six cats under

Six Cats Under Stirs Up Fears About Who We Leave Behind When We Die

Six Cats Under is a cute puzzle game where a ghost plays with cats, but it still plays upon my fears. If you’ve got animals or small, helpless loved ones, you’ve probably worried about this. What will happen to my babies, furry or otherwise, when I’m gone? What will happen to them if I suddenly die and no one knows it? This game aims to bring you through that emotion. It does this by creating a bond between you and its cute characters that brings you into that mindset. In doing so, it gets you thinking of some more upsetting elements of your own mortality.

The game starts with Grandma having been crushed to death by a fallen bookshelf. Seeing her arms and head sticking out of the wreckage is honestly pretty morbid, too. Not that grandma lets this affect her much. Her first thought is about her cats and how she can help them escape the apartment. She knows that they will not survive trapped here. Thankfully, she’s read a few horror stories about ghosts affecting the living in minor ways. So, it’s up to you to figure out how to use your poltergeist powers to help the kitties free themselves.

Six Cats Under is a light, playful adventure game when you don’t think about it too much. As a ghost, you can flit about the ordinary, brightly-lit room and see so many adorable cats. There’s cats hanging out in all sorts of places, too. They hang from hammocks up high. They’re curled up on a chair watching tv. They’re snoozing in cat houses and skulking about the litter boxes in the bathroom. There’s wall-to-wall cats in here, and each has its own short, cute description if you click on them. It’s not an in-depth look at each cat’s life, but it’s just enough to give them some personality and deepen your worries about their safety.

This information offers clues on what you can do to help them escape, too. Someone among your cats is a bit easy to frighten, and that’s who you’ll want to focus on. As a ghost, you can only do so much, after all. Being able to flush the toilet and flick a light on is about the extent of your supernatural powers. Still, if you flush the toilet while your timid cat is too close, you’ll send them darting off toward the door. Maybe they’ll knock down an item you need to help continue this escape along the way, too.

Six Cats Under feels a lot like one long puzzle for this reason. You need to slowly build a chain of interactions that will lead our frightened cat to the door. To do this, you have to use your minor ghostly powers to fiddle with things. You need to use lights to call flies over. Knock over leaves to get other cats to scratch open chairs. Tip fish food over into a bowl. It’s small stuff, but each is a part of a chain of actions that will lead a cat to the door and help the others escape.

It’s not an extremely complex puzzle. Still took ages for me to solve it, though. Then again, maybe I wanted to spend a little bit more time with these adorable cats. While you’re leading the timid cat around, you’re doing it by playing with them. You’re making them jump around and chase yarn. Playfully bat at toilet paper. It’s fun to keep leading the cat forward, as you’re just making the kitty do silly things and playful tricks. There’s a sense of joy behind the puzzles and watching the cats interact with the things you do. You can’t help but feel a little bit of a happy bond beginning to form.

six cats under

That bond connects you to our departed Grandma as well as the cats in Six Cats Under. You’re sharing in a happiness that she used to feel in life. Getting into her head space while learning about the cats and their personalities. You’re walking through the place where she lived. You’re learning to love the creatures she loved. With that connection comes those same fears she’s likely feeling. Cheery as she may be while speaking, she’s probably very afraid right now.

Despite the sunny environment and charming cats, I couldn’t stop thinking grim thoughts. There was an undercurrent of fear running through me. I kept worrying about what would happen to these cats if I couldn’t figure this out. They’d starve and die, wouldn’t they? Would some of them kill or eat the others to survive a bit longer? Would they start eating Grandma’s corpse? What horrible fate awaited them if I couldn’t solve these puzzles? It was genuinely chilling to think about.

This fear started making it really hard to solve the puzzles in Six Cats Under. Happy play turned into a fearful, manic need to understand. I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t get the cats to do what I wanted. Internally, I was screaming at them to do what I wanted. “Don’t you know you’ll die if you don’t do what I ask?” These thoughts kept running through my head as my solutions became more panicked. I continually made mistakes. All because I was having a hard time ignoring the horrifying images of what might happen. What WOULD happen if I didn’t do this just right.

This got me thinking of my own family and my fears about them. I had a choking scare a few weeks ago, but managed to deal with it. What if I hadn’t? If I hadn’t saved myself, what if I’d been all alone with my kids and the dog? What if no one came looking for me to check on me? My children are very young, so would they get hurt while waiting for someone to help them? How long would it take? What would happen in even a short amount of time? The game set all of these terrifying thoughts in motion, eventually reaching a point where I had to take a break just to calm down.

Despite its bright, vibrant visuals and playful cats, Six Cats Under still drags you into thinking about some genuine fears about death and the loved ones we leave behind. It draws you in with lovely descriptions of your feline friends, sees you bonding with them over play, but then brings you into that fearful mindset that would be going through your head in this bizarre, supernatural situation. It made me think of my own mortality and the safety of my kids in ways that left me surprisingly shaken. Which is pretty wild for a game about playing with cats.