A few years ago, at a time when I was between jobs and feeling a bit lost, I spent a summer volunteering at a cat shelter. Working with the cats was a job of great highs and deep lows, with the shock of seeing the horribly mistreated state of a new arrival tempered by the success stories of those who thrived under our care and got adopted into loving homes. At any time of day finding the felines could be a tricky task, with the creatures proving highly adept at sneaking into every nook and cranny. Hidden Cats, created as a birthday present by developer Anwilc, is an adorable little hidden object game that captures that search for the cats perfectly.
Hidden Cats places the player as the new recruit at an animal shelter. Shortly after the newbie has been shown the ropes, the shelter receives an urgent call: a large colony of feral cats has been spotted at an abandoned church. With so many cats to contain, all staff are needed to help out, so the protagonist is thrown straight into the deep end of catching the mischievous kittens.
The world of Hidden Cats is depicted on one very large, intricate drawing, a black and white take on the Where’s Wally? concept. Cats blanket the map, curled around every broken pew, clawing at tapestries, and lazing about in the sun. Cats are collected by clicking on them, with a found cat rewarding the player with a triumphant meow.
Not every cat is required to be caught, however; only the creatures matching the silhouettes at the bottom of the screen are to be taken back to the shelter. Each feline also has a short description of their personality to aid in the search, with a handy cat more likely to be found near the toolshed and one that enjoys staring out into space found lurking near the pier.
Hidden Cats is brief, with only a single screen to explore, but the short experience is extremely calming. Slowly scanning through the delightful line-work makes for a perfect mindfulness exercise, a deliberate effort to slow down and appreciate the small things. The personalities of the cats shine through in the detailed artwork, whether they prefer to slink in the shadows or paw at a butterfly. The minimalist sound design works well, with the differing meows between a target cat and a loafing stranger easily communicating if the player has found the right animal.
I was having a bad day when I loaded up Hidden Cats, but the calm aura the game exudes helped me feel better. I was flooded with memories of my own time at a cat shelter, and all the cheeky personalities I met in that time. The game is a highly peaceful experience, and I would love to see the idea developed into a longer piece. The developer has asked that players who enjoyed the game consider donating to their local animal shelter. More titles by Anwilc can also be found here.
Next week we will be playing Battle for Wesnoth, an open-source strategy game that has been in constant development since 2003. The game can be downloaded from Steam here. Discussions are happening on the Discord server, or you can email me here.