Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed) HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
I remember loving my Tamagotchi when I was younger. I looked after it so well, watched it grow, and then eventually became devastated when I accidentally dropped it and saw all of my progress reset. Bad times. I also remember playing the game Catz on my old PC and looking after my little group of kittens, all whilst watching them get high on catnip. I guess I’ve always been a sucker for looking after a virtual pet…
Naturally then, the virtual reality pet-sim Konrad the Kitten appealed to me, with its simplistic gameplay and the player’s dependence on looking after this little animal certainly reminding me of my childhood experiences. It feels the same and it’s still surprisingly fun, but there’s no denying that, much like those previous games before it, it’s aimed at a younger audience.
Konrad the Kitten sees you looking after your own little pet in virtual reality in the same vein of one of the classic Tamagotchis of the 90s. You’ll have to play with him, feed him, and make sure he’s well looked after. It’s something you’re going to have to commit to on a daily basis though – Konrad runs out of energy after around thirty minutes of play, so you’ll have to come back to the game the next day if you want to play with him some more. It’s kinda like Animal Crossing, except rather than looking after a big village, it’s just a little kitten.
You play Konrad the Kitten on the floor (the game instructs you to point your camera downwards) and need a big play area, so admittedly it could be a little awkward to set up the game each day. Thirty minutes isn’t exactly a long time to spend with it, so having to reconfigure my camera and move furniture around to give myself enough space didn’t always feel worth it. Of course, Konrad becomes sadder and drains of energy if you don’t visit him often (don’t worry – he won’t die), so it’s something you’re going to have to do if you want to commit to the game.
Konrad has a selection of needs that you always have to fulfil, with things like his hunger, tiredness, and, of course, his toilet-needs to keep an eye on. Everything is simple enough to look after, and Konrad makes anything he needs perfectly clear to you through his little speech bubbles.
To have Konrad interact with an object, you simply have to place him on it – put him in his spacious box to have a sleep (cats love a good box, right?), place him near his food dish for him to eat some grub, or put him in his litter tray to… yeah. Every task is given a small timer before it completes and uses up a small amount of his overall energy. It’s hardly the most riveting of things you’re going to do in the game, but they’re the simple procedures that come with looking after a virtual pet.
Every so often during these tasks, a small wheel will pop up that you can spin to take part in a mini-game. All of the mini-games aren’t available immediately and it’s a bit random when you’ll be able to actually partake in them, but they’re always fun little endeavours. They’re always simple too, with them usually made up of easy tasks such as guiding Konrad through hoops, catching mice, or even fishing. They do grow a little old in time thanks to the lack of variety and their simplicity, but given the short playtime you’ll spend with Konrad the Kitten each day they never begin to wear on you.
You can customise Konrad with a variety of different objects and skins, with each one purchased in the in-game shop for the coins you earn in mini-games. I found it a little odd that the game didn’t let you customise his appearance to begin with, but after returning on a daily basis and seeing every new item the shop stocked, it did become a bit more satisfying to change his look over time. My own little Konrad looked quite spiffing by the end, with his pearl-white fur and funky set of shades certainly making him the talk of the town…
One bizarre aspect of the game is that you control everything with Konrad – you’re literally holding him in a motionless fixed pose as you grab at things in the environment or move around. It looks a little weird in-game and feels like you’re simply swinging around a stuffed animal. It’s functional, sure, but from an aesthetic viewpoint it takes you out of the experience a bit and dampens the illusion that you’re genuinely looking after this playful little kitten.
Konrad the Kitten is certainly one of the more kid-friendly PlayStation VR titles available right now, with its dependence on playing on the floor with limited motion certainly making it easy for youngsters to play around with. There’s even an intriguing ‘Plushie’ mode included that allows you to attach a Move controller to a cuddly toy to use in-game, which is actually a really neat idea. Admittedly, it’s not something I toyed around with too much, but when I did have a go it seemed to work really well.