A good life sim will suck you into a world you’d never considered before. I’m not a farmer or a full-blown cat lady, yet I gravitate to those worlds in games. Calico in particular represents a realm I’d left untouched before now. What if I owned a baker’s dozen cats, and could also do magic? If you need a cute escape into cats, cafes, and transformation charms, Calico will be perfect. While there are a few troubles to be found on this island paradise, You’ll still have a lovely time.
You’ve inherited an abandoned cat cafe from your aunt. Your job is to restore this empty space, creating an inviting escape full of pastel furniture and sugary snacks. Acquiring more animals is as simple as finding one and picking them up. Every cat, crow, and polar bear is immediately on your side. If asked, they’ll follow you all over the island. You can even make the land-based animals big enough to ride! Aside from being a cute distraction, the animals in question are integral to the success of your business. Well, them and the food you bake.
A Pastel Paw Parade
This leads me to the core activity loop in Calico. You cook, capture cute animals, and complete quests. All of it is very chill, a bubblegum carousel of low stakes fun. You’re never worried about getting something done on time. Tomorrow’s another day, right? Cats, dogs, and giant crows all tag along at your command, every quest is straightforward, and everyone you meet on the island is delightful. Making new food involves hauling giant ingredients into a massive bowl, and you’re never worried about running out of anything. Clothing can be freely dyed in different colors, your character can be changed whenever you feel like it, and key items have limitless uses. In other words, you’re never worried while playing this game.
On the other hand, you’re never quite enthralled, either. One downside to being so chill is the gameplay has no serious hooks. You’re not stressed about succeeding, but you’re not driven to do so, either. Instead, the atmosphere and the activities just kind of float you along until you reach the end of the story. Perhaps Calico is so relaxed as a compensation for its concise runtime? Which isn’t an automatic flaw! We could all use some therapeutic jaunts through a heart-shaped island full of magic and whimsy. No, Calico has other problems.
This game is adorable, yet flawed. The cute graphics and whimsical premise are hampered by a floaty interface and slight lack of polish. Everything feels like it’s hovering in place, awaiting your input. Any time spent in a building involves a rapid shift in perspective, walls blinking in and out as you move. People and animals follow you around at a similar pace, with some NPCs arriving at a scene just in time for it to end. None of the weird little flaws I dug up were enough to hamper my playthrough. I just shrugged off these minor blemishes and went about my day, baking giant cupcakes and wiggling animal butts.
Good Times With Giant Cats
The rest of my time was spent breezing through quests and harvesting items from the island’s tiny shopping district. As a devout customization nerd, I can’t overlook the ease with which you can change your look. Every item of clothing can be re-dyed at a moment’s notice, and you have constant access to the character editor. This allowed me to alter my appearance to suit my whims, which I always appreciate.
Such was my time with Calico. The troubles I had were as unobtrusive and gentle as my enjoyment. You’re so laid back, that something like floaty controls or vanishing walls is barely an inconvenience. Conversely, the soft pastel skin of this game is difficult to get a grip on. Players looking for a more involved life sim will come up short, but if comfy gaming is your aim, you’ve struck gold. Calico is a brief, blissful vacation in a world of gentle magic and cute companions. If you’re looking to just relax for a little while, Calico will be exactly your speed.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Relaxing gameplay
- Adorable graphics
- Loads of customization options
- Characters and controls feel floaty
- Indoor spaces clip like crazy
- Gameplay is almost too relaxed