Little Kitty, Big City Review – An Adorable Freeform Litter Box

Cat in a hat (or 40).

There’s one way to have me instantly pay attention to your game, and that’s handing your starring role to a cat. And not just the likes of Blinx: The Time Sweeper (as memorable as that game is) but the ones that really understand the feline condition and attempt to communicate that to the player. Games like Stray, Catlateral Damage and the upcoming Copycat. Little Kitty, Big City is another of these, and perhaps the most successful so far at making me feel like a very small cat on a very important mission.

As the titular Little Kitty, you’ll find yourself in the unenviable position of having been accidentally ejected from your comfortable indoor life in a city apartment and landing (on your feet) on the city streets below. And so your core goal in the game becomes to find your way back up the towering complex and into your regular spot by the window. Unfortunately, your sheltered life means a lack of street smarts or stamina for clambering. Fortunately though, the city below is full of helpful critters to guide you on your way as well as tasty fish to get your strength up for the inevitable climb.

And that pretty much forms the basic gameplay loop in Little Kitty, Big City. Over the 2-3 hour adventure (add a couple on for achievement hunting) you’ll explore this city, talk to and help out the local fauna, gradually open up new paths and areas and grow your climbing ability until you’re ready to take on the challenge of scaling your high-rise apartment building to get home. It’s a fairly freeform little campaign, giving you a handful of mission-critical tasks to progress things along but otherwise leaving you to just scamper about the place, look for secrets, collect shiny things and, of course, strike fear into the hearts of the humans around you.

It’s all a little bit Untitled Goose Game in that way, giving you a suite of options for mischief that’s entirely appropriate of a feline-led video game, and working it into a series of entertaining little puzzles and platforming segments. One minute you’ll sneak into a konbini to pilfer a fresh fish, the next you’ll trip random pedestrians in the hopes of nabbing a dropped mobile phone to give to a social media-obsessed beetle. It’s immediately clear that this game has been developed by a team of passionate cat owners that are all-too-familiar with the kinds of shenanigans they get up to.

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That extends to the game’s animations, which are bloody excellent. Your cat moves with a fluidity and elasticity that perfectly captures the animal, whether it’s walking or sprinting around (the spring button being dubbed “zoomies” is genius), crawling under gaps, getting underfoot of pedestrians, knocking over carefully-placed breakables or pouncing on local birds (non-lethal). Little Kitty, Big City has a simple overall look, but the care and attention placed on the little details really makes it shine. Of particular brilliance is the game’s jumping mechanic, where a simple tap of the button will execute a regular jump but holding it down will result in a more precise jump that you can aim across gaps or up onto ledges to execute an agile leap exemplary of our fleet-footed feline friends.

Little Kitty, Big City is a supremely charming thing. Aside from the aforementioned animation mastery, the folks at Double Dagger have come up with some of the most entertaining dialogue and writing in recent memory whether it’s the hilarious character interactions (a portal-obsessed tanuki that acts as your fast travel network being a particular highlight) or gloriously cringeworthy puns. You’ll also have the opportunity to don 40-plus adorable hats that can be collected around the city, earned or bought from a capsule machine-commanding crow in exchange for shiny junk.

Playing on Xbox Series X, the only thing to really put a damper on my otherwise positive experience of Little Kitty, Big City was a frequency of intrusive bugs. There were at least a handful of times over my five-ish hours playing the game that it would lock up completely (mostly when using the in-built photo mode), but thankfully I never lost any major progress. Collision detection and climbing/jumping can occasionally produce awkward results as well, but it’s only ever a minor annoyance.

Little Kitty, Big City is a hugely charming, succinct romp that's littered with gags laser-targeted at cat owners. It's light and breezy in the best ways, and although some technical rubs soured my time on Xbox Series X, it's a purr-fectly pleasant time.
Succinct and charming little adventure
Incredible cat animations
Packed with great gags
Some awkward platforming
A few freezes and crashed on Xbox