Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Become one with a miscreant feline in Catlateral Damage

Become one with a miscreant feline in Catlateral Damage

I always had a close relationship with my family’s three cats growing up. If I had a bad day, I could always count on one of them to comfort me; sliding into my room without a sound, signified only by a loud purr and my sudden urge to sneeze (note: I am allergic). I’d be lying if there weren’t numerous instances where I wondered what it’d be like to be a cat. To sleep seemingly all day, annoy humans, and prowl the town at night—tall wood fences being my bridges into the real world. In Chris Chung’s cat destruction simulator Catlateral Damage, players are given the opportunity to live out their cat-inhabiting dreams. And with its free Playstation VR update, players can now truly become one with the feline.

Chaos is encouraged

Catlateral Damage has flirted with VR before. In May of this year, the game ushered in a VR update in its Steam release for HTC Vive users. Both VR versions work the same—there’s an objective mode with a time limit and a non-restricted, sandbox mode. In both, you’re the cat, equipped with two complete paws, ready to ghost-teleport around the room to swat anything in sight. It takes the age-old (sort of) joy of tossing things around in VR to new heights. 

That’s the goal of Catlateral Damage: to destroy everything, just as a real cat would swat a vase from a nightstand. While in its PSVR iteration, I nearly took the game to new heights. With the tracking issues on PSVR (as I’ve recounted in the past), using the Move controllers makes some games harder to control than they should be. But at least with Catlateral Damage, chaos is encouraged. Seeing my paws vibrate out of control as I tried to knock over a cereal box was surprisingly not jarring. I repeatedly nudged the pillows on my couch onto the floor on accident, unawares of my actual surroundings for a fleeting moment.

Look at that mess.
Look at that mess.

If anything, some of the necessary repeated swipes (tracking issues abound) are probably more akin to the actual Feline Experience. While Catlateral Damage doesn’t keep interest for long stretches of time, and it’s probably better that way. I can see myself hopping back in for the occasional destruction romp. Teleporting to dangerous spots in this cat’s domain, while accidentally knocking over things in my real-life own living room in the process. Being a cat in VR is, surprisingly, kinda dope.

Catlateral Damage is available for Playstation VR and the HTC Vive for $9.99.

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