Calico Review – Cats, Coffee, and Cuteness


Calico Review

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calico game

Calico is a heart-warming and well-planned story that's unfortunately plagued by glitches and flaws. However, despite the many issues with the gameplay, there's still enjoyment to be found. Although its limitations mean Calico's not likely to become anyone's favorite, it's still worth a purchase given its low price point.

Review Score 6
  • It's well-written
  • Adorable graphics
  • Fantastic range of customization options
  • A fun range of potions
  • The world feels rather empty
  • Soooo many glitches
  • The cooking is too convoluted
  • The music is annoying and repetitive

This is a new one for me in that I played this game on *gasp* PlayStation! As a dedicated Xbox girlie, it felt like a betrayal, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to play Calico. I love cute things, and I love cats, so a cute game about cats seemed perfect for me. I’d also played the demo for Calico a couple of years ago, but had to give it up due to unplayable glitches, so I was keen to see how they’d fixed it.

I have plenty to say about the experience of playing this, as it’s pretty much the definition of a mixed bag. I’ve played a few titles published by Whitethorn Games in the past, and have always found them to be a champion for adorable indie projects. So when I saw their logo on the loading screen, I was even more excited to play Calico. Did it live up to my hype? Let’s find out!

calico logo
Image by Melika Jeddi

A New Day, a New Café

Starting off strong, I was really pleased with the story for Calico. It’s not that unique, but it’s well-written and enjoyable. You find yourself in a new town, running the cat café that your aunt has entrusted to you. There, you meet a cast of wonderful characters who are thrilled at the reopening of the cat café. The dialogue is well-written, if a little basic, and the story is sweet and easy to follow.

Even though they’re a bit one-dimensional, I still really like the NPCs in Calico. One of my least favorite tropes in cozy games is that often, the characters start out acting aloof towards you and then warm up over time. However, in Calico, everyone is immediately wonderful to you, and I love that. It makes me feel wanted and included, and I feel more inclined to want to improve their lives.

friendly kiva npc Calico
She’s so excited to see me! Image by Melika Jeddi

My favorite NPC is a character called Safeena, and I had the absolute biggest grin on my face when I saw her. I even said, “No way!” out loud in my excitement. Safeena is a hijabi (Muslim woman who wears a headscarf), and in all my time as a gamer, I’ve never encountered a hijabi NPC before.

A select few games let you wear a hijab as one of the clothing options, but I’ve never seen an NPC wearing one before. It meant a huge deal to me, as I don’t think I had been conscious of just how unrepresented I feel in games.

The inclusivity across the board was impeccable, with characters of all sizes, races, genders, and sexualities included in the game. There was even a character who was half-cat! It’s so cool that the developers took the time to make everyone feel represented in their game.

muslim safeena npc Calico
I love my business girlie, Safeena! Image by Melika Jeddi

Unfortunately, the interaction is a bit lackluster, and you can only get a brief greeting from characters unless you’re doing a quest for them. A few more dialogue options would’ve really helped with the immersion and it was disappointing that there was no real opportunity to connect with people more deeply.

On the plus side, there are plenty of quests to go around, and even after 5 hours of playing, I was still discovering new ones with every in-game day. The quests are not only really fun, but allow you to get to know the characters better. They’re always intrinsically linked to that NPC’s personality, so doing their quest helps you learn more about them. I’m glad it’s not just a bunch of boring fetch quests. Instead, the quests are often linked to interacting with the world around you and exploring the locations.

calico quests Calico
There are always lots of quests to get on with. Image by Melika Jeddi

Overwhelmed by Choice

One thing that immediately impressed me about Calico was the range of customization available right from the outset. When designing your character, there’s so much that you have control over. You can change your skin color, your hair, your eyes, your body shape (adorably, the section for adding or losing weight is called ‘fluff’, so if you want a fat character, you’re just saying you’re extra fluffy). You can even change your standing pose and the way that you run.

My favorite aspect of the customization, though, was the fact that as well as choosing your hairstyle, you can also wear a hijab. I love when games let you do this, and believe me, it’s not as common as you’d think. Even the games that do it will often use inaccurate asset models that don’t really look like a hijab, but not Calico.

It was spot on, and I was able to design a character I could really relate to. The only nitpick I have with the initial design screen is that you start out with the only clothing available being a t-shirt and shorts, so you can’t be fully covered at the beginning. Not that it matters that much, though, since it’s only a video game.

customization Calico
So much choice! Image by Melika Jeddi

As you progress in the game, you earn money which can be spent on various gameplay elements or customization options. Being a sucker for custom character designs, I spent most of my money on new clothing, at least for the first few days. I love how once you own a base item, you can change the design however you like.

You have access to the full spectrum of colors, adjusting however you like, and you can even add in gradients. The best thing, though, is the range of patterns available, and you can unlock more as you discover new animals in the game.

Aside from changing the look of your character, you can buy furniture for the café to make it feel like your own. I do love this. However, this part is more limited than the clothing. There’s a decent variety of furniture options available, but you can’t customize any of them. You just have to keep the furniture as it looks, and I wish we could decorate the items using the same designs as with the clothing. It’s also fiddly to place furniture evenly, I wish they’d used a grid system.

calico cafe Calico
It starts out empty, then you can customize it. Image by Melika Jeddi

Cuteness Overload

A really cool aspect of Calico is that there is an abundance of cute little animals walking around. There’s a variety of species, and even within species, there are different color options for some of them. You can interact with any animal you see and pick it up to gain access to the animal menu. From there, you can either assign an animal to the café (maximum of 10 animals), ask it to follow you, or set it free. You can also store an animal on your head and take it along for the ride.

I adore walking around with an entourage of assorted animals; my only gripe is that it’s limited to a maximum of 5 in my party. I can’t get over how hilarious it would be if I had a hundred wild animals just trailing behind me as I go about my life in the town. However, I do understand why they couldn’t do that, as the loading times would become insane (and they’re already very slow to begin with).

pets following Calico
I have the coolest friends. Image by Melika Jeddi

A cool feature I discovered is that if you jump from somewhere high whilst storing a bird on your head, you can glide! The bird will spread out its wings, and you can control which direction you glide in. It certainly beats walking down from a mountain! And don’t worry, if you happen to jump off a height whilst not storing a bird on your head, you don’t take fall damage; you’ll just land on the ground directly below where you jumped from.

Annoyingly, one supposed feature of the game was totally glitched and didn’t work at all. Early on, you gain a potion that allows you to make animals bigger. This was supposed to allow you to mount and ride the animals, but nothing happened when I tried to do it. I attempted to ride multiple animals, and it never worked, so clearly, it’s completely broken. I’m hoping they might patch this in the future, as it would be so much fun to ride animals.

Calico gliding
Nothing quite like flying down with an owl on your head. Image by Melika Jeddi

Cooking Mama without the Fun

There are 3 main gameplay elements in Calico. Doing quests for NPCs, exploring/ finding new animals, and cooking food for the café. This third element is definitely the weakest in my mind, and I feel like I have some explaining to do. One of my favorite games as a kid was Cooking Mama, so I do appreciate a good cooking game, but Calico missed the mark.

On the surface, I do like the concept of the cooking; it’s just the execution that failed. I was intrigued to see how it would work, as when you first arrive, an NPC warns you that the cooking in this world is magical and unusual. I didn’t know what that meant, and so I was taken by surprise when I went into my kitchen to prepare food, and was shrunken down to the size of an egg!

Calico tiny cooking
I quite like this mini game. Image by Melika Jeddi

The idea is that you run around the counter, picking up and preparing ingredients by following the various mini-games. However, the process is way too convoluted, and you can see that the developers played around with different ideas, and instead of condensing them into something consistent, they just threw it all in there, creating something rather haphazard.

Some meals are more fun to cook than others. It’s never enjoyable collecting the ingredients as that just involves running over, picking things up, and throwing them in a pot. Boring. However, I quite liked using the stand mixer as that one was all about timing.

The worst mini-game by far, though, was for the tart, and I still can’t believe they included it. I was in literal disbelief when I saw it. You have to play a game of pool to knock all the ingredients into the correct holes, which is made doubly hard as the hitboxes for the ingredients don’t match the visual boundaries. These mini-games are meant to take like 2-5 minutes in total, but the tart took me over 20 minutes to prepare, and I was actually UNDER the expected amount of shots for the pool game. Crazy.

Calico pool game cooking
This feels like a joke that the developers took too far. Image by Melika Jeddi


If you liked Calico and are looking for something else, or if you like aspects of Calico but want to try a different title instead, then I’ve got you covered. Check out these pawsome alternatives!

  • Mineko’s Night Market – It would be silly not to include the other cozy cat game that came out this year. Mineko’s Night Market is a much more efficient game than Calico, so if you’re put off by the latter’s rough style, then this could be more your speed. You run a night market where you sell objects that you craft, and in your free time, you rescue cats from shady government agents!
  • Venba At first glance, these two games are nothing alike. However, if you enjoy the cooking part of Calico, then you may enjoy Venba as the entire story is told through the process of cooking food. Also, both games focus showcase great inclusivity and are good for gamers looking to diversify their library.
  • Stray – For those of you who predominantly came to Calico because you like cats, and you don’t care too much about the genre, then you should check out Stray. You play as a cat in a futuristic city, desperately trying to make your way back to your pack. With decent gameplay and an intriguing story, this is enjoyable albeit definitely not cozy.



It feels harsh only giving it a 6, but unfortunately I can’t in good conscience score it any higher due to the insane amount of flaws and glitches. Initially, I was even planning to give it a 5 for the first hour or so, but after a while, I started to find myself really getting into it. It certainly grew on me after my initial disappointment in the gameplay, and there were plenty of quests to get stuck into.

I feel like Calico could’ve benefited from a couple more game developers on the team. Some games feel like they were created by people who just wanted to make any game, and came up with an idea just so they could do some developing. Calico feels like the opposite. The idea is solid and really good, but unfortunately, the quality of development wasn’t able to match their imagination. It’s a shame, as Calico had so much promise, and there are genuinely a lot of things that I did like about it.

Overall, I would still recommend purchasing it since it’s so cheap; just be prepared for a rough-around-the-edges gaming experience.

cat cookies Calico
I love how yummy all the food looks. Image by Melika Jeddi


  • It’s well-written – Even though the NPCs are pretty basic and predictable, I still enjoy talking to them, and I think the developers did a good job of crafting a consistent world.
  • Adorable graphics – As I have said multiple times, one major thing that I look for in games is that they’re cute and colorful, and Calico certainly delivers on that front.
  • Fantastic range of customization options – Nuff said.
  • A fun range of potions – Throughout the game, you find potions that have different effects. I love being able to control the weather, or make animals bigger, or turn into a cat, etc.


  • The world feels rather empty – You can’t go into a lot of the buildings, and aside from the animals and NPCs, there’s not much to interact with. I was particularly disappointed that even the arcade didn’t have any minigames you could play.
  • Soooo many glitches – I can’t adequately convey just how broken some of the mechanics are for this game. I found myself constantly saving to avoid the risk of losing progress when the game would inevitably freeze, or I’d clip inside an object, or something wouldn’t load properly, etc.
  • The cooking is too convoluted – I really wish they had made better mini-games. They’re almost all either too easy and boring or too complicated and finicky.
  • The music is annoying and repetitive – It’s on a really short loop and gets very annoying very quickly. At one point, the music stopped, and you could just hear the ambient noises in the background, which are usually drowned out. I wish they’d gone with no music, as the sound effects themselves are really peaceful.
calico arcade
I just wanna play at the arcade 🙁 Image by Melika Jeddi


Melika played Calico for approximately 5 hours total, which was long enough that the gameplay started feeling very predictable. She probably will go back and finish it at some point, but will not be trying for all the trophies.

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