Publisher: Surprise Attack
Developer: Upper Class Walrus
Release Date: 06/25/2015
Fort Meow is the kind of game that asks what it’s like to be on the opposite end of the physics based puzzle games. How would you feel if you were a pig instead of an unusually upset bird? Instead of trying to break down a fort and get to the squishies inside, you are said squishy. It’s up to you to build up your defenses and hope the onslaught of adorable cats don’t take you out.
OK. I’m being a bit melodramatic with the story here. How it really works is a young girl named Nia finds herself alone in her grandparent’s attic. With her grandfather due for surgery, the adults are gone. That gifts the precocious tot the chance to sneak into the attic and look around for stuff. She stumbles across her grandfather’s old journal and decides to sit down to read it. Trouble is, there are all these cats that insist on distracting her. They demand their pettings and they demand them now! So, you get get to help her build forts out of furniture and appliances in order to stave off the attack.
The plot actually goes somewhere beyond that, as the game actually bothers to explain all those crazy cats. A few other characters are introduced as well, but Nia is very much the star. It kind of falls apart at the end, with a couple plot twists out of nowhere, but it’s enjoyable enough overall.
Visually, the game packs in a lot of detail while using a cartoon-like aesthetic. There are several rooms in the house you can visit, and each is packed with items and furniture that you can add to your collection of construction materials. If there’s one problem, its in the animations. They are few and far between, with the cats kind of freezing up after they’ve landed. It’s really awkward to watch, albeit quite amusing at first. For a low priced computer game, it looks pretty good.
The aural experience is also a solid one. The music gives off just the right vibe. During attacks, you’re generally just a spectator as you watch to see if your fort works out. The wacky music and sound effects make for a fun treat to go with the visual chaos. The only voice in the game is the narrator, but he’s pretty darn solid. You really feel like you’re entering a mysterious place at the beginning of the game, instead of just a dusty old attic. All told, it’s a fun game to listen to.
Fort Meow is a game wherein you use various appliances and pieces of furniture to construct a fort. You do this to repel a wave of incoming cats. At the beginning of each round, you can see how many and what kinds of cats are incoming. From there, you’re given a list of supplies with which to build. Implements include chairs, pillows, mattresses, tables, brooms, etc. There are even some more wacky selections like a bubble fan and a toaster. Once you’ve finished the fort, you simply press a button and hope your plans work.
Time is the currency here. You’re limited by the number of each item you can use, but also their time cost. This represents the amount of time it will take to move that item onto your fort. For example, a simple broomstick takes little time, while moving a coffee table takes more. It’s very likely you won’t have enough time to use every item on your list. You’re given more after each successful round, but you’re also likely to see more cats as well.
Another type of currency is energy for a helper-bot. For every one hundred energy you get, you can use the bot to travel around the house and pick up a new furniture type for use in fort building. The various rooms are also locked and/or too dark to see. As you progress, you’ll find items to help you clear out those problems. This allows the game to have a constant feeling of moving forward, which is great for getting you to stick around for a longer session.
When the cats do attack, you’ll find physics plays a role in whether or not you make it through. If a wall goes down, expect the whole fort to topple. If a cat comes in at too high a velocity, expect some things to get bowled over. There’s nothing worse than watching a fort fall over and and getting taken out by an early cat. You have to plan around for these things.
There are several different kinds of cats, and each has different rules for how they behave. The typical cat is weak and comes in at a high arc. However, there are fat cats that shred through objects, “melon” cats that plow sideways into your fort, double cats that do double damage, and so on. While you’ll occasionally earn an item that can help out mid-attack, you’re going to have to figure out how to stave them off with just your fort.
I found the game works rather well. It has a good number of different items with which to build your fort so as to help you create unique strategies. The lamp reduces incoming damage, the catnip pulls cats in certain directions, the bubble fan can stop smaller cats in their tracks, etc. The levels are also rather quick, so you’re not stuck watching them play out for more than say ten seconds or so. It moves at a quick pace, which is great.
If there’s one caveat, it’s that the game is pretty short. I managed to complete it in under two hours. While you’re supposed to spend time collecting stamps as a side quest, I managed to get all of them during my first run. Post game, there’s nothing to do. You can’t keep fending off cats, and you can’t even revisit one of the rooms. You can walk around the house and build a fort, but there’s no real point to doing that. As such, the game’s eight dollar price tag might be just a tad high.
Short Attention Span Summary
Fort Meow is a cute physics-based puzzler that’s interesting to play and hard to put down. The only real problem is that you’ll finish the game before long, and there’s no option beyond going through it all again. It’s definitely worth a look for cat lovers and puzzle fans alike. After all, it’s still cheaper than a movie ticket.