With the death of Miniclip, I got a little nostalgic for browser games. My favourite flavour of games of that era were the restaurant games where you single-handedly ran a stand for passers by. You'd have to manage the orders of a bunch of people at one time and correctly put ingredients together for hot dogs, burgers, and other meals with several components. They were repetitive and fun and after the death of one of the biggest flash sites, I desired that repetitiveness once again.
So I headed over to Itch.io and found An Average Day at the Cat Cafe (opens in new tab) which is a suitably strange yet adorable restaurant sim. You're the owner of a cafe with just one cat, actually, but the clients you serve are more like Tamogotchis than they are people.
The team behind An Average Day at the Cat Cafe is made up of just three people, so the game is pretty small in scope, which lines up how I remember all these restaurant games in the past. You scurry from place to place in your little cafe kitchen to create some adorable meals and beverages for your patrons who are… ducks and cats and other animals.
The art style of An Average Day at the Cat Cafe is made up of light lines and pastel colours. It reminds me of watercolour paintings I've seen of people's little cosy homes, riverside plants or cute animals. It's very sweet and fresh while your singular little cat lives snoozing in the bottom left of your screen.
The cute theme of the game doesn't hold back the chaos though. One wrong move after a while and there's no saving the customer from turning and walking right out that door annoyed, huffing and puffing about your terrible service. The ingredients and the order you must put them together in is precise and individual. There is also no telling how long a customer is willing to wait as there isn't a timer above their heads—you just have to do your best to give them exactly what they want.
But even in their fury it's fun to see these faces come and go. From frogs with walking sticks to a little bear with the most chiselled chin you could ever imagine, there is something Toby Fox-esque or Tamogotchi-like about most of the customers you encounter.
Though the sweet premise, the cute art style, and the normal mutant duck things are enough to be getting on with, there are a few other things you might encounter that make An Average Day at the Cat Cafe slightly unsettling. The game doesn't prepare you for the odd requests of the clients you meet at night, if you could even call them clients.
Though it's a cat cafe, and I would have assumed you'd shut your doors at a sensible five or six pm, you stay open way into the night and encounter an altogether creepier clientele with less common cafe orders. There are monsters that walk backwards with butts protruding forth and all they want is toilet paper. So, of course, that's what you give them. With the limited animation of An Average Day at the Cat Cafe, I don't know if they eat it, or they need it to wipe, or maybe they just like holding onto tissue in case of emergencies, but hey at least I don't need to make another damned boba tea.
I don't want to ruin the other requests you get in the night because one of them is hilariously dark tonally and I'm pretty sure some of the things you meet are demons. It's unsettling in the smallest of ways but it does compel you to try out each day hoping to understand what sort of world all of this is happening in.
The game isn't super complex or detailed but it's exactly what I wanted when craving those old restaurant sims I played as a kid. With Halloween just around the corner, its slightly unsettling situation makes it a great game for someone like me that doesn't like intensely scary stuff. Best bit is that it's a browser game and free, so why not have a little break and try it out as an evening treat or lunch time adventure?