There are certain genres which have moved through the times with us from 2D to 3D and even into Virtual reality, the FPS, Simulation, Puzzle games, and even 3rd person side-scrolling games. However, there is one genre, which was extremely popular back in the late 90’s, which hasn’t received the modern touch – until now – the Virtual pet. the thing is, VR feels like it would be a perfect match for this genre as you are placed within a virtual world so why not have a virtual animal to look after? FusionPlay has answered our calls and the newly out-of-early-access title, Konrad the Kitten, has been brought to us on PSVR; however, it does come with some requirements and has some limitations – so, is Konrad the Kitten the Tamagotchi of the future? Let’s find out…
If you have ever played any kind of virtual pet game in the past then you will be well acquainted with the premise of the game. You are the owner of Konrad, a cute tabby kitten, which you must check on daily in order to fulfil his needs. As you increase Konrad’s level, you will unlock new areas of the house to visit and new activities for both Konrad and the both of you to participate in. In order to increase Konrads level you must see to his needs and wants such as, feeding, sleeping, playing, bathing and more – each activity even has its own outcome, some will give you more ‘love’ (exp), coins (for buying accessories), or unlock new items around the house to play with.
You gain coins via the mini-games which are where you physically play with Konrad – these range from hunting mice, fishing, an obstacle course, and more. Within these mini-games, you take control of Konrad and must complete the objective to get the highest points possible to unlock more coins for the in-game accessory shop. Don’t worry if you skip a few days or can’t check in on him often as, unlike a standard virtual pet, Konrad can’t die. He will become lonely and bored, but you don’t have to worry about booting up the game to be greeted with a dark message that you neglected your pet for too long so he has passed away – unlike the old-school Tamagotchis which seem to do so if you leave them for a day or two and forget to feed them.
The main portion of the game will revolve around you taking care of Konrad directly – you pick him up and a little thought bubble-style window will appear and show you what types of events will make him the happiest. These could be feeding him, putting him in a box so he can sleep, playing with his smartphone (which is so cute), or simply stroking his belly as he purrs and the controller vibrates in your hands. You are free to perform any interactions you want, but seeing to his needs is usually the best thing to do as you are more likely to get more exp in doing so. As you level up, you will see floating icons for new areas, activities or mini-games, be sure to hit them with Konrad in order to collect them – just don’t throw the kitten (as you are told a few times whilst playing!).
The other portion will be the mini-games, these were a bit hit or miss with myself due to limitations – which I’ll come to next. When they work, they are great – the mice catching game is like whack-a-mole but you see a load of mice running around the floor and you must manually hit them with Konrad in order to catch them. It’s all comical so there is no blood or anything like that – the mice simply go from 3D to 2D once you hit them as they appear squashed. But watch out – there are mouse-traps on the floor which will also squash the mice but if Konrad hits one then he gets a sore paw and can’t attack for a while.
The second mini-game I unlocked was the obstacle course – if you have ever seen or played Superman 64 on the N64 – think that, only with a kitten instead of Superman! Using the controller, you have the manually move Konrad through rings which are placed around you without touching them – once you complete all the ones on the screen, a new layout will appear and you carry on until the time runs out. This one frustrated me a little but not due to the game but due to the amount of space I had, which I’ll come to in a minute, which resulted in me being unable to hit all the rings in my house – however, when I went to my parents house, who has more room, everything worked perfectly
There are a few other mini-games as well but I don’t want to ruin all of the enjoyment of uncovering new things.
The coins you obtain can be spent in the shop – which appears to be run, or at least constantly visited by (as he is on the wrong side of the counter) a giant teddy bear! Here you can purchase new skins for Konrad (sounds sordid but it isn’t, it just changed the colour of his coat), clothes, hats, glasses, and even facial hair. I went with the standard top hat and monocle but I’m yet to unlock the Poirot moustache – so instead Konrad is wearing a shirt and jeans! There are over 50 accessories to unlock, not all of them are available from the start as they unlock based on Konrad’s level, and they will take a lot of coins to unlock them all – which is required if going for all the trophies.
One of the things I get, but had an issue with at first, is the energy bar. The game has taken a lot of elements from past virtual pet games and this is one of them – every activity you do with Konrad drains a certain amount of his energy. Once Konrad is out of energy then he won’t do anything else with you, apart from hiss, until tomorrow. I see this as a good and bad thing – it’s bad for people like myself who want to sit there for hours and play with him in order to progress and unlock more things, yet it’s also good as the target audience are most likely younger people and this will technically limit their use of the VR to around 30 minutes a day whilst looking after Konrad. When I step back and look at it, the 30ish minutes is a good call as it means parents can let their kids play without having to worry about how long they have spent in the device.
Also, the fact you only have about 30 mins a day with Konrad helps keep the game fresh. I was unlocking new things each day I played it which mean I had new things to experience and new games to play. If I could sit down and unlock everything in one go and experience it all then I believe the game would have become stale very fast as you are technically doing the same thing in a lot of the activities. But, having it on a limited energy bar and giving you new things each day really helped keep me interested and coming back for more each day.
The main issue I had with this game, which I wasn’t aware of before I tried the game – due to it being unreleased and my own lack of doing research on the requirements, was the amount of space required. The game isn’t played standing up, neither is it played sat on a chair or your sofa – it’s played with you literally sat on the floor at a set angle and a set distance from the TV. The game does a good job of running you through the setup process, it calculates the angle the camera is at and tells you what it recommends and it even lets you adjust the floor height so everything matches up – but the requirements are quite big if you have a small flat like myself. The game itself requires a 2m x 1.5m play area on the floor approx 1.5m away from the PS4 camera. I had to move a few things around to create this space as usually the play areas don’t matter as your stood up or on a chair, but floor space is one luxury I don’t have a lot of.
That being said, once I went to my parents house, who have a lot more room, the game was great to play – it mapped the floor perfectly, shows you a virtual space where you need to sit, let me adjust the height of the floor and everything was tracked without a hitch – just be sure you have a decent amount of room if you are looking to get Konrad the Kitten as you will get more enjoyment out of it the more room you have.
Now for something, you may or may not have heard of – how the game uses the Move controllers. You have two methods of play – you can either use one move controller as normal – the controller is a virtual hand and you can pick up Konrad and the controller actually becomes Konrad one he has been picked up. Alternatively, and quite possibly the best way to play the game, you can strap your move controller to the back of a plush toy and enable plush mode. This is different in that you literally put the toy on the floor while Konrad is eating or playing yet in VR you see him moving about – then when you pick him up, you’re not holding a move controller, you’re holding a soft, cuddly toy instead. This worked really well and the game doesn’t only track the move’s orbs but also the gyroscope – this means that even if the toy obstructs the orb, the game doesn’t throw up big “out of play area” messages, it continues to track the toy based on movement rather than the literal light tracking.
I played the game in both plush and non-plush mode and I found that at home, with the limited space, non-plush was the way to go as it didn’t require me to put the controller down (which will require more room the bigger your plushy). Yet at my parents, the plush mode was clearly the way to play – the game felt more real and interactive like nothing I’ve played so far in VR. Just like how back on the Wii they had the Cooking Mama baby game and you got a doll which you put the Wii mote in to make it seem more realistic, I feel this option is really, really good and certainly tricked you into thinking you have a small kitten in your hands. And don’t worry – if your plush is quite big (mine was a 12″ cuddly Pikachu) then you can even pick a ‘big plush’ mode and Konrad appears bigger in-game so it doesn’t ruin the immersion.
Graphically, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I think Sony has done something with the PSVR as all the games are looking really clear recently, Konrad the Kitten is no exception. Everything has bright colours and looks super cute. Don’t expect AAA style realistic graphics, but that’s not what FusionPlay have gone for – they have gone for the family-friendly cute look and they have pulled it off purrfectly. Konrad is really well detailed and of all the clothing and accessories I tired, not one of them had clipping issues while all looking stunning when placed upon him. Sure, the textures are basic, things aren’t as rounded as they can be (I’m looking at you LPs on the wall) and items on the floor like the TV remote look flat – but that’s not the point – the main focus is Konrad and he is great – not to mention when playing with the TV remote you get a few laughs as he flicks through the various TV stations.
Sound-wise, not much I can say – the music is delightful, the sound effects fit purrfectly and Konrad is so cute! From someone who used to have a cat in their old house yet had to give him away when moving into a ‘no-pet allowed’ flat 8 years ago, having Konrad really cheered me up. When he purrs in-game the motion controller vibrates along with it and if you’re using a plush then the whole toy vibrates and it feels surprisingly real. Other than that, if you pop on headphones then just hearing him scratching on the scratch post or drinking from the water bowl really does show that the developer has put a lot of love into their game.
Trophies – the trophies revolve around visiting each new area which you unlock as you level up, playing and scoring certain amounts in the mini-games, and unlocking all the accessories. There is no platinum, only 100% but this game isn’t for the hardcore trophy hunter anyway as it requires you to dedicate a lot of time over numerous days in order to unlock all of the trophies and accessories. To me, this is more a game where you play for fun and the trophies will just come to you naturally as you progress.
Konrad the Kitten isn’t for everyone – it’s a game built of out love for people who want a virtual pet they can visit either daily or every now and again and experience in VR. I can personally see this being more appealing to the younger age ranges which is why the ~30minute playtime is a good idea as it means parents can allow their children to jump in without being in it for hours on end. One thing to be aware of is the amount of floor space required – if you have enough then be sure to use plushy mode as it’s probably the best implementation of the move controllers I’ve seen so far. All-in-all, I really enjoyed my time with Konrad and I can see myself popping in from time to time to see what other things I can unlock.
Konrad the Kitten£11.99
- Plush mode is the best use of the move controllers yet
- The VR works really well with no isuses
- Konrad and his accessories look great
- Sound design is spot-on
- With the energy limitations, it has you coming back for more each day
- The floor space requirement (2m x 1.5m) may affect people in smaller residencies
- Some of the activities and mini-games can get repetitive (the energy limitation helps to stop this becoming too bad though)
- Doesn't appear to be a way to change your distance from the camera - it has a set distance based on your camera angle
- It's a shame Konrad doesn't respond to his name being called our verbally