The cats are lost on wintry islands surrounded by icy water, and your mission is to find them and bring them home. That’s the basic gist of Hidden Paws, developed and published by Manic Hyena in 2018. The game is designed to be played casually and enjoyed mainly on the level of easy and quick pastime. And as such, it is a most lovely game, indeed, especially for cat persons.
In terms of gameplay, Hidden Paws is simplicity itself. The player flies through the air around an island, looking for the cats and their balls of yarn. The areas of the levels are rather small, though they get larger the further you get in the game. Sometimes the cats hide inside windows or even on boats circling the island, but the task of finding them is never about difficulty. When you see a cat, all you need to do is click on it, and it thanks you with a burst of balloon-like hearts. Once you have found all the cats, the option to move to the next island opens. There is no time limit or anything, so the player can take all the time they need.
None of this is complicated at all. The only criticism I have is the slightly odd controls. The player can use either the combination the WASD keys and the mouse, or the WASD keys and the arrow keys, turning around using the left hand and moving by using the right. At first, they feel a bit clunky and take some getting used to, but with patience they are eventually fairly easy to get the hang of. Besides that, the game is very easy to play, which is, of course, the point. One can’t really fault the game for being too simple. Its very purpose is to provide relaxation and sense of calmness, relieve stress, and offer little challenge. To complete the game takes no more than a few hours at the most; in that regard, the game is ideal for short playing sessions.
So, you see it’s all very laid-back. Enjoy the nice wintery atmosphere, listen to the relaxing music, rescue some cute little kitties, Bob’s your uncle. The graphics are plain and angular, which I think serves to benefit the game’s relaxed approach, and the wintry milieus are often gorgeous. The music – indeed, the overall soundscape – too, is chill and minimalist, as befits the rest of the game. Whenever you get near the cats, even if you can’t see them, you can hear their gentle meows, which is just adorable.
The game is rather purrfect entertainment for anyone who loves cats and wants to take a moment to just relax. As a nice touch, the game has been translated into 14 different languages. Due to its subject and easiness, the game is suitable for little children also.
Developer: Manic Hyena
Publisher: Manic Hyena
Release date: 22 March 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Android, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Picture credit: screenshots from Hidden Paws (Manic Hyena 2018), taken by the author
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