Only a few months after releasing The World Next Door, Rose City Games’ first game made in partnership with VIZ Media, the Portland-based studio is already gearing up for their second title with VIZ: Cat Lady. A top-down roguelike featured on Game Informer’s list of best indies from E3 2019, the game follows the supernatural adventures of a young girl, Ally Marie. She teams up with a plethora of skilled cats to face the ghosts that have overtaken her grandmother’s home.
Cat Lady’s ghostly plot, cast of cats and a young girl, its stylized and cute aesthetic, and its minimal use of color make it reminiscent of Kazuno Kohara’s picture book Ghosts in the House! and its three-color linocut art. Additionally, with the ability to collect a variety of adorable cats that have different powers, there’s a Pokémon-like element too.
Cliqist: Could you talk more about how Cat Lady originated? What was it like having it come from the same game jam that produced The World Next Door?
Corey Warning: That internal game jam we did a few summers ago produced some real gems. Cat Lady was a strong #2 when we had it up against The World Next Door pitch, and we talked about it frequently with our publisher, VIZ, after the jam. We pitched a few games to them during GDC 2018, and Cat Lady was the first of three we presented. We walked out of that meeting feeling like we didn’t even need to talk about the other games because everyone was so excited about the ideas for Cat Lady.
According to Game Informer, Cat Lady is inspired by The Binding of Isaac. How did that game inspire your new one? Does Cat Lady have other influences?
We’ve been playing a lot of rogue-lite games since Cat Lady was greenlit. Wizard of Legend, Nuclear Throne, and Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon to name a few. We’re inspired by how tight the gameplay feels in those games, and we’re confident that fans of those titles will enjoy Cat Lady—however, it’s important to us for our game to be unique from other dungeon crawlers. I think the cuteness of the art style and soundtrack really set it apart, and we’ve surprised early playtesters with how fun it is to toss cats at ghosts!
The limited color palette shown so far looks charming and striking. What led to the decision for a more minimalist color scheme?
Our lead artist, Jake Fleming, loved the limited color palette of classic NES and Gameboy games growing up. We feel that the straightforward color schemes help sell the cuteness of the characters and enemies.
I was a big fan before we hooked up. Jim and I met at the XOXO festival in Portland back in 2013. We stayed in touch over a lot of random collaborations, like helping lay out art for a Sword & Sworcery LP reprint, and merging his Facebook pages to get his followers in one place. We worked together on another game project a few years back and really enjoyed collaborating. I absolutely love the work he and JJ did for Reigns: Her Majesty, and reached out to see if they’d be up for doing something a little different than they’ve done in the past. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the full soundtrack for this game; it’s really something special.
Cat Lady and The World Next Door look like very different games. What was it like working on the two projects? Was there overlap between the two productions or did you keep them separate?
We try to always have at least two projects going at the same time, so Cat Lady started pre-production just as The World Next Door was approaching its Beta milestone. My co-founder, Will Lewis, was leading Cat Lady while I finished up with The World Next Door. Almost everyone on the new project had a hand in some part of TWND, so moving into Cat Lady was really smooth—everyone was used to working together so we could just hit the ground running.
Will Cat Lady have some form of a comic spin-off like The World Next Door did?
I hope so! Working on TWND comic with VIZ was a blast. We love trying out new things, and if there’s an opportunity for some sort of trans-media crossover, I’m sure we’ll jump on it.
Thanks for your time, and good luck with the new game.