuck by the flow which means every step they make is totally correct, it's a part of the gameplay mechanism. Some people might not like this kind of interaction, because player's choice would not make any changes in the scene. What I mean is that people could complete a stage by solving puzzles in different order, but the puzzles actually won't change all the time. Whenever, they are solved, players will win. There is nothing depends on players' choice in each step. Though this kind of gameplay mechanism might lack varieties, I'd like to say it doesn't matter. Coz people are familiar with solving a puzzle, from child to adult, every exam could be regarded as a puzzle. So it is quite easy to let players get the point, they will get satisfaction whenever they complete one mission. This kind of gameplay mechanism seems not so interactive but it works well.
As you can see, this game choose bright color as its main color tone which give people a kind of positive feeling. And all items and characters are designed like fairy tale style which is easy to convey peaceful and warm feelings. In each stage, designers try to make each one has its own theme. There are six stages in all in this game which themes are yard, garden, sea, Christmas, winter room and flower shop. Each of them is quite different from other stage which keeps people feeling fresh at every stage. Besides the color and the theme, this game also make a lot of cute animation for the little girl, since she is the only human character in the game. So in the game, when you are trying to find clues or thinking how to solve a puzzle, the little girl will start to look around, stretch herself or roll about. There should be at least 5 different actions for the little girl, but I couldn't remember them all. This part give me a lot satisfaction when I'm trying to find a way to win. People love cute things, so this game's art style is really good, at least it fits my taste.
To fit the whole design of this game, most music in this game is slow and deliberate. And because there are different themes in different stages, music will change according to the theme. Like the music in Christmas scene is cheerful, the music in garden is peaceful. Also, the sound effects will also change when players interact with some objects which make players feel good because they get some feedbacks from their action. I'm not trying to say this game's music is outstanding. But at least, I think it is quite suitable for itself.
In my mind, this is a really good and delicate indie game. All the elements in this game work well and each element strengthen others. If you want to change your mind from hard work, I'd like to recommend you to play this game. You just need to spend about an hour (or even less if you are a master of puzzle game) to heal yourself. It's quite a good deal, isn't it?