See the black kitty? Pet the black kitty. Kitty? KITTY?! GET OVER HERE YOU STUPID CAT!
That is sort of how Chat Noir feels like, especially when you first start out.
Having never taken French, I had to learn from others that Chat Noir translates to “Black Cat”, but whether this black kitty is good luck or bad is almost entirely up to you.
The basics of the game are incredibly simple. You have a single black cat on a hex grid. The black cat can move to the light green tiles but not the brown tiles. You click on the light green tiles to turn them brown. Your goal is to box the kitty in so he can’t leave the board.
But when we talk about things that are easier said than done, this one definitely qualifies.
Each board provides randomly generated brown tiles, which is great, but unless you have a solid strategy mapped out, you’ll find more often than not that the black cat slips right through your fingers.
The trick to this turn based puzzler is understanding movement on a hex grid, and adjusting your strategy thusly. In some boards you’ll be blessed with plenty of brown tiles which will make trapping the kitty easy, but you’ll also come across some boards with depressingly few brown tiles where your first click could doom you.
Visually, Chat Noir is artistically simple, the three colors on a white background serving beatifully to counter point the simple elegance of the game mechanics.
Perhaps the only downfall is that the game does not come with a learning curve. Board generation is completely random, and once you get the hang of things, just about all the boards are equally easy.
The progression I went through was not being able to trap the kitty at all, to figuring a few things out that allowed me to catch him on some of the easier boards. From there I really started to get a grasp of the hex board mechanics to the point where losses started coming few and far between.
You still play for a little bit once you get beyond that point, almost as though proving to yourself that you “still got it.” But once you know for sure that you’re going to trap the kitty, there’s not much point in playing anymore.
There is one added bonus that Chat Noir provides, though. Once you reach that Nirvana like state where you can trap the cat even if they only give you two measley brown tiles, introduce a friend to the game. Watching someone go through the early and frustrating phase of learning the game is almost as fun, if not more, than finally figuring out how to catch the cat yourself. I particularly recommend introducing Chat Noir to some of your more excitable friends.
After all, who doesn’t love watching someone curse out a pixelated cat on a computer screen?
A great time in only a little bit of time (each game should take you less than five minutes), so go on and give Chat Noir a shot!