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A Day for Soft Food, by Tod Levi
Not your typical housecat, August 13, 2022

You are a housecat hungry- no, ravenous- for soft cat food. Usually, you turn to your owner for such things, but he has not been himself recently. It seems like everything annoys him and when he does feed you it is mostly boring dry food. Instead of waiting for him you decide to take initiative and acquire some soft food.

Gameplay
You start the day curled up on the windowsill inside a one-story cottage. Your Provider* is asleep but will move about independently as the day moves on. He is one of a handful of independent NPCs that you will encounter. The initial goal is to satisfy your immediate hunger before addressing your hankering for soft food. The gameplay consists of tiptoeing around the cottage and surrounding forest in search of ways to reach this goal.

The puzzles are not always intuitive. In fact, some of them left me scratching my head. (Spoiler - click to show) Rolling in ash to disguise yourself so you pounce on a bird makes sense. And I liked the puzzle where you wake up the Provider without him knowing that you are trying to do so. But (Spoiler - click to show) tying the shiny egg* to the balloon and releasing it from the roof of the cottage so it could float down to the little boy was something I needed the walkthrough for.

I like how there are (Spoiler - click to show) two solutions for removing the Rival when he comes back for revenge. You can lure him into the road where he gets hit by a car or, and I prefer this one, dump the sack of dry cat food on him so he leaves. Perhaps that way someone will find him and give him a home. But I must say that the author really replicates the finicky nature of cats squabbling over territory (and the preposterousness of sharing a food bowl). Similarly, (Spoiler - click to show) I am glad that it is possible to reach a peaceful resolution with the Provider. He goes from throwing the cat outside to cuddling the cat during excursions in the forest. Both cat and Provider reach a sense of contentedness which made for a satisfying ending.

Story/Writing
Though the puzzles can sometimes muddle up the pacing, the game makes up for it by capturing the player's attention with humor and descriptiveness. Take the description of the beast* in the garage as an example: "You've heard such beasts rumble, sigh, bleat, and stampede. This one is quiet, and perhaps ill. He appears to be bleeding from his underside." Through the cat's perspective it takes a cold and static piece of human technology and turns it into something living. A car leaking away in a garage is suddenly a wounded creature biding its time. This formed a more vivid image in my head than if the game simply said, "a human vehicle is in a garage. It is leaking fluid." It adds extra dimension.

This game really does give a cat's-eye-view of a hungry feline in a forest setting. There are so many scents and things to climb. The alarm of encountering a strange cat, the surprise of an unexpected human, and the enticing allure of capturing feathered wildlife. And yet the house is the focal point of your world with its heated rooms and Providers who give you food (Obviously this is not the case for all cats, but the protagonist seems to be a well-adjusted housecat). I think my favorite slice of writing is when (Spoiler - click to show) the cat finally gets to eat the soft food:

A blend of tuna and chicken livers, your entire consciousness swims in its taste, texture, and smell. You lap up its succulent juices, and slaver down every delectable mouthful. After a moment of complete rapture, you find yourself staring into an empty shell, grease dripping from your whiskers.

I can almost image chowing down in bliss the delicious food I waited forever to find.
The obsession with soft food is a familiar one for me. I know what it is like to have a cat meowing at you for food and when you put down dry kibble, they look at you as if to say, "what is this garbage? I wanted the stuff from the can."

Final thoughts
If you are bored of playing as human protagonists A Day for Soft Food offers a refreshing change in perspective. I recommend it if you want to play a game with an animal protagonist or is you are just looking for something lighthearted and humorous.

...
Oh, and one last thing...
What is up with (Spoiler - click to show) riding down the river in the basket? Who is that saucy cat? The game describes her as "the most beautiful feline you've ever seen lies languorously on an unreachable limb." Is this a love interest? Apparently, this just earns you a bonus point, but it is certainly a memorable one.

Cat Glossary* (Spoiler - click to show)
-Beast: Car
-Beast's Cave: Garage
-Billowy wall: Window blinds
-Confusing box: TV
-Food Room: Kitchen
-Jangly ring: Keyring
-Lumpy mountain: Sofa
-Provider: Cat owner
-Shiny metal egg: Can of soft cat food
-Shiny stool: Wheelchair
-Silvery leaves: Keys
-Small white box: Garage opener



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