Embark on an extraordinary journey in Cattails: Wildwood Story, a revamped version of the original Cattails that whisks players away to the mysterious world of Wildwood. For ages, three colonies of cats thrived under their deity, the Forest Guardian, until a calamitous earthquake and tornado shattered their sacred temple and left the Guardian in a weakened state. Now players guide the world’s feline inhabitants to the uncharted territory of Wildwood on a mission to erect a new temple and rescue the Forest Guardian.
Cattails: Wildwood Story
PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 20, 2023
Sidequest was provided with a copy of Cattails: Wildwood Story for PC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Wildwood Story not only upholds the legacy of the original Cattails, but enriches the gaming experience with expanded mechanics and a captivating, immersive world. The non-playable cats (NPCs) now engage in rival marriages, complemented by new crafting mechanics, an innovative mail system, and the freedom of complete customization for your cat’s appearance and den. Fresh faces join returning characters, enabling players to attract and recruit a diverse array of cats to their burgeoning colony. If you, like me, are looking for an escape, prepare to be drawn into the enchanting beauty of Wildwood as you guide your colony to prosperity once more.
Building upon the foundation of its predecessor, Wildwood Story preserves familiar activities like hunting, foraging, fighting, mining, exploration, friendship, and marriage. However, the game introduces a plethora of enhancements and novel features. Experience a world like never before with an expanded hunting system, real-time action combat, and an all-new gardening mechanic.
Expanding on the previous game, Wildwood Story introduces three different hunting styles: Quick Time, Coin Toss, and Immersive. Players can switch between these styles at any point during the game. Quick time is a new feature in Wildwood Story. In Quick Time mode, a timing bar appears after the player launches a pounce. To catch prey successfully, players must stop the cursor within the green area, which, depending on the distance and rarity of the target, will be more or less challenging. If players land a “perfect,” they gain extra experience points.
Skills play a crucial role in Wildwood Story, enhancing players’ abilities and giving them an edge against hostile encounters. Players can equip and use up to four different skills simultaneously. However, there are varying cooldown periods before each skill can be activated again. Within the players’ den, they will find the Scratching Post. There they can access and manage their skills. At the Scratching Post, players equip skills, unlock skills using experience points, and upgrade existing skills.
Wildwood Story has a lot of potential. The boss fights are both challenging and enjoyable, and the minigames for festivals are cute and fun. The Spring Festival minigame is Mouse Chase, where players have one minute to catch mice that dart across the screen. Different mice have different point values. Regular mice are worth one point and golden mice are worth five, but running into a rat deducts three points. The only thing that I didn’t like was that I wasn’t told the score at the end—I was left wondering if I was getting a consolation prize or first prize.
On the world map, bars indicate the level of influence your colonies hold in each area. You’ll encounter various creatures, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds. Keep a keen eye on your separate health and hunger bars, as honing your hunting skills becomes crucial. Both the passage of time and your actions deplete your food meter, requiring you to actively maintain it. While herbs and rest offer healing, herbs may run out quickly, and resting doesn’t fully restore your health. You might find yourself compelled to spend Mews, the in-game currency, at the clinic.
The world’s customizable, “you choose” vibe carries into the marriage candidates. When I was a young girl, my world revolved around a tiger-striped cat aptly named Tiger. I’d often playfully express to him that if he were a human, I’d marry him. Now, thanks to Wildwood Story, I get to fulfill my four-year-old self’s whimsical dream. The NPCs in the game are a delightful mix of complex and adorable. Among them, my absolute favorite is the eccentric Krampy, donning his plague doctor mask. Whether he’s diligently tending to the clinic or working in his laboratory, concocting mad experiments, there’s an undeniable charm to his quirky ardor—a beak-masked kitty with a passion for the unconventional.
A downside of Wildwood Story is the tutorial—or lack thereof—which expects a level of familiarity from players, almost as if the developers assumed players were well-acquainted with the ins and outs of the first game. However, it becomes apparent that some finer details and nuances have been overlooked, creating an experience that might not be seamless for newcomers or those seeking a more comprehensive experience. At times, the game tends to tread on the side of simplicity, leaving me quietly longing for a bit more pizazz and variety. The combat mechanics, unfortunately, contribute to this sentiment, feeling somewhat lackluster. Despite the game’s attempts to add interest with a range of skills and captivating boss fights, assailants simply strike at you, lacking the depth and engagement that could elevate the overall experience. The game throws in all these skills and boss showdowns to spice up the combat, but honestly, the battles can feel a bit repetitive. This sentiment is amplified by the fact that I often listen to my Japanese lessons or an audiobook while playing. While this multitasking is sometimes enjoyable, it highlights a feeling of disengagement from the gameplay, which, at times, comes off as monotonous and lacking depth.
Despite these issues, I still found Cattails: Wildwood Story to be engaging and enjoyable. I would recommend the game to any cat lover or anyone who enjoys roleplaying games or lifestyle sims like Stardew Valley or Ooblets. The game has a lot of heart and is sure to provide hours of fun.
Kamie Wootan is a fiction writer and poet from Bozeman, Montana. She has a MLITT in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling. When Kamie isn’t writing, she is reading, playing a video game, hanging out with her amazing son, or working on her latest hobby.
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