I’m always here for unique little indie games, and Little Kitty, Big City from Seattle’s Double Dagger Studio is one of the most promising I’ve seen in that regard in a while.
At Summer Game Fest Play Days in Los Angeles, I got to go hands-on with the charming little cat simulator and came away very impressed. I should also mention that I’m not even a cat person.
Right off the bat, people’s first inclination when seeing a game about a cat would be to think about last year’s Stray. But besides that similar premise, the games couldn’t really be more different. While Stray took place in a cyberpunk dystopia, Little Kitty, Big City is much more lighthearted. Using a simple but effective aesthetic and cute and lively animations, Double Dagger — led by former Counter Strike: GO developer Matt T. Wood — has created a welcoming vibe to the game that gives it a huge amount of charm. Instead of surviving in a bleak post-apocalypse, your only task, after falling out of a window, is to navigate an urban city and get back home.
Although the game is light on narrative beyond that, there’s still surprisingly fun writing throughout the world. Our cat protagonist actually talks to animals she meets in the world, and this dialogue has an engaging degree of wit to it. A particular highlight is a crow who fancies himself a savvy business tycoon, steering you in the right direction of collectibles to find to trade with him. Some of these include “gotcha-style” capsules that unlock new cosmetics for the cat. Another feline you meet, meanwhile, teaches you to pounce on birds in one activity to collect their feathers and quickly admonishes you for thinking you were going to actually hurt them otherwise.
Overall, the game also embraces the fact that cats can be, well, assholes. At any time, you can pull either trigger to have the cat paw left or right, which you can do to knock over objects, like potted plants on a ledge or a man’s cans of paint on a canvas. In some cases, there are even soccer balls that you can try to navigate into a nearby net. These little activities help keep the moment-to-moment gameplay fresh; while it’s by no means truly an open world, you’re given the option to head into a side alley or parking lot to see what’s down there.
Wood told me he wants to encourage players to come back to areas as they obtain new abilities later on, but he’s quick to point out this is more Resident Evil-inspired than pure Metroidvania-style. There’s something to be said about a game just letting you explore at your leisure without any sort of forced combat or heavy story matter to weigh it down. Essentially, this is just “be a cat and go nuts in a city,” and it’s all the better for it.
What’s more, if Stray showed us anything, it’s that an approachable cat game has a wide appeal, and Little Kitty, Big City, with its emphasis on laidback cat activities, could be an even bigger hit. The fact that the game focuses on various activities to diversify its gameplay instead of throwing in a form of combat, which is something that plagued Stray’s later hours, should only make it more enticing to casual audiences. Whether you’re a fan of cats or simply like relaxing, non-violent games, Little Kitty, Big City should absolutely be on your radar.
Little Kitty, Big City is coming to Nintendo Switch, Xbox consoles (plus Game Pass) and PC in early 2024.
Image credit: Double Dagger Studio
Update: 13/06/2023 at 10:09pm ET — Updated to include mention of an Xbox version of the game.