Title: Cat Quest
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: The Gentlebros
Platform(s): PC, Android, PS4, Switch (reviewed)
Release: 11/10/2017 (Switch)
Cat Quest is the game I didn't know I needed. This clever, yet unassuming title swept me away from the stress of work and the holidays into a brightly colored, low-key adventure that was exactly the kind of escapism the doctor ordered. Plus it's got cat puns apawlenty, and who doesn't love that? No one, that's who.
The kitty kingdom of Felingard has a long, dark history full of dragons, magic, and war. You enter the game as a cat who has just discovered that he's a Dragonblood (a cat who can wield magic). It's good timing, too, because an evil sorcerer has catnapped your sister.
But not so fast! Before you can rescue her, you need to level up. A lot. Fortunately Felingard is stuffed to the brim with kitties needing side quest-type aid. Fetch their items, rescue their lost loved ones, hunt down their treasures, and soon you'll be strong enough to defeat that sorcerer and save your sister.
The Tip & The Top
Cat Quest reminds me more than just a little of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. From moving chibi characters across an overworld map to the fantastic music to your spirit guide, Spirry, there is a very strong Ni No Kuni vibe here, but that's not a bad thing at all. Au contraire, if one is going to mimic a game, Cat Quest picked a fine role model indeed.
The gameplay is a good ol' button-mashing affair. By using a combination of sword and spells (you can map up to four on your L/R buttons), players must explore caves and defeat monsters to gain XP while gradually uncovering the history of Felingard and the Dragonbloods. The difficulty leans towards the easy side, but again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on whether you're looking for something low-pressure or you're looking for Bloodborne.
There are tons of fun touches and Easter eggs in this game. When you pick up gold coins, they make a very satisfying clink. I love how cat puns purrvade the entire game, including the place names (such as the Pawcific Ocean) and how the characters swear ("Godcatit!"). There's even a section of the map that says you can't go any further unless Cat Quest becomes popular enough. I guess it worked because in May, the Gentlebros announced a sequel (Cat Quest II: The Lupus Empire).
The Flip & The Flop
It's a bit nit-picky, but my Cat Quest experience would've been much improved with the inclusion of a traditional world map. By using the R joystick, players can zoom out for a wide view of their immediate area, but there is no way to view the world map as a whole. This irritated me more than once while I was searching for specific locations or while trying to find caves I hadn't yet explored.
My other main concern *was* the game's overall length. I more or less got 100% completion within a few hours (I haven't confirmed 100%; I simply can't find anything else to do). However, upon beating the game, players are given a "Mew Game" option on the main menu. This allows you to begin a new game with optional "Meow-difiers" to increase the difficulty, such as playing without armor or with only nine lives. These additional challenges increase the game's replayability exponentially while also addressing the concerns of those who find it to be too easy.
Final Grade: A
If you want a serious game with a killer difficulty level, look elsewhere. But if you want charming, low-key, button-mashing fun, Cat Quest is the game for you.