Review: The Tramp video game claims sci-fi dystopia is better with cats

Stray was announced in the summer of 2020, and shortly thereafter it became colloquially known as “cat game”.

After spending nine hours and going through the Tramp – sorry, the game of cats – I can confirm the following:

  • You can, like a cat, make cookies.
  • A cat traveling through an underground city in a bucket tied to a rope is as adorable as it sounds.
  • There is a puzzle that requires meowing, and one button on the controller is solely for meowing. Meow often.
  • It’s a joy to tip things over like a cat. This also solves the puzzle.
  • Sometimes you can just listen to music and sleep.
  • In other cases, you can curl up on the robot’s stomach and have its computerized face show a digital heart.

Tramp is a cat lover’s dream. Cats, those pets that are still the kings of online memes, of course, have been processed in video games before – among them the narrative adventure “Night in the Woods” or the mobile platform game “Super Phantom Cat”. And yet I can’t think of a game where cats, in this case a perky orange feline, are treated with the same reverence as in The Tramp. Despite its dystopian sci-fi setting, The Tramp by French firm BlueTwelve Studio works hard to capture feline movement, cat behavior and feline traits, right down to its themes of loyalty, independence and personal rebellion.

The cat washes on the billiard table, and this is watched by a robot.

“Vagabond” is a relatively accurate description of a cat’s behavior.

(BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive)

Available for PlayStation and PC consoles, the game hints at bigger ideas. There are hints of a plague that wiped out humanity (thus, it’s relevant for 2022). The mostly good-natured robots, apparently once created to subjugate humans, are torn between following the status quo and engaging in rebellion. The magnificence of nature and its conservation – or lack of it – is a central fixation, as the devastated environment has led to the creation of one-eyed, mutated parasites that eat just about anything in sight, including metal robots and fluffy kittens.

These ideas are seen rather than hammered into the mind of the player. Many robots are afraid of the street, believing that humanity left it uninhabitable before the species became extinct. But the game starts with the cutest tutorial I’ve ever played. We are just a red cat frolicking in the field with buddies, even at one point rubbing and licking our black cat buddy. Whatever the consequences of climate change, cats survived in the end. While we don’t see any other familiar animals, we take it for granted that cats – small, invasive species with occasional whimsical tendencies – are among the mammals that survived the apocalypse.

It’s good for us, because it’s a pleasure to play as a cat in Tramp. The game is mostly exploration and puzzle-solving as we run through an underground city loosely modeled after Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, a walled city where the stars are digitized and near-shattered monitors play static images of the outside world. The puzzles are mainly related to helping the inhabitants of the robots of the Tramp world – find sheet music for a street musician or exchange electrical cables for a poncho. Stray encourages us to linger and enjoy the life of a cat. Whenever our musician robot played a song, I would have the game cat curl up on the pillow and put down the controller.

There are tense moments. This comes from avoiding the so-called zurks, one-eyed sewer rodents that can tear us apart. We do this by running and jumping rather than just fighting (at some point we get a simple light-based weapon), and later our feline buddy will have to stealthily avoid the state of observation. I found these action games to be challenging enough, and thankfully they largely stay true to cat behavior, meaning we run, sneak, and dive into cardboard boxes and tiny crevices. We also scratch sofas and rip computer wires, the last part of breaking down the security system.

I think it’s important to note that when it comes to performing Stray, I’m biased. I am a cat owner and relatively obsessed with my 12 year old wild black cat. And Tramp does a great job of establishing a connection between the player and the digital cat.

In the beginning, we are among cat friends and live a leisurely nomadic life. This goes on until the jump fails and our cat falls into an underground city from which there seems to be no way out. The look on our video game cat’s face will touch the heart of any cat owner, as we all know that cats, no matter how much they value their independence, are inherently quite loyal companions. Twice while I was writing this review, my own cat pounced on the keyboard, which turns out to be the action we take at the end of Tramp.

The cat runs away from one-eyed rodents.

Tramp has tense moments with sewer vermin.

(BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive)

But once we fall down, we have the game’s quest to climb up while viewing the Asian-inspired city – luck beckoning cat, maneki-neko figurines are a staple in almost every robot home – like something like a giant cat . wood. The goal is to make it through the lower and middle class worlds and finally achieve the triumph of the natural world again.

But don’t be surprised if you feel like hanging out in the dystopian town of the Rogue. By jumping over neon signs and air conditioner units, we can get to the rooftops where we can discover the hidden hideouts of the robots. We want to hang ourselves and talk to all the robots, whether they are drunk and hunched over in a bar or a frustrated laundry owner who is tired of cleaning paint outside his shop (our cat may be partly to blame for such a mess).

For most of the game, the robots are inventive. We even have a little companion, a small drone named B-12. The latter attaches itself to our back – at first making our cat moan, squat and not want to walk – but the B-12 is an assistant bot capable of translating the robot’s speech and displaying all sorts of objects as a mysterious set of molecules that allow our cat to carry them around. in the city. There is a hidden secret at the heart of B-12, and the Tramp patiently uncovers its secrets as the quest changes with B-12. We don’t have to just run anymore; we need to open the roof of the city. We learn about this mission mainly from conversations with robots in various underground locations – my favorite hippie town in a giant tree house.

The final act focuses on stealth missions, rescuing some robot friends, and even escaping from prison. My favorite moments are torn between the two – the aforementioned meow puzzle, or our cat driving the subway train. It all leads to a thoughtful ending that answers some questions, leaves some open, and celebrates acts of resistance. However, what I remember most is that B-12 once said to our cat: “You are a good friend.” This is exactly how I feel about the Tramp and his virtual orange cat, which I hope we will see in future adventures.