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About the Story
Take two old areas from a text-based virtual world. Stitch them together with new content; flesh out and brush up the old. Add a handful of minimal, abstract illustrations for good measure.
The result is Kitty and the Sea, a hypertext walking simulator about loneliness; a short story where nothing happens because the good days are past.
It's a surreal, dream-like piece, with a touch of steampunk for good measure. Feel free to find your own meanings in it. Every little bit has deep roots however, and carries precious memories. Hopefully that comes through.
This is surreal Twine game about wandering a seaside landscape in quiet contemplation. The world is infused with cat motifs and underlying feelings of loneliness, serenity, and self-reflection. There are no puzzles or plot twists, and yet, there is plenty to see and do in this game’s world.
The game really captures the feel of wandering aimlessly in a seaside setting. Its design is simple: clicking on links to navigate your environment. But there is an underlying complexity. It heavily uses cycling links, just small ones within each location but also ones that are strung together across locations. It is how you find yourself slowing moving from the waterfront to the lighthouse to the open sea and onwards. You might click on a link that takes you to a previous direction, but you can easily retrace your progress. The writing and the way the links are imbedded in each other really create a smooth effect. It feels less linear and more adaptive to the player's choices. It also creates the excitement of stumbling across a new location that you overlooked.
There is a sense that you are the only person there- well, technically you are. You are not ambushed by cuddle piles of cats. In fact, there are no cats you can directly interact with. You only see hints of them here and there in the corner of your eye. But paying close attention to these details almost creates a meditative experience. One of my favorite details is (Spoiler - click to show) in the larger boat, The Flying Fish. It is empty, but you cannot help but notice that the furniture has traces of cat hair.
The author has such vivid imagination that shines in this game. Rather than a broad story that encases the entire game, the story lies in bits and pieces throughout the setting. Different areas are infused with memories and small narratives that help you form your own idea of the history of the seaside setting and the locations connected to it. Besides, the world is just so fascinating to explore. At the waterfront there is a warehouse called "Feline Industries Recycling Center." It is not exactly clear as to what type of facility it is, only that when you explore it you catch hints of cats scampering about the rafters. You get a taste of the story’s world without really knowing what it is.
One of my favorite bits of writing is part of the location description for Feline Industries Waterfront:
Far to the north, beyond a barren expanse, pale light reveals a small town. The sign pointing that way says: “To Centaur Square”. It looks like a short trip.
When you click on “It looks like a short trip” it changes to:
Trying to follow its directions however makes the town appear more distant with every step. Only a solitary line of paw prints marks the way.
There is something about that writing that really resonated with me. Just think about it...
Is there an ending? I believe the answer is no. I certainly did not reach an ending, nor did I find one while digging through the source code that the author posted. But this feels like a game that needs no ending. It ends when you feel like ending the experience.
I applaud the visual design. It is crisp and simple. Main appearance of the game is a white square against a second off-white background. The text is spaced within the square with black lines and accents. The text is well-organized and easy to read, and the name of each location is neatly printed at the top. Occasionally, the writing is augmented with basic but pretty artwork of the setting. All of this created a polished look.
In case you want to compare notes, I found (Spoiler - click to show) five pieces of artwork in the game. The locations are Engine room, Feline bedroom, Ground Floor, In a boat at sea, Round Chamber.
So, what is it like playing Kitty and the Sea? Imagine this: It is past noon, and you are playing a Twine game, one that lets you roam around, almost like a parser game, but also one that is heavily based on writing. You are groggy and tired. It is tempting to take a nap, but you convince yourself not to since you want to break the bad habit of sleeping late in the day. You are not really reading; you are just clicking. Whenever you try to focus on the writing, as if someone asked you to read it and then summarize it at the drop of a hat, you just feel so tired. But then slowly your brain starts to focus on the text on and suddenly it does not seem so vast. You go from being in a mid-afternoon dazed to suddenly super-focused on this game that you suddenly realize "wow, this game is actually quite captivating!" THAT was my experience (and this is not the only game where this has happened to me). That was my personal experience. Go see where it takes you.
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