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The frontrunner for best video game cats of 2023

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This story is about cats.

But first, you must know the basics of Saltsy Chronicles, The new game from Die Gute Fabrik is coming to Switch, PS5, and PC later this year. We’ve followed the studio for more than 10 years from the experimental PlayStation Move game johan sebastian jost to do in 2012 MutationOne of the best written games of 2019. The studio, which more closely resembles a creative collective, blends compassionate and human stories with bright colors and playfulness.

Saltsy Chronicles It’s not just about cats, but I promise we’re getting there. The studio’s work defies elevator pitches, but let’s give it a go anyway: via Star Trek Kentucky Route Zero With saturation maxed out.

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As in Star Trek, you oversee a group of unlikely allies on a journey to different islands. Each locale has a unique population, as well as a moral, philosophical, or dramatic dilemma to be resolved. You choose where the crew does and doesn’t travel, who steps ashore, what they say, and what conclusions they bring to those waiting on the ship – then set off on the next adventure. but tends to the mood Kentucky Route ZeroDie Gute Fabric’s Own Mutationand his contemporaries who blur the lines between sport, theater and literature.

Now in theory, all this narcotics should be the most interesting thing about the game, and let me dive deep into the many mechanics of it. But in practice, toxoplasmosis, Like a tabby on catnip in a room full of scratching posts, I drifted through my demo, distracted by one particular island and its furry population.

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A short GIF from Saltsy Chronicles shows a colorful world populated by cats.

Image: Dye Gut Fabric

the island of los gatos is full of humans And cat’s. Lots of cats The game’s beautiful art direction borrows from papercutting and vector graphics, so cats aren’t represented by specific breeds so much as prong-eared, squiggly-tailed blobs. They are adorable.

Cats take naps on the beach, gather at doorways, sit on rails, and hide in windows. The world is shaped in his image, such as a mountain with a feline silhouette and a housing district shaped like a cat tree. Inside one structure, humans and kittens keep warm near a massive hearth shaped like a yawning cat’s head. And everything is covered in soft, plush fabric.

initial appeal of Saltsy Chronicles, like so many casual sportswear, is a stretch. Die Gute Fabrik has worked hard on ways for cats to swat at butterflies and wag their tails coyly. Objectives (little dots hovering over certain people and places) will guide you to narratively important bits, but they’re just one of many things to do. You can try to solve local problems, although some problems may not be solved. Or you can just collect stickers for your calendar. Either way, people lounge around Los Gatos, waiting to chat, although who you start a conversation with is entirely up to you.

A colorful view of Los Gatos in Saltsy Chronicles.  There's an orange cat-shaped mountain and a structure that resembles a cat tree, all rendered in a bright art style with blobs of color and no outlines.

Image: Dye Gut Fabric

The trip to Los Gatos is not mission-critical. Depending on the choices you make during your quest, you may never come ashore. This is intentional – the creators have filled the game with so much story that, they hope, the player will want to travel several times.

Not only will you see different islands, but you can also take on different characters depending on the different lenses through which you view them. You can choose to take on the adventure of balancing parenting with a cuddly baby or a new caretaker. A team of creative and writing collaborators has been instrumental in giving meaning to each of these characters’ lives and their journeys.

It’s a theme that repeats itself throughout our hour with the game: We get a more complete picture of the universe by including more perspectives. For example, many islands have a similar card game, although the different house rules reflect the community’s approach. In one version, you lose if you get more than 100 points – a nod to the locals’ post-hoarding mentality.

Yes, in the early moments it is clear how Saltsy ChroniclesThe structure will replicate typical Star Trek episodes, and how the game will reflect a classic season. (It’s telling that there will be an option in the game itself that encourages breaks from the screen between islands, similar to breaks between episodes of the show.) But through Los Gatos, Star Trek’s creators go further than the comparison. Is.

While I hiked from room to room of the cat-stuffed island, I learned the less obvious function of its communal homes: Los Gatos also serves as a sanctuary for victims of domestic violence. It’s a heavy layer that rests on an otherwise comfortable sequence, and my teeth clench, worrying that the two tones will clash. But the opposite happens. The team at Die Gute Fabrik uses this fantasy world to ease you into more challenging conversations.

It’s the fruit of the collaboration of so many talented writers, and the game’s own intrinsic leisurely pace makes subtlety possible.

Therefore Saltsy Chronicles, for a moment, appears to be the most beloved game of the year. until it becomes more. I look forward to visiting its many other islands when the game is released later this year, not only to see their beauty, but to hear what their residents have to say.

In Saltsy Chronicles a cat lazily rolls around as a butterfly flutters around it.  Both creatures are colorful but the colourful, whimsical art style lacks detail.

Image: Dye Gut Fabric

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