Calico – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Peachy Keen Games
Publishers: Whitethorn Digital, Maple Whispering
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Tested On: Switch

Calico – Review

Site Score
4.5
Good: Cute animals, Good sountrack, Pretty coloring
Bad: Loads of bugs, Inconsequential gameplay, Not the advertised genre
User Score
2.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 2.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Business management simulators have existed for a very long time and cover almost any field. Getting to design and organize something has appeal, often being relaxing and entertaining experiences. Sadly, despite at first seeming like a café management game, Calico ultimately proves to be something different and here is why.

Story

Calico has almost no story, with the only setup given being that the player has just moved into Heart Village to take care of their aunt’s café after her retirement. All of this information is relayed by Mayor Kiva, who players will encounter upon finishing the character creation.

After a short conversation with the mayor, where she will explain the basic mechanics, players will be tasked with talking to the other neighbors and learning about the blocked path to the mountain, starting the main gameplay loop.

Besides the short introduction, Calico also provides short conversations with other characters while they hand out quests. These dialogues provide insight into their personalities and flesh them out a tad. That said, due to meaningful dialogues only appearing for quests, this characterization is ultimately irrelevant, as any further attempts to hold conversations will only provide one-liners.

Graphics

The game’s visual style consists of simple 3D models with pastel watercolor-like tones and several different environments. There is also plenty of variation in the character and animal designs, although the latter are surprisingly mostly slight changes to base models. Calico also includes a character creator with a healthy amount of options in most departments, although the male ones are quite lacking and several sliders seem to have no effect.

Sadly, the game includes plenty of visual issues to go around. These include, but are not limited to, FPS drops, streaks through the screen and models clipping into each other. Something else worth mentioning is the extremely small render radius, with anything slightly far from the player not loading its textures until approached.

Sound

Calico’s sound design is quite good, with a great soundtrack and well made SFX. That said, the sound mixing for the latter is quite iffy, with certain animal and water sounds playing much more loudly than anything surrounding them. The game also includes voices for the characters, although this doesn’t mean voice acting, going instead for the Animal Crossing approach of nonsensical speech sounds.

Gameplay

While Calico’s gameplay is presented as a café management sim on its store page, this is rather untrue. What the game offers instead is something more akin to a classic open-world RPG, focusing its core gameplay loop on doing quest after quest for the villagers in order to obtain furniture or small sums of money.

Funnily enough, the café itself becomes rather irrelevant really soon, with little to no reason for visiting it besides when quests demand it. Besides decorating, the building also has two other uses, these being animal storage and the cooking “minigame”.

What this so-called minigame consists of is quite simple: the player will shrink and walk around a table with ingredients twice their size, from which they will have to select the appropriate ones before tossing them into a bowl. While already simple enough, this little mechanic features no failure state, meaning it always relies on the same repetitive process.

Other than questing and the few café mechanics, players can also interact with the wild animals found throughout the world. These can be pet, grabbed and mounted, with the options to make them follow the player or go to the café also available. That said, only mounting the animals has a relative purpose, allowing for a slightly faster movement than the sluggish pace at which the player character moves.

These interactions aren’t without issues either, seeing as the patting animation can bug out and have the player’s hand go through the animal’s body or lock them into a path approaching the animal with their arm extended. The same goes for the grabbing, which oftentimes can trigger ridiculous ragdoll mechanics where the animal’s limbs will snap backwards, go through their bodies or even the ground.

Surprisingly enough these aren’t the only bugs Calico includes, containing quite an unhealthy amount of them for a finished game. There are instances of quest objectives not spawning, soft-locking into not unlocked areas, character dialogues not triggering, etc.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Calico is an extremely underwhelming game with lacking features under a friendly coat of paint. Those expecting a management simulator should look elsewhere, as the only reason to play the game is interacting with cute animals and farming quests to afford furniture. Luckily, the game is not the most expensive at €9,99/$11.99/£8.99, although buyer discretion is advised.

Personal Opinion

“Going into Calico I expected an entertaining and relaxing game where I’d be able to manage a café and interact with the villagers, something like Moonlighter or Recettear but without the dungeons. What I encountered was a series of disconnected quests handed out by characters I couldn’t bring myself to care about, a shallow decoration system and animal collecting for the sake of doing so. The game even broke its own rules, stating at the start other people’s pets couldn’t be taken and instantly allowing me to steal someone else’s cat. Calico ultimately has a complete lack of purpose and plenty of issues to talk about. Something I personally found quite irking is the lack of options for male character creation: whereas almost two dozens of female haircuts exist, only a few male ones do, limiting the choice for seemingly no reason. While it may seem a strange thing to complain about, this half-assing of the options only made me wish they hadn’t even bothered giving them in the first place. I’d also like to mention that, funnily enough, in what I’m sure was only an oversight or a bug (/s), screenshot and video capture on the Switch version are completely disabled. This means I had to use store screenshots for the review instead of ones showing all the characters pathing towards the cafe only to get clumped in a glitchy mess or the limbs of my animals clipping through the environment.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 2.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Calico - Review, 2.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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