Geek It! Ctrl+Gaming Review: Calico (2022)

A magical pastel land? Tick. Breakdancing cats and chubby capybaras? Tick. Soothing music? Tick. Magical potions and broomsticks? Tick. Created by a magical duo at Peachy Keen Games, CALICO is definitely one of the best games to come out from the pandemic. As an avid fan, we want to share our love for the game. Here we go!

[NOTE: This game review of CALICO was written back in February 2022)

From day one, you are given an important task: fix up the town and rebuild the town’s cat café known as ‘Calico’. To get things running, you need to explore the town and speak to other villagers. While you’re completing tasks such as getting rid of rock-slides and getting special items for your neighbours, this becomes a great opportunity to get lost and explore the world.

As we play the game at our own pace, there are no boundaries for the imagination. As one can expect from an adventure game, it is visually gorgeous, lush, and wondrous. A strong reminder of Steven Universe‘s world, its vibrant palette of pastel colours and background sceneries will have you gushing in awe.

From cascading hills with wild flowers to forests with waterfalls and glowing mushrooms, it is always a delight to explore these fantastical settings. Accompanied by a wonderful loop of instrumental melodies and soothing vocals, the overall serenade makes the gameplay stress-free and calming. If you’re an Animal Crossing connoisseur, then Calico is definitely the game for you.

As you explore the town, you can pick up stray pets to stay at the cafe and choose a party of five to follow you on missions. Cats, dogs, deers, bears, capybaras, birds, pigs, horses, foxes — the list is ongoing. You can pet these pets; plop them on your head; and even ride them during your missions!

When you’re not exploring, you can focus on setting up your cafe with cute decor, food, and of course, pets. With newfound money coming through the Till, you can purchase clothes, furniture, pet toys, and the best of all, magical potions. In this game, potions will make the town snow; you can transform your pets into giant versions of themselves; and you can even turn yourself into a cat!

For a small indie game, it was not surprising to see glitches and technical issues. However, there are more pressing disappointments that we must express. One of our earliest Calico assumptions was that there would be giant pets roaming around in Prehistoric fashion — just like the game’s opening title. And also, why can’t we have more than five pets following us? (although the actual reality of that idea could be rather chaotic!).

In addition to this, we were hoping to see more diverse animals like flying and oceanic creatures. But no whales? Otters? Belagus? Giant butterflies? Dragons? With a limitless sky and boundless oceans, it is unfortunate that nothing is happening with these beautiful settings. For future consideration, the game developers should definitely expand the world by making more mini games and utilising the settings to its full potential.

The biggest letdown in Calico was the lack of characters and interactions with them. Although we do talk to people in this game, the conversations are very blunt and NPC-like. We could make assumptions about their personalities based on their clothing style and what they do for living but we don’t get to learn about these characters in great detail. To be honest, the pets are probably more lively and charismatic than the actual humans in the game. If it weren’t for the pets, life would be very lonely in this game.

This lack of engagement can also be seen in the cafe operation as well. Yes, you get to decorate the cafe with furniture and customise the menu… but that’s it. Money automatically comes to you throughout the day but you don’t get that sense of cafe ‘ownership’ and actually partake in the customer service and interact with ‘customers’.

RATING: 8/10


CALICO is every cat lovers’ game — it’s cute, pastel-pretty, and absolutely wonderful in every manner. With its fuzzy-warm environment, it is nice to get away from reality and spend quality time in this fun and safe space. Although the game still has a lot of potential, we cannot wait to see how this game evolves in the near future.

— ENDS —

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