lost, a post-apocalyptic adventure game about a cat, is mostly great. Two of us at my box recently driven through his puzzlesdevours them dense, mysterious post-apocalyptic environment and generally enjoying life power-fantasy playing cat. Then we hit the credits. Obviously we needed to talk.
Ari Note: John, we’re both done lost. Tell me: is the end upon you? Did it… detract from what made the rest of the game so great?
John Walker: I knew we were just a whisker away from a pun. No, I would say my experience lost was a straight diagonal line that started high and then got lower and lower until the end was absolutely terrible.
Ari: I’m not quite the same – more of a really high plateau that suddenly fell off a cliff at the end – but I totally agree, that ending is terrible. I actually had to warn people IRL: This is so freaking sad!
John: And yet, I’ve had so many people so furiously tell me off for suggesting the ending is completely forgettable FOR THE WHOLE REASON I PLAY THE GAME. But I think a lot of it is a reluctance to admit that Pretty Cat has long since become just another gray third-person robot game, so the defense against reality is already very high.
Spoilers follow lost.
Ari: Ah, yes, that blog kind of rubbed some people back, didn’t it? But yeah, the whole reason to play lost is quite simple: you want to reunite the cat with his friends. And you go through all these adventures — including the robot-shooting parts about which we disagree on the merits, but in which I totally respect your opinion — only to have no idea that he’s seeing his friends again. It’s a very strange ending to a game that is otherwise so concerned with hope.
John: They’re not even just friends, are they? They are siblings who love each other. They are an abandoned litter of kittens who survive the apocalypse and then one of them goes down. This creates a game that is, of course, singularly focused on getting back to your siblings. And instead, they seem to have just completely forgotten. They got involved in some completely pointless obscene sacrifice.
Ari: Yes! For a game about a cat, she got too caught up in the drama surrounding the human. Do you buy that B-12 is really the last man alive? And more importantly, did you buy that he suddenly turned tail (sorry, sorry, I can’t help it) and decided within minutes that all vestiges of humanity weren’t worth continuing?
John: Well, he is a human consciousness trapped in a machine. It’s one small city district, so for all we know, millions of people could be happily living elsewhere in China, Sweden, Bangladesh or Australia. And all this does not explain the rationale of his apparent “sacrifice”. Obviously he’s uploading his consciousness into the computer, so there’s no victim anyway, but other than that, what was his purpose? Why release a cat, a creature that has no interest in anything but itself, back into the wild? What purpose? If this was the end of humanity, as the game implies, he did it so he could…release the cat?
Ari: Oh man, no way, the cat definitely evolved before mere selfishness! (My cats should take note.) For example, in the prison scene, he escapes with Clementine, and then he’s like, “Meow, meow, meow, meow,” which I guess means, “We can’t leave yet. We have to do a risky operation and rescue my friend B12 who is trapped in this cage guarded by lasers and laser shooting robots.
John: I have been very confused the whole time as to whether I should have bought a cat to understand what the B-12 was saying or how about with my cats I just see where the noise is coming from and hope there is food along the way. I played it like a game where an uninterested cat accidentally flips the right switches or bumps into the right person.
But for all that, I would have forgiven any horrible condescending faux-victim nonsense if my cat had finally stepped out into the bright sunshine and heard a surprised, “Meow?!” That was it. That’s all I needed. I didn’t need to see the huddle, watch them slide into each other. I just needed to know it was going to happen.
Ari: exactly! And I kind of understand what they were going for by leaving the finale open-ended so that the story wouldn’t be in order for the audience. But all it took was the faintest suggestion that a happy ending might happen, which is what a little “meow” behind the screen would have accomplished.
John: What’s even weirder is that they made this “Maybe!” ends Except it was about a bloody human! We turned on the computer light, and I can only assume that B-12 is still alive.
Ari: So what does this mean for the sequel? All robot shooting parts, no cute cat stuff?
John: Sure, I hope they don’t make a sequel. They are a talented group, but lost revealed that they had absolutely no idea what to do with the idea. Either I want to see their next new idea, or I’m just focused on making the cat sim that everyone wanted so badly. God, those microscopic observations they showed near the beginning. And the joyful moment when the cat puts on the funny saddle for the first time. We had to put a safety stocking on one kitten after she was spayed and she did the exact same thing, only she collapsed like a building was on top of her. It was a joy to see these details so neatly executed. Which makes some boring robo-guy, maybe not killing himself for the dumbest reason, a disappointment.
Ari: Poor kitten! Please tell me you have pictures of it.
Ari: Awwww. but yes lost you absolutely feel like you’re a cat, right down to waltzing through the keyboard and people’s chess games and such. And I think that usually carries that feeling all the way through. (Even the shooting segmentswhich flashed through my mind—I actually wanted an extra chapter or two.) But unlike a real cat, the game didn’t land on all four legs.
John: Before I end, and you’re wrong about the shooting parts, let me tell you how it ended at our house: Toby, my 7-year-old, had some friends over when I finished the game. on the living room TV. Toby completely lost interest in the game when he was no longer a cat, but wanted to be there for the meeting. Since it was clear that the game was going to put me out, I said to him, “Toby, what do you think is going to happen?” He sat down, “Kittens! So we all watched the inevitable, glorious moment… And there was simply nothing. And we looked at each other in surprise. It was just so freaking scary. After that, Toby continued to moan about this carelessness. And when a 7-year-old criticizes your story structure, you know something is wrong.