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About the Story
"A promising date devolves into violence, sex, more violence." [--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]
20th Place - 4th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1998)
You're fending off a lion attack in an otherwise unremarkable suburb. Creepy at times, but uneven--it's a little too easy to just wander away from the lions, for example, and the ending is rather over-the-top. The puzzles are unfairly hard--they require massive logical leaps--and a few are unintentionally hilarious. Still, it has its moments; early in the game, for example, before you know what's going on, a station wagon silently follows you down the street, and it's a nicely unnerving touch. Play it with a walkthrough handy.
-- Duncan Stevens
Pack up the cats
So while the prose is less than masterful, the syntax for some required commands is often weird, and the ending is silly and over the top, Cattus Atrox gets high marks for grabbing me by the collar and yanking me out of detached-observer mode. This game stuck with me.
-- Adam Cadre
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
Cattus Atrox begins with a warning. The warning says this: "This work of IF contains strong language, violence, and sexual descriptions. It is not intended for children or anyone with a distaste for such things." In my opinion, this warning does not tell the whole truth. I'd like to replace it with this warning: "This work of IF contains strong language, violence, and sexual descriptions. It also contains no plot, no characterization, and no puzzles to speak of. It consists of horrifying situations with no apparent logic behind them, graphic descriptions of gratuitous violence, and incident after incident that is unsolvable without prior knowledge (i.e. save-and-restore "puzzles".) Its world is only fully implemented enough to serve these goals. In a winning session, you will beat an animal to death, watch 3 people be literally torn apart, and strangle a friendly housecat. If you like slasher movies, this is the IF game for you. It is not intended for children or anyone with a distaste for such things." See, here's the thing: I really don't mind strong language, violence, or sexual descriptions when they're in the service of a story that makes sense. The "strong language, violence, and sexual descriptions" tag could be equally attached to Bride of Chucky and The Color Purple. As you might have guessed from what I've written so far, this game is on the Chucky end of that continuum.
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It's probably hard for anyone to tell a really convincing story about a small lion pride stalking an innocent man through the suburbs one evening at the behest of a psychopath, but this is the subject matter of Cattus Atrox. Some of Cattus is pulse quickening, much of it is inexplicable, and a lot of it is very funny. Some folks would say that hilarity (either intentional or unintentional) has no place in a horror game, but I think horror and humour are weird emotional cousins, and there is something about this game that I found both intense (sometimes) and hysterical.
For half Cattus's length, I fled cleverly through the foggy night streets while killer lions and 'Karl' harassed me. Then I typed 'wait' about ten times while a beautiful lady conveyed me to safety, or at least to another location. (This is one of those games where you have to type 'wait' an awful lot.) During this gust of confidence, I found myself thinking, "The reviews of this game are wrong. It's totally playable and solveable." Then I found myself dying repeatedly in a drug induced (in the game!) stupor, which seemed inescapable. Then I turned to the walk-through, and then I realised that the other reviews were right. I don't think anyone could divine the series of actions leading to the solution of this game. Some crucial objects aren't mentioned in the room descriptions and tons of objects which would seem to be of help to you are just never implemented. The playing area may be large, but it's also samey and mostly painted-on.
I also discovered I was about 50 moves too late to even be trying to get off my fatal path. I don't mind learning from being killed, in fact sometimes I quite enjoy it, but it was galling in Cattus because of everything about the game that was revealed in one fell swoop when I had to turn to the walk-through -- at which point I just typed in the walk-through.
Still, there are a lot of weird little delights in Cattus. I don't think anyone expects a threatening stranger to suddenly reveal that he has a car full of lions. There's preposterous dialogue, leonine gore, crazy plot twists, and silly episodes of violence which animal-loving players will find completely objectionable. Some of these elements seem to belong in the world of the game, others have been added without care. This makes the whole a bit of a mess, and while Cattus is not a good game by conventional standards, the particular concoction which is Cattus Atrox is certainly that – particular. In terms of its playability, though, I'd say it's guaranteed to aggravate any player cocky enough to persist with it in the belief they can solve it off their own back.
In this mid length if comp game, you play as someone who just met a cute girl at a party. As you walk home, a strange man lets out a bunch of lions to have them attack you, and then follows you, reciting poetry.
The game was free of typos and grammar mistakes, as far as I can tell, and was written fairly well sentence by sentence, although the overall effect was way over the top, especially the sex-and-violence filled finale.
The interactivity left a lot to be desired. And many have commented on the difficulty of figuring out the final sequence.
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