Politics is a tricky and tumultuous subject, and we are living in a very unsteady political climate. The developers at Oh! A Rock! Studios think they may have found a solution, and the Internet Hive Mind would tend to agree:
The newest installment of this new and strange genre of anthropomorphic animal dating sims, Cat President: A More Purrrfect Union saw its chance with the American election and ran with it. Ever since the collective confusion, and then soon obsession, over pigeon boyfriends and a fair amount of bird puns, the hype was bound to create many similar oddities in its wake. This time, it has manifested in the form of cutouts of future cat incumbents.
The story is set in a utopian (or dystopian, depending on whether you are a cat or dog person) alternate reality where humans had made such a mess of politics that Congress and all other elected political positions have been allocated solely for the feline race. You play as a human girl whose political incompetence knows no bounds and yet somehow becomes a campaign manager for one of these presidential cat hopefuls. After being fired from your grocery store job, you attend a debate where they raffle tickets to see who gets to ask a question to the debaters as if the political debate had the same organizers as a Comic Con. You stumble over your words because of your aforementioned political incompetence, before lamenting about your recent employment status. You are then given a choice of the six candidates, as they all immediately offer you a job that takes years of experience and a Master’s Degree in Political Science. Thank goodness for the fantasy of gaming. The six choices that the player is given include the Obviously Donald Trump Cat, That Boring Candidate Cat, That Young and Excitable Cat, Obviously a Dog Cat, and What Was His Name Again Cat. Though this is a game centered around politics, don’t worry, it seems to remain relatively neutral. After all, the narrative doesn’t seem to be too invested in a satirical look at American politics, because it’s far too busy with trying to push the player into a relationship with a cat. Thank goodness for the fantasy of gaming.
Not only does the character you play seem to be boy-crazy (cat-crazy?) and all but completely inept at your new position as campaign manager, but you are also easily angered and strangely jealous of a secretary for no apparent reason. The player makes choices that eventually dictate the ending of the play-through, but no matter the decisions, the game plays out more or less in a linear script. For example, when I was given the choice to go to a fancy, romantic restaurant or a dirty hot dog stand, I chose hot dogs, for obvious reasons, but the game ended us in a romantic restaurant anyway. (I tried everything I could not to get in a relationship with a cat, too. It didn’t work.)
The music is reminiscent of traditional Shojo animes or typical elevator Muzak.
The cats are photographic cut-outs of cats, and all the human characters and the backgrounds seem to be non-licensed stock photos. Sometimes the appearances change, but only to crudely photoshop in an image of a hat or some other item.
The writers took every opportunity to make cat-related puns, which took up most of the humor in the sim. From “Catolina” to “Repawblicans and Democats,” this game has enough plays on words to make a pun-lover squeal with glee, or a pun-hater to cringe so hard that they shrivel up like a salted snail. The other stabs at humor mainly came from poking light fun at current events and politicians that have recently found their way to the limelight. A good amount of the humor is self-deprecating, as the narrator and player’s character is the ditsiest and most annoying caricature of an uneducated, lovesick, teenage fangirl.
With mediocre dialogue, forced plot points, and implied bestiality, this presidential cat-paign dating sim fails to hit the mark that Devolver’s Hatoful Boyfriend did. With more than 350 pages of storyline, players may find this game to be more trouble than it’s worth. The kitschy pandering to a cat-hungry audience birthed some stellar political cat puns, however, and even with the outlandish premise, the satirical nature of the game was a nice break away from our current grim political climate. All in all, Cat President: A More Purrrfect Union is best approached as a silly and mindless guilty pleasure that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Unless you’re really into cats.