Life and game development are full of cruel struggles, but dogs make everything better. Kato will sadly never be a finished game, but developers Cliffside (students from the Institution Of Game Design at Uppsala University) have released a prototype version for us to enjoy. Players control Kato, a dog, bringing happiness to a cliff-side village recently beset by tragedy. You do this by barking, digging stuff up, helping folks with chores, plus some literal fetch quests - be a good dog, really. Take a look at the trailer for the game below, or download the free prototype here on Itch.
If there's one thing I could grumble about, it's that the dog's animations are a little stiff, but they also remind me of The Dog Of Wisdom, which cancels it out. Beyond that, it's just a relaxing, sweet little game about meeting people, helping them and ideally cheering them up a little. The underpinnings of tragedy, loss and stress make your duty as Good Dog all the more important. While the controls are simple (I used a gamepad), I did like the tactile simplicity of digging by alternating the analogue triggers. Thankfully, nobody seemed to mind the holes dug in their gardens.
I'm curious what Cliffside would have done to build on this prototype if they'd continued. Some of the interactions already are a little un-doglike, including chopping down trees with axes. Personally, I would have liked more critters to chase around and perhaps have people react to my barking more often - y'know, dog things. Rescuing Timmy (who's obviously fallen down a well) would be a given. Who needs canine lumberjacking skills when you've got an endless library of Lassie to crib from. Ah, what could have been. I do wish Cliffside and its people luck in whatever projects they end up on next.
The Kato prototype is here on Itch, free. Sadly, Cliffside have ceased development, but thanks for sharing this version with us anyway.