Netflix has been infatuated with gaming for a while now. For starters, the streaming service has a habit of adapting popular video games into series, with results including The Witcher and The Cuphead Show, as well as upcoming titles including Resident Evil and Bioshock.
The platform also offers an (admittedly lackluster) selection of mobile games to subscribers. But Cat Burglar, the streamer’s new interactive trivia cartoon might be it’s most successful gaming effort yet.
The interactive show comes from Charlie Brooker, who is no stranger to user-controlled content. His previous effort, Black Mirror Bandersnatch, was an interactive movie about the creation of a video game (very meta!) released by Netflix in 2018.
While the concept was novel, Bandersnatch never quite came together into a satisfying whole. Fortunately, Cat Burglar manages to avoid falling into a lot of the same pitfalls. And it's all thanks to having an easy-to-grasp core concept.
The animated show is a charming homage to classic Saturday morning cartoons (Tom and Jerry, in particular, appears to be an inspiration). It stars Rowdy Cat, a feline thief, who looks to steal a valuable painting from a museum guarded by Peanut the Security Pup. It’s a simple setup that would probably feel fairly uninspired as a standard animated episode, but the interactive elements are what really makes Cat Burglar worth your time.
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At frequent points in the heist a series of multiple choice questions will appear on screen, and you must answer them correctly in quick succession to progress. Get one wrong, and you’ll lose a life — usually in a over-the-top slapstick way. Lose three lives and Rowdy will fail in his dastardly quest and you’ll get a short game over sequence before being offered the chance to try again.
Some of the questions you must answer are standard trivia questions, for example “which of these films won Best Picture at the Oscars?" but some are bizarrely humorous such as “which of these foods pairs best with cake?” or, my personal favourite, “which of these is often seen on social media?” (we won't spoil the answer, but safe to say some will chuckle and others may blush).
An average run through of Cat Burglar should take you around 15 minutes, but there’s lots of incentive to keep playing even after you’ve seen the ending for the first time. There’s roughly 90 minutes of animation to unlock, and some of the ways Rowdy can lose a life are downright hilarious in the way that only cartoon violence can be. One sequence, in which the cat hits the city's gas line while digging under the museum, had me howling with laughter.
It’s great to see Netflix isn’t afraid to experiment with content like Cat Burglar. The platform's breadth of varied content is a big part of the reason we rank it as one of the best streaming services available. If you’re looking for something a little bit different this month give Cat Burglar a try, you might be surprised how much you enjoy playing a show rather than just passively watching. And while we're not ready to slot Cat Burglar onto our best shows on Netflix list (one episode doesn't quite make a series), it's definitely worth a spin.