Who wouldn’t want to run their own cat café?
Probably lots of people. But if it is a dream of yours, now you can, thanks to Cat Cafe Manager, available on PC and Switch. As these things always seem to go, you take on the role of a young adult who’s just inherited their grandmother’s old cat café. Except there’s nothing left when you get there. You’ll need to build it from scratch, using scraps of old furniture to get it up and running. And as your cafe’s popularity grows, so does your income, allowing you to expand, serve more customers, have a larger menu and, of course, take in more stray cats.
You’ll need to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades in Cat Cafe Manager. Not only are you running the café, taking orders, making drinks and serving them, you’re also responsible for ensuring your kitchen remains well stocked, that cats are fed and happy, that your staff are being trained, and that the café is being renovated. Calling this a management sim wouldn’t be quite right, since it’s so much more hands-on than other games in the genre. And that’s no bad thing.
Starting out with a few almost-broken tables and chairs, you can eventually transform your café into a stylish venue where just about every person in town is going to want to hang out. That’s great news for you, because the more customers you serve, the more income you’ll earn. But it’s there where Cat Cafe Manager gets a little complicated, and needlessly so. There’s not just one type of currency in play here; there are six. Customers fall into one of six categories, with each one paying you in a different currency. And those different currencies will be used to buy different items.
To extend your building with new floors and walls you’ll need Materials. And to buy new tables and chairs you’ll need Fabric. Gems, on the other hand, will buy you decorations, while you’ll need Nectar to buy ingredients and new recipes. Fish will be needed to buy cat food and accessories, and you’ll need Gold to buy the highest quality furniture. Phew.
It takes some time to get your head around it, and there’s no denying that one singular currency would have been easier. But if you’re short of one particular type – say, Gems, which you’ll get by serving Artists – you can advertise just for that specific customer type for a while, allowing you to stock up in the areas you need to. And you do progress rather quickly: within an hour or two of playing, our café had been expanded multiple times, with its furniture and menu upgraded too. All currency pours in fairly easily, and as long as you’re accepting all customer types, you should never find yourself too short of any currency.
We’re pretty sure that Cat Cafe Manager would be slightly easier to play on a PC, where you can use a mouse to click around menus, and more easily drag and drop furniture as you decorate your café. But it does work well enough on Switch. You can’t use touchscreen, but the controls are easy enough to get used to. The left stick directly controls your character, and pressing Y will let you interact with a customer, cat or kitchen equipment. Elsewhere, the right trigger will bring up the main in-game menu, where you’ll find everything you need in a radial wheel. Occasionally, finding the right spot to interact with a customer can be fiddly; you’ll need to stand in just the right spot to trigger the interaction prompt. But it’s a minor bug that’s easily worked past.
Ultimately, the day-to-day gameplay of Cat Cafe Manager does get somewhat tedious. You’ll forever be going through the same motions: cleaning up mess, interacting with customers, serving food and drink. Rinse and repeat. But there is fun to be found in growing your cat-filled empire. Seeing your café expand, and replacing old, run-down furnishings with fancy new goods is a joy. And it helps that it all looks so wonderfully cute, too. Don’t expect Cat Cafe Manager to entertain you for weeks, but for fans of cosy sim games, there’s enough here to warrant a purr-chase.
Cat Cafe Manager Review – GameSpew’s Score