New York Rat Simulator is still in Early Access, so you’ll be forgiven if you just turned on the game, played for a few minutes, and wondered out loud “Is that it?” There’s not much to do except run around the equivalent of one square mile of town and collect floating pizza slices – except you’re a mouse of course.
And while the small team at Firebug Games hopes to release a full version of New York Rat Simulator with a larger map, more collectibles, and an eldritch Rat King Overord, its current state is less than a full game and more than expertise. This experience is what you make of it, and quite frankly, I found it funny.
year of the rat
New York Rat Simulator has no frills or fluff – at its core, it’s a simplistic, unpolished game across a very small section of New York City. If I wanted to tell you that there are platforming elements, I’d be exaggerating, as I didn’t find any while playing it (although the gifs play Steam page for New York Rat Simulator (Opens in a new tab) Some platforms display what appears to be an older version of the game). You are a mouse and the life of a rat is very simple.
New York Rat Simulator begins with a rat standing in the streets of New York City, while the snow is gently falling around. You are that mouse, and you can maneuver it along the streets with your WASD keys and mouse, and do a funny pangolin-style jump as you curl into a tiny ball and shoot through the air with your space bar.
I start laughing as soon as I make the seemingly lifelike mouse move a few steps forward, but I let out Rodentia’s stupor by the aggressive honking of the car horn. Ah, New York City, baby. Floating pizza slices appear scattered on city streets, and after I’ve collected over a dozen of them, I unlock an ability called Bigify, as my mice grow in size and speed with every bite.
Before long, I became a human mouse the size of a child, playing on people with reckless abandon. After a few minutes, I was about the size of a motorcycle and could flip cars. The ragdoll physics allows me to push corpses into the street, so naturally, I’m showing a very twisted murder scene with corpses lying in the intersection and cars leaning on their sides. Then I was hit by an oncoming car, and the words “Hey, I’m walking here” appeared on the screen as the rat’s feeble body swayed on the sidewalk.
Go back. This is the life of a rat.
absurdity of the rat
New York Rat Simulator’s PS2-era graphics and ultra-simplistic gameplay harken back to a bygone era when games just like this were on Blockbuster shelves. This game is not pretentious or high-gravity – this is a camp.
And it embodies a special kind of absurdity that New Yorkers in particular are well equipped to understand. I have lived in Brooklyn for nearly seven years and the following things have happened to me regarding mice:
- A mouse ran across my feet while I was wearing sandals and I could feel his little feet on mine.
- I passed by a closed garbage bag on the sidewalk that was starting to wrinkle and ripple with the bodies of several rats chewing a hole in it to get to the good stuff… I stumbled and fell, running from it.
- I watched a mouse run into the dog park and make a mess.
- I cried over the corpse of a rat (this happens a lot).
And while I’ve never seen what’s so elusive rat pizza (Opens in a new tab), any self-respecting New Yorker would admit to having a mixture of fear and respect for rodents in our city. These lovable pests are brave and adorable, and a simulation about being a rat, eating pizza, and causing havoc is a game that truly understands the power of a rat.
New York Rat Simulator isn’t trying to be anything innovative, but it’s a fun way to spend an hour or so. And from the Steam reviews, the absurdity of everything is clearly appreciated by its player base: “This game is a great train wreck. I might be biased to see how, well, RAT, but I think the developer has his heart in the right place.” One player writes, “I am a Rat.” The giant who makes all the rules,” while another player writes more explicitly: “I’m a rat :).” At the end of the day, we can all learn a little something from our rodent friends, right?
I look forward to more updates, and hopefully I can finally “summon the dark presence of New York” that I always thought was Rudy Giuliani.
New York Rat Simulator is available on PC via Steam. It’s currently in early access and costs $2.99 / £2.09.