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Game Info:

Calico
Developed By: Peachy Keen Games
Published By: WhiteThorn Digital
Released: December 15, 2020
Available On: Windows, Mac, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Genre: Simulation, RPG
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $11.99

Thank you, Peachy Keen Games, for sending us your game to review!

Personally, I’m not into super girly things. Too much cute (and I mean over-the-top, sugar-sweet cute) doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever. However, I’ll always fawn over cats. I love cats. I’ve even got two rascally fur-balls at home, and it would appear that the developers from Peachy Keen Games love cats too. Their life simulation and RPG game, Calico, invites its players to run a pink café on an island full of adorable felines. Sounds like the sweetest, most innocent concept for a game, right? Well, I’d withhold that assumption if I were you. Because evil doesn’t just come in blacks and reds. It can come in pink too.

If I were to quickly describe Calico’s gameplay, I’d call it a combination of Fantasy Life and Animal Crossing. You’re basically allowed to free roam and complete small quests for townspeople, who give and sell you stuff to help customize your café. With tons of collectible furniture, recipes, and clothes for your avatar, you’ll have plenty to work with. However, as far as I’m concerned, Calico’s main attraction isn’t the café. It’s the cats. These sweet kitties wander everywhere. You can carry them, pet them, play with them, and let them roam inside your establishment. You can even ride cats if they’re big enough. Of course, if you’re more of a dog person, there’s plenty of happy canines running around too - as well as birds, foxes, deer, pigs, bunnies, bears, you name it. This island is literally an animal paradise, and I must say, the animals were certainly the most enjoyable aspect for me. There’s just something about riding a white dog with a cat on top of my head that’s equal parts hilarious and ‘awww’. In fact, cute and silly kinda describes Calico in a nutshell. Because, for as much cuteness as it throws at you, it throws just as much ridiculousness. For instance, Calico’s title screen was filled with hundreds of floating cats and dogs. I’m not kidding. They drifted about like bouncing bubbles. I don’t know why. They just did. It certainly drew a perplexed chuckle out of me, and that was far from the last time I reacted that way. The credits sequence in particular was one of the most ludicrous pieces of gaming goofiness I ever witnessed. I don’t even know if I can describe how hilariously deranged it was. Was it a ‘good’ kind of ridiculous? Well, no. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it truly ‘good’. Still, did it entertain me? Yes. Yes, it did.

Calico
Highlights:

Strong Points: Cute Setting; Adorable Animals; Pleasing Color Palettes
Weak Points: Occasional Glitches; Lackluster Gameplay; Cumbersome Controls
Moral Warnings: LGBTQ Content; Witchcraft; Inappropriate Attire; Minor Language

Of course, there is a whole lot more to Calico than riding and seeing funny cats and dogs. There are townsfolk to help, places to explore, and macaroons to bake. Thankfully, none of these things are difficult nor take long to do, but sometimes that’s not a good thing. You see, much of the actual helping, exploring, and baking in Calico feels either unremarkably standard or odd and pointless. As for the unremarkably standard part, helping people chalks up to boring fetch quests. Most of the time, very little actually happens besides earning something. Exploring the island isn’t terribly exciting either. Sure, each environment you unlock has its own flora and fauna, but beyond that, there isn’t anything really new to interact with. It all felt ‘same-y’ - as if I visited the same room with a different paint job five times. As for the odd and pointless part of Calico, one significant bit are the conversation options. Sometimes, when being given three dialogue responses to choose from, all my options say the exact same thing. Why am I being given the option of no option? That’s kind of a significant oversight if you ask me. Baking is also a bizarre affair. Anytime you want to cook up a new culinary treat, you become ant-sized then have to chuck ingredients into a bowl on the countertop. No explanations. No reasons why. You’re just turned itty-bitty and told to toss ingredients. I guess I should have already figured I’d be encountering stuff like this just based on the title screen’s floating cats, but I’m unsure if I’m really all that charmed by it. I suppose that’s more of a personal taste thing.

Something that hinges less on personal taste, though, are matters of controls and game stability. Unfortunately, I think Calico’s controls could have been a little better. I used the controller as the game recommended for my review. It worked pretty well, but the large number of inputs were easy to confuse. Sometimes, I wanted to pick up a cat but kept pulling out pet toys instead. It took me a bit to get out of ‘toy mode’. Trying to set up furniture was particularly cumbersome. The fact that I had to recall the exact order of button presses to select, place, and rotate objects all the time just slogged the whole thing down. Camera controls were okay too, but it sometimes veered into odd angles. Calico is also guilty of having glitches. Most glitches were more hilarious than frustrating, thank goodness. The occasional twitchy person or animal always gets a good laugh. Unfortunately, they occurred enough times for me to sense an instability in the software, and one particular bug did freeze the game entirely. I had to reboot the game that time and lost an hour’s worth of progress. Not fun.

For all its flaws, I’ll give Calico this much. Its visuals are nice. Its got problems too, but its nice. Pastel pinks, greens, and yellows color most of the island. Plus, there’s this sort of dappled, painted quality to its textures. All of which lends the game this gentle, welcoming, softness that befits a feminine style. I also give the artists kudos for driving the cat theme home with cat-shaped clouds and a cat-shaped mountain. Where the aesthetics falter a bit, though, is the animation department. It’s mostly serviceable, but animals I pick up (including the horses and bears) look floppy with their legs flinging about like limp noodles. Non-feline animals I play with exude feline behavior for some reason, and they fold in on themselves whenever they do. Still, the biggest oddball is your avatar’s running animation. Tell me. Have you ever seen anybody run by rapidly bouncing on tippy-toes and holding their flailing arms straight out in front as if clumsily attempting to strangle someone? I certainly haven’t . . . until now. As for Calico’s music, it’s pretty relaxing with its pianos and light percussion. However, the main theme did grate on my nerves after a bit, and sometimes the music would cut out for no apparent reason. I don’t know if it did that by design or if it’s a glitch. Either way, it felt a bit awkward.

Calico
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 52%
Gameplay - 10/20
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 61%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 4.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

But you want to know what’s really really awkward about Calico? Its appalling lack of morals. True, you’re not breaking laws nor surrounded by potty-mouthed scoundrels, but here’s what you are surrounded by: witchcraft and the LGBTQ agenda. That’s right. For as innocent looking as Calico is, it didn’t take long before the game shoved its witches and lesbians in my face expecting me to aid those practices. One girl asked me to reconnect her with her girlfriend. Another girl insisted on being addressed as an ‘it’. I’m encouraged to use potions to cause special effects, and I was eventually given a witch’s broom to fly on. It’s unapologetically blatant. Now, some might wonder if the witches in Calico are of the more fantasy-fun variety. Personally, I felt it leaned more towards real-world occult because some witches get pretty detailed in how their magic and ceremonies work. The game even requires you to engage in three rituals, and based on my own studies on certain cults, the way these rituals operate runs on very similar logic. The fact that some characters aren’t dressed conservatively and the word ‘butt’ shows up on occasion doesn’t help Calico’s case either. This game indeed put up a good front, but what lies beneath its pretty pink surface, I don’t care to dabble with any more than I have to.

Calico reminds me of a community nearby my hometown. It’s got lovely buildings with colorful paint jobs. I’m sure its populace is quite friendly too, but that community also puts up gay flags and are accepting of paganistic spiritualism and non-traditional values. It’s a lovely outside but with a dark inside. Now, I understand that I’m likely stepping on some toes here by referring to LGBTQ relations and Wiccan practices as wrong, but it’s important to remember that we here at Christ Centered Gamer uphold the Bible as God’s Word and are dedicated to delivering Biblically grounded reviews. Thus, when God says homosexual relations and witchcraft are sinful, we must refer to them as sinful. It doesn’t mean we hate those who indulge in such practices. After all, we ourselves are sinners too. It doesn’t matter which sins someone commits. The fact is, we all have, but just because we all sin, doesn’t mean we should normalize it or be proud of it. What does matter is whether or not we recognize sin for what it is. Because if we can’t call sin ‘sin’ anymore, what need would there be for any of us to seek the life changing forgiveness of God? That’s the real life-threatening issue here, and it’s that same issue that completely undermines any silly, adorable enjoyment I could scrape up from Calico. I think I’ll sit and cuddle with my own cats for my feline fix instead.

About the Author

Hannah Colvin

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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