Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: Cat Quest


Sometimes games show up that are a pleasant surprise and despite being a dog-lover through and through Cat Quest has still managed to charm me. While it may be a port of a game also available on mobile it generally feels like the right kind, with a clean and colorful look, tight controls, and a reasonable length as well. Throw in a load of pretty silly/bad cat puns, some inevitable grinding in a few places to go up in levels, and a randomized loot system of sorts and it makes for a pretty nice package.


What’s great about the game, first and foremost, is that it manages to be both light and challenging, ultimately leaving it up to you how much you want to grind to progress. As you adventure you’ll encounter caves and dungeons that will be very clearly marked for what level they are. If you’re feeling a bit daring or suicidal you’re free to try taking on higher level dungeons, and if they’re within maybe 5 levels this can work out, but I love that spots for the daring are peppered all around the map rather than it being a heavily gated and controlled progression. You can absolutely level up more quickly in the game if you have the patience and skill to roll in, get in some hits, blast a spell, and then get out and repeat. As I said, there’s a limit to how much higher a level you’ll be able to take but I like that the game allows the ambitious folks like me to accelerate the process.

Of course none of this would work if the controls weren’t both tight and relatively simple. You have a button for an evasive roll, a button to attack, and you can map up to 4 different spells to your shoulder buttons. With this foundation combat is quick, relatively simple, and for the most part success or failure rests on your shoulders alone. Since physical attacks restore mana aggression is rewarded and once you get your spell for restoring health there’s a means for keeping yourself in the battle longer as long as you keep getting up close to get in your hits… no spamming magic at the fringes to wear monsters out here! In order to help you’ll pick up a variety of gear along the way that will affect your attributes. Want to mostly do damage with your magic? Need a little extra health? While the gear isn’t transformative it is at least not just cosmetic and will make a difference. Rather than finding new gear constantly the way it works in Cat Quest I also thought was fine, if you are awarded a piece of gear you already have it simply levels up that gear and makes it more effective. This eliminates the need for extra interfaces and vendors. Instead, you’ll be able to go to a shop and essentially “roll” by buying a crate you’d open just as if you were in a dungeon, a nice and quick way to handle this need but it does make the gear you have and get in the game very random.


Getting into issues I could see the way gear is handled being frustrating to some, either because they end up having gear that is better geared towards a style of play they don’t prefer (they like magic but their better gear nerfs it in favor of physical attack) or because the stats on gear make them choose a style they don’t aesthetically prefer. Of course, this is pretty minor but some people enjoy dressing their character so some provision for perhaps paying to shift the aesthetic look of their most powerful gear would have been a nice touch. Another issue is that some degree of grinding ends up being inevitable, you won’t be able to progress through the game without taking up the majority of side quests you encounter and you’ll probably want to hit some caves and dungeons on a regular basis as well to either raise your level or get new gear to help raise your survivability. For it being so light that isn’t to say the game can’t be difficult. Just be sure to save often and try to take on challenges a few levels higher than you are to make it go more quickly.

Overall I really have enjoyed my time with Cat Quest and am impressed that the humor and theming is simply icing on the cake and not a replacement for solid gameplay. While it isn’t a hardcore game by any means I think its light action is pretty compelling and very well-suited to the portability of the Switch. If you’re in search of a very light action RPG that has a plentiful amount of charm Cat Quest is quite satisfying.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Purr-fectly suited to handheld play on the Switch
  • The way things are set up you can play it either slow and easy or intense and challenging
  • The controls are tight and fights progressively require more and more technique as enemy attack patterns get more complicated
Cons:
  • Some may find the gear and RPG elements to be too light
  • There will be grinding
  • At some level, common with most action RPGs, the action is repetitive


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