This is a solid game for puzzle fans and pet lovers alike, without having to pay for power-ups or sit through advertisements as you would with other "freemium" Match-3-style games. Simon's Cat: Story Time isn't doing anything unique with the genre -- all of the gameplay elements have been done before -- but the story and characters (humans and pets) give it its own unique flavor. The game starts off easy enough, but begins to layer in more advanced elements, such as additional obstacles, and around level 50 things become trickier to complete. If you fail a level, you can try again, use up some virtual coins to continue on, or take a break from the game and play through some story elements. Unlike most games, the story progresses at your own pace. You can spend 20 stars in a row to plow through the story chapters, or alternate between a game board and a new chapter in the book. It's entirely up to you, instead of being forced to read through the story. In fact, you can bypass the story altogether, but again, this is likely the reason why someone would download this title (especially fans of the Simon's Cat world).
During the story elements, you'll be asked to make decisions here and there, such as deciding how to decorate your backyard. In fact, you can always change your mind and go back to completely revamp a garden. Options are usually basic, ornate, and wacky -- so you can infuse your own personality in there, if you like. The animation is cute and quirky, just like the web cartoon, including bulgy-eyed birds, fish swimming in the water fountain, and of course, seeing the animated neighbors and their pets (including cats that don't like each other!). The jazzy music soundtrack is whimsical. What Simon's Cat: Story Time lacks in originality it makes up for in personality, story, and presentation style. If you already pay the $4.99/month for Apple Arcade and enjoy puzzle games, download this title, which should dish up several hours of fun.