Virtual Reality is a still-evolving technology, with major studios and indies alike trying to find the best way to utilize this new platform. Developers are experimenting to bring the world new VR experiences, incorporating the tried and true, the experimental and edgy, as well as the wacky and weird. Cat Sorter VR, a simulation game by Pawmago Games, can most certainly be categorized as the latter.
This quite frankly bizarre game leaves you as the lone overseer of the assembly line at a cat factory. No, really, that’s it. I’ve got no more explanation than that, so you’re going to have to roll with it. Far from the gloomy settings of most industrial factories, this virtual workspace is punctuated by the kind of bright, mostly primary colors which are reminiscent of Toys R Us, and helps set the mood for this ridiculous game. Cats are brought out at adjustable speeds on a conveyor belt, and it’s your job to examine each and ensure that they are correct. Some cats come out with obvious flaws, such as duck bills, crab claws, and even wings, and you’ll make use of the Vive wands to pick up each cat, examine it, and use the circle pad on top to remove any incorrect parts, replacing them with extra body parts from the bin behind you. A thorough examination is often necessary, as some cats will have an eyeball or a little jewel in place of a butthole. Yes, you did read that correctly: you have to ensure that every cat has a working butthole, and no, that cute little purple heart doesn’t count.
Once you have ensured that your current cat is 100% cat, free from imperfections like spider legs, fangs, or scorpion tails, you can either send the cat out into the world by sending it up the vacuum shoot, or you can take a risk and try and increase your score (your pay? Do high scores affect your pay in a cat factory? Who do I call to get an answer to this very important question??) by practicing your free throw and football pass skills by tossing your completed cat into one of two distant vacuum tubes for extra points. Your performance for each shift is judged off a number of factors, including how many perfect cats you created, how many you dropped, and how many perfect cats you successfully shipped. The default speed is fun and challenging enough, but crank up the belt speed a little and you’ll quickly find your adrenaline spiking as you frantically try to inspect and get rid of each cat, usually as an avalanche of laughter and curses spill from your lips. This game is ridiculous, and it does an excellent job of preparing you to work an assembly line job… but the shifts themselves are only the tip of the weirdness iceberg that is Cat Sorter VR.
Between shifts, you’re free to pick through the plethora of paraphernalia cluttering up your work space. Most surfaces are covered in colorful squares of paper with notes scrawled all over them and, with a little help from people outside the visor, we copied down a phone number written on one of the notes and used the in-game phone to call it. We were greeted by a creepy man asking “Is this the cat factory? Those parts don’t go bad, you know…” We laughed, we shuddered, we went on playing. The next day, I went to put on the visor as another person shouted, “We found more numbers, don’t call them, they’re all creepy!!”
Cat Sorter VR revels in just how strange it is, from a scrawled note which reads, “These cats have eyes for buttholes!” to the fact that, at the end of your shift, every unfinished cat turns into a fart in the wind. No, really, the cats literally turn into puffs of smoke which form the word “poot.” This blatant irreverence plays brilliantly off of the heightened pressure of working an assembly line to create a gameplay experience as bizarre as it is addicting. The pleasure of Cat Sorter VR doesn’t necessarily come from the gameplay itself, but from the inexplicably fun combination of pressure, the bizarrity of sorting cat parts, and the soothingly repetitive nature of the task. It finds a way to strike firmly upon an unexpected pleasure cord, leaving you wanting to spend all of your time working your shift and assembling felines, breaking records, and laughing at the insane concoctions of “cats” which come down the line, while at the same time leaving you eager to dig through the strange collection of notes, books, drawings and other objects cluttering your workspace.
Not to mention that the cats themselves are adorable. And they’re hideous. And it’s incredibly challenging to articulate just what the heck is going on with this absurd game and why it’s so magnificently addicting. It’s something you really have to experience to understand. Cat Sorter VR is not only the perfect quick distraction from a busy day, and one of the most entertaining things to play after an adult beverage or two, (not that I would ever encourage drinking on the job) it’s also incredibly amusing to watch someone play. It also serves as an excellent introduction to VR. You don’t have to actually travel any distance, everything is within reach of your work station, but you do have to look around, reach about, turn, and twist your body in order to assemble cats, making this a great way to help newbies learn to orient themselves within virtual space.
Cat Sorter VR
I really can't offer a clear, concise explanation as to why this ridiculous game is so much fun, all I can say is that sorting cats has become the new competitive hobby in my office. Cat Sorter VR has somehow combined the adorable, the absurd, the repetitive, and the high pressure of a continually moving assembly line to create an inexplicably addictive virtual reality game which you really have to experience yourself to understand. It may not be a purrfect game, but it's more than worth the $12.99 price tag.