‘Catizen’ Review: Should You Play the Telegram Game Ahead of the Airdrop? – Decrypt

I’ve played the Telegram swipe-to-earn game Catizen for hours over the past few weeks, but despite this, I still can’t decide if it’s actually fun… or just mildly infuriating. 

Catizen is, for the most part, similar to the other tap-to-earn games that are currently racking up millions of players on Telegram, with the key difference here being that you need to swipe instead of tap. 

You run what is essentially a cat café, with higher-level cats earning you more passive income. Cats periodically parachute into your café, and if you get two of the same level, you can drag them onto each other to increase their level by one. The higher the value, the more money they make for you. 

In terms of gameplay, it’s more involved than some of the more basic tap-to-earn games, as you can’t just blindly tap and still succeed. However, it’s lacking any real challenge akin to puzzle favorites like Threes or 2048, which have a similar swipe-to-combine mechanic.

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Screenshots from Catizen. Image: Decrypt

However, the allure of increasing the amount of cash your cats bring in every second is strong, and may keep pulling you back to the messaging app to boot up the game, especially with the cute visuals. It’s enough that if I’m waiting around for something, I’ll boot it up and claim my passive income and combine a cat or two.  

But quickly the first of Catizen’s flaws shows up, as your total cash only updates once every few seconds, and is not tied to the visuals of people picking up your cats in the café. That creates a disconnect between what is going on and the numbers you are poring over. 

On top of that, the numbers themselves are comically large for no real reason. Instead of comprehending the number of coins I have and how much a cat costs from the store, I’m counting how many digits are in the numbers, and if they match up, I might have a shot at getting a new cat. 

This makes it very difficult to get a real sense of the value you have at any time, or how long it is going to take to afford your next cat. If the numbers were decreased by a few digits, nothing would really change, but it would be easier to understand. 

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Combined with this is the economy, which tries to scale as you get higher level cats, but instead brings things to a screeching halt as you get past the opening levels. Initially, you’ll easily be able to afford to level-up cats, and the ones that drop into your café are of a decent enough level to be useful—but soon you’ll be lucky to afford one useful cat a day.

Unlocking the next level of cats can take multiple days without putting down actual cash or TON tokens unless you leave it running and check in every 15 minutes—which seems to be the optimal way to play.

Screenshots from Catizen. Image: Decrypt

Then there’s the fishing mini-game, which I still don’t really understand why it exists. It adds basically nothing other than a confusing extra currency that you can only get any real amount of through spamming friends or social channels, or paying money. 

Catizen’s problem is that it is trying to do too much and make things bigger for no real reason. The fishing mini-game could be axed entirely and it wouldn’t change the main gameplay loop at all, the numbers could be smaller without harming the game, and the constant churn of limited-time events adds very little. 

If it refocused on just combining your cats in your café and improved the economic progression as your levels get higher, then Catizen would be a much better game. But as with most games like this, the process of making the numbers bigger is easy and satisfying enough that jumping in once or twice a day until the airdrop hits isn’t too much of a chore.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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