Sawbuck Gamer

Cat Walk Once

Treading Untrodden Trails

There’s no going back in Cat Walk Once.

By John Teti • February 22, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

In the late 19th century, French opthalmologist Louis Émile Javal observed the movement patterns of people’s eyes while they were reading text. He found that our eyes don’t always move consistently forward through prose. Rather, amid the forward movements, we make frequent, quick jumps back over material we’ve already seen. Try something right now: Think consciously about the movement of your eyes as you read these words. It feels weird, right? Now force yourself not to go back as you keep reading and the sentence stretches on and on and remember you can’t reread anything, ever, just forge confidently ahead, always, always. It’s hard, right? The puzzle game Cat Walk Once is built on this sensation—the weird feeling of never turning back.

You are a cat—a walking cat, as you probably gathered. You’re lost in some castle or fortress or some such—the whole thing is in Japanese, and I’m rusty. But the language barrier isn’t a big deal. The important thing is that in each room of this strange land, you have to turn all the blue blocks red. Easy enough: When you walk over a blue block, it turns red. That’s good! But red blocks kill you. That’s bad.

It’s a simple premise that proves tough to manage. We’re just not wired this way. We like to remind ourselves of where we’ve been before we forge ahead. The challenge become baroque pretty quickly, with switches that rotate the force of gravity and other nuisances. I cried uncle after 30 levels or so, as there comes a point where it’s possible to understand the solution to a room but excruciatingly difficult to execute it. Even if the conceit wears thin, though, Cat Walk Once is a surprising demonstration of our ever-present desire to revisit the immediate past.

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9 Responses to “Treading Untrodden Trails”

  1. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Boreanaz Play Once.
    Game Seems Fun.
    Bookmark Created Now.
    Play Continues Later.

  2. George_Liquor says:

    Hi Rusty, I’m George!

    *Savage beatings ensue*

    • Mike Mariano says:

      I was about to say the same thing.  My Japanese is likely even more forgotten than Teti’s, though.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    When has it become so commonplace to cite the behavioral processes work of 19th century Norman doctor’s for the lead in games journalism?
       I was just reading a review of Revengeance that cited Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe Laennec’s invention of the stethoscope as a parallel to cyborg spinal column parasitism.

       …That’s not actually true.  But it would be an interesting trend.
       I think this game would make me nuts.  I’m too haphazard in my gaming for this kind of deliberation.

  4. memaxar says:

    I got stuck on 1-4. What am I missing? How do I get the ones in the middle of the room?

  5. DJ Awesome says:

    I come for the French opthalmologists and stay for the Cat Walk Once.

  6. Bowen Kerins says:

    Does it also come with a free Frogurt?

  7. Eco1970 says:

    30 levels or so is far beyond the call of duty for a sawbuck game. You’re a trooper, Sir.