Review: The Cat and the Coup (PC)

Huzzah for Edutainment!

Leave it to a cat to grrom itself while its master lies dead next to it.

I was sitting around today listening to some Townes Van Zandt and generally enjoying myself when I remembered I’d promised my editor a write-up for the indie game The Cat and the Coup, so I actually stopped the music just to go back and retry the game and have it fresh in my mind, just for you guys, the readers, who might otherwise miss this exceptional videogame.

The Cat and the Coup was developed by Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad at the University of Southern California as a documentary game based on the life of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first and only democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, who, as luck would have it, was ousted by the CIA at the behest of the British. Now why would we go and remove a democratically elected, relatively liberal and progressive leader of what is now one of the most fundamentalist countries in the world? Well, according the the game – and history – Dr. Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil. Some of you might not understand what “nationalizing” a country’s resources might mean, seeing as here in the West we do the opposite by privatizing just about everything we can get away with. Basically, by nationalizing the oil, (theoretically) the revenue from Iran’s oil would start going to the people of Iran, instead of British industrial interests in faraway England. Why is this bad? Well, it’s communism son, and we don’t stand for that sort of thing ’round these parts.

Now that I’ve taken care of the editorial portion of this article, let’s talk about the game a bit. The Cat and the Coup is a videogame in the lighter sense of the term, in that there is very little game and a lot more video. You play as the good doctor’s cat (small, four legs, lick themselves inappropriately), and jump from one room through another in a reverse chronological order of Dr. Mosadegh’s life starting from his death and going through his arrest, his nationalizing the oil (commie!), his election, and so on. Your job as nature’s perpetual moody jerk is to mess with everything the doctor tries to do, be it knocking things over or trying to drown him in a room full of raw crude oil. Why you do these things, I couldn’t tell you, but it moves the story forward (or backward, it is reverse chronology after all) and helps you get to the end (starting) credits.

The art and design style is probably the most notable part of the game, and looks something like if Terry Gilliam had used Persian art instead of whatever that medieval stuff was when they made that Holy Grail movie, and then crossed it with the ’80s punk rock/photocopied zine aesthetic. The music is some excellent top quality content as well, moody and atmospheric. I’d say more about it, but hell, what do I know about music. I can tell you I liked it, and unless all you listen to is death metal, you’ll likely enjoy it as well. Take my word for it.

The game is very short and can be completed in less than fifteen minutes, but that’s a good thing, seeing as it’s a free game, and you really wouldn’t want to be playing eight hours of this. Trust me, it’s very pretty and educational and all that, but it’s really meant to get its message across in a quick, clean, and very artistic manner. All of which it pulls off in spades. You can play The Cat and the Coup through Steam. Or if you don’t play videogames on computers and own a Mac instead, you can download that version from the site below.

Check out The Cat and the Coup. It’s good! And short!

One Response to “Review: The Cat and the Coup (PC)”
  1. “Leave it to a cat to grrom itself while its master lies dead next to it.” No surprise, those jerks would do just that lol!

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