Updated May 25th, 2022: Please see amendment at the bottom of the article!
Tired of the big city grind? Looking for new surroundings and a worthwhile cause to dedicate your life to? You’re in luck – your grandmother has left you her cat café, located in the small town of Caterwaul Way. It’s a chance to start fresh, make friends, and build great things! That’s what you’ll find in Roost Games’ Cat Café Manager, a comfy business management sim about running a café, taking care of cats, and even a little bit of saving the day.
I have to start this review by being completely honest – there are a lot of bugs, and many of them have existed since review copies of the game were available and still haven’t been fixed. Some of them are harmless enough, like my staff numbers showing that I have a maximum of -12 spots. Others are more disruptive, like the numerous random crashes that eventually led to me no longer playing because it became exhausting to restart the game, remember what I had done since the last save or autosave, and then have it happen all over again. I hoped updating to the full release would help, but it hasn’t and several of the reviews I’ve seen have had the same issues. Until those bugs are fixed, I can’t really recommend Cat Café Manager as much as I want to.
Cat Café Manager is a management sim where you start with a tiny café and build the space of your dreams – there are lots of pieces of furniture to customize your space and your theme. As you get further on, you can make your café bigger and bigger to create different rooms and spaces. Whether your vibe is American diners from the 50s, nerd chic, or fancy tea rooms, anything is doable!
Most of the mechanics will be familiar and intuitive to anyone who’s played a restaurant sim before – you hire staff, collect ingredients, unlock dishes, and serve customers throughout the day. As you continue to build your space and hire new people, your café will become more self-sufficient. There are several types of customers to serve, and each gives a special type of currency that can be used for different stores in town. Need ingredients? Serve some witches! Special furniture pieces might need you to save up payments from businesspeople and artists. You can change who you’re advertising to if you need to focus on a certain purchase. In the top corner of the screen you’ll see helpful tips about what you can do next or what you need for unlocked dishes.
Cat Café Manager’s special mechanic is in adopting, raising, and finding forever homes for the fluffy stray citizens of Caterwaul’s cat population. Each cat can be raised to cater toward a certain type of person, letting you match them to the perfect family. With special lures, you can get lots of special kitties as well – part of the fun of playing was discovering what type of cat I would bring in with each new lure.
The story is pretty sparse, as most management sim stories are, but it’s cute enough and when it’s finished you can continue to build your café. Outside of your cat café, there isn’t much to do post-game, so it becomes a bit of an idle game. However, it’s so charming that I was happy to keep playing well beyond finishing the storyline – at least until I realized I couldn’t play more than a little bit at a time without the game crashing on me.
Once the bugs are fixed, Cat Café Manager will probably be one of my favourite cute, calm games of the year – for full disclosure, I spent literally an entire weekend playing, and finished the story in the space of one day because I thought it was so fun and comfy. For now, the crashes are too much for me to really recommend purchasing the game because it becomes far too frustrating as you get further in.
I’m so thrilled to see that Cat Cafe Manager has had an update, and everything seems to be running smoothly now! With the update correcting bugs both big and small, I can enthusiastically recommend this to anyone looking for a calm, enjoyable business-running sim. There aren’t a lot of moving parts and pieces, so for those who enjoy very in-depth games it may not be a good fit, but I found it to be a great mix between staying active chatting, cleaning up, and building the cafe, and being able to relax and just enjoy things. This is a game I’m happy to spend hours in if I need something low-key, relaxing, and cute.
Order Up! is a column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance