‘Fort Meow’ Review – Chair Beats Cat

Platforms iPad/PC Genre Puzzle/ Tower Defence

Developer Upper Class Walrus Publisher Surprise Attack

Platform Played On PC

Fort Meow, developed by South Australian based programmer Rhys Davies, combines physics-based puzzling with tower defence elements to create a charming game that will allow you to relax for a few hours. It is a lot of fun stopping cats from disturbing a little girl’s reading, but if you are looking for a longer experience you may be disappointed.

In Fort Meow, the player must stop out of control cats from disrupting a little girl, Nia, who is trying to read her grandfather’s journal. Nia visits her grandparents’ place to keep her grandma company because her grandfather has gone into hospital for surgery. However, when she arrives her grandma cannot be found, and cats have overrun the house. While the game has a kid-friendly art style, some of the narrative content – like a grandfather with a potentially life-threatening condition – was surprising for one of the target demographics. Nevertheless, the narrative is an entertaining, mysterious and sometimes humorous device that kept me engaged for the whole story.

The narrative also gives rise to the gameplay elements. To protect Nia from the cats, the player must build a fort using household objects like chairs, lamps, pillows, mattresses and grandfather clocks. Every piece is physics-based, with a drag and drop mechanic perfect for both touch controls on an iPad, or a mouse on a PC. I had a great time trying to build impenetrable forts, but some of the funnier moments were during construction when trying to meticulously balance a chair on top of two mattresses angled to make an upside down V.

What was even funnier – even though it shouldn’t have been – was when my hard work was undone by a cat who destroyed the chair that was the foundation of my fort, sending the rest of the carefully placed objects toppling down, thus becoming ineffective as a defence mechanism. The only problem I had with the fort building was that whenever you clicked on an object that was in the game, it made it hollow. This meant, if you realised you had made a mistake in the middle of the fort, or just wanted to move a piece in the middle to be more stable, it would cause everything on top of it to fall and wreck the design. It was tedious at times, but I couldn’t help laughing at my abomination of a fort. There’s almost a Plants vs. Zombies vibe to the game; if I failed I just wanted to try again to adapt my fort to the particular cats which were attacking that round.

There are six enemy types to defend against, all with different attacks. Some of these include fatter cats who will destroy multiple objects unless they hit a bean bag which will send them flying off the screen, and cats with watermelons on their head who attack low and fast, often destroying any object they hit, regardless of how many hit points it has.

To break up the pace of the fort building, Nia can explore the other rooms in the house to search for new items to use on future forts. I was finding new items at a good pace so that there was a constant stream, but I was not being bombarded with choice.

While the gameplay is fun and entertaining, it only took me a few hours to finish the game. I did enjoy my time, but there is nothing new to do after the story is finished. The only way to keep playing is to start a new game. While this is supplemented with a cheap price point, I would have been willing to pay a bit more for some extra game modes, even just the inclusion of an endless mode with scoreboards would have been great (with the state of post-launch updates, perhaps it’s still a possibility). Another gripe I had is the few weapons in the game. Some items shoot things like balls of wool, foam darts and bubbles at the cats. However, I found these items terribly ineffective. I found a use for every other item in the game except for the projectiles.

One of my favourite parts of the game was the final fort building process. Without spoiling anything, the final level in the game puts a time limit on building a fort, including fixing it up between rounds. It was frantic and chaotic, with my carefully constructed formula that I had become familiar with giving way to thirty seconds of piling pieces of furniture on top of one another and hoping physics would be on my side. While it was my favourite part of the game, it only lasted for a few minutes. The rest of the game was still fun, but the time constraint was my favourite part despite its short duration.

Fort Meow is a fun game for players of all ages. The controls are simple and well designed for touch screens and a computer mouse. The narrative is well written and very engaging, with a couple of unexpected twists thrown in too. However, the reason to buy Fort Meow is the fun, entertaining physics-based fort building. Succeeding, or failing in unsuspecting ways, I was always enjoying myself when playing Fort Meow. While I don’t agree with criticising a game’s length, I was having so much fun that I was sad when it came to an end after a few hours. Nevertheless, Fort Meow is a game you should play if you are looking for a new puzzle game on your iPad or PC.

The Good

  • Fun physics-based fort building
  • Gorgeous art-style
  • Entertaining narrative

The Bad

  • The game ends too soon
  • Projectile household objects

The Score: 7.3