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October 2018

Cat Quest

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: PQube
Developer: The Gentlebros
Release Date: Nov. 10, 2017

About Andreas Salmen

I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding.


Switch Review - 'Cat Quest'

by Andreas Salmen on March 19, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Cat Quest is a 2D action-RPG featuring real-time combat set in the vast open-world of Felingard.

Buy Cat Quest

The Nintendo Switch is slowly but surely getting flooded with new releases, especially indie games. Due to its portable nature and touch-screen, the system has also received numerous ports of titles that originated on iOS, which is almost universally frowned upon by gamers. Even though it was also released on the PC and PS4, Cat Quest clearly had its design origins on the smartphone. However, Cat Quest shows that isn't necessarily a bad sign, as it's a packed, albeit simplified, RPG experience that's best enjoyed in short bursts.

Cat Quest's cartoonish visuals and cat-heavy concept make it easy to dismiss as a title intended for kids, especially when gaming on a Nintendo console. If you give it a chance, Cat Quest is actually a well-designed experience.

We control our feline protagonist on a boat when our sister is kidnapped by a Drakoth, an evil cat in fierce armor. Before we drown, a small spirit comes to our aid to guide us ashore, where we must find and rescue our sister while slaying Drakoth and his dragon followers. It sounds very similar to the Skyrim narrative. Once on the shores of Felingard, we discover a strange mark on our head, which means we're gifted with dragon blood and have to defeat at least three dragons before we can take down our adversary.

The story is not fully fleshed out, but it's charming and full of pop-culture references with a feline twist. Cat Quest manages to make every other word a cat-related pun without getting being annoying, which is an achievement in and of itself. There is a lot to love here, and the game throws us an occasional curveball with ridiculous scenarios that generate numerous side-quests.

After arriving in Felingard, we gain almost immediate control over our cat hero and get to work. Felingard is a reasonably big world to explore, with a main landmass and a few different islands to explore. Similar to most JRPGs, Cat Quest uses an overworld map and displays landmarks as 3-D objects popping out of the otherwise purely 2-D plane. Unlike more complex RPGs, the overworld map is pretty much all there is. We traverse and play the game entirely on this map, with the exception of dungeons, which place us in smaller, self-contained areas. Otherwise, what you see is what you get, and while it may be weird to have everything happening on the coarsely structured world map, it does come together nicely.

For example, towns usually consist of a few houses, and we can't interact with most of them. Every township is confined to two interaction points: the tavern to save the game and the notice board to accept quests. Other than the tavern and dungeons, there are shops to buy and update magic spells or armor and weapons. Beyond that, there isn't much to do except for slaying monsters.

The game immediately introduces us to the mechanics. We have an attack button and a dodge button, which is all we need for combat. This is one of the areas where the mobile design concept shows, but simplicity doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad or lackluster. Combat runs in real time, and enemies attack us on sight. Their attacks and their areas of effect are always foreshadowed by a red ring, so we're able to dodge and counter-attack. We can also learn up to six magic spells to modify combat, four of which we can assign to the shoulder buttons for easy access.

All spells have their distinct advantages, such as fire, which inflicts damage over time and weakens the enemy, or ice, which slows them down. While we can always replenish all our health and mana while saving at the inn, we can also recharge our mana bar for magic spells by attacking enemies with regular combat. This eliminates the need for items, which are completely absent. There are occasional quest items, but they're handled by the game, so there's no need to organize and juggle potions during combat. Although it's simple, the game can still be challenging. Cat Quest scales well, and if you're seeking a challenge, you can certainly find one in the world of Felingard.

Cat Quest has a huge number of quests to complete. There is the main questline, which steers us to the next objective to advance the story and rescue our sister. The game emphasizes its leveling system and tells us what level we should be at to start a quest. It's ultimately our choice, but if we take on a quest that's beyond our abilities, we make it harder on ourselves. On the flip side, taking on higher-ranked quests will speed up our leveling progress. There are rarely one-off quests, and even side-quests chain together to tell a story and ramp up the difficulty over time. It works well and is engaging.

This is where the game drags a bit. Leveling up is as addictive as it is anywhere else, but the simple game structure can make this part a repetitive grind. We either need to deliver or collect items, or we need to kill all monsters in sight. That sums up the game, and it's one of the reasons why Cat Quest is best when played in short bursts. It keeps the gameplay from getting repetitive too quickly. It's perfectly designed for a quick quest here and there, but it's certainly not intended for hours of prolonged play.

Much like other RPGs, loot has a vital role in Cat Quest. We can acquire new gear in several ways, either by opening chests in dungeons and at the blacksmith (loot is always randomized) or as a reward for fulfilling quests. There's armor and weapons to collect that affect our armor, attack, health and mana stats. Just like our small furry protagonist, gear can level up as well, but the approach is a little different. Due to the randomized nature of loot, our gear always level up when we receive a duplicate piece of armor, so looting is always a good idea, even if we're fully stocked.

Cat Quest looks beautiful, even though it opts for a simple presentation style. Visuals are clean, sharp, and ooze with charm everywhere, both docked and undocked. It's also incredibly well designed, and it plays like a well thought-out concept. Simplicity also means repetitiveness, especially in level and enemy design, which isn't a disaster but underlines the game's casual aspect.

Cat Quest has also received a content update, which added a festive questline and a New Game Plus and Mew Game option. New Game Plus lets you restart the game with your gear and level intact, while Mew Game does the same but offers a few modifiers to change the game experience, such as locking your level at 1, having nine lives or disabling armor. A normal playthrough of the story and several side-quests took us about five hours, but if you want to see it all and revisit the additional game modes, there's certainly a lot of fun to be had with Cat Quest, especially at its sub $12.99 price point.

Cat Quest offers cute visuals, solid RPG action, and an overall charming feline adventure, and it's best enjoyed in bursts to avoid the otherwise repetitive quest structure.

Score: 7.8/10

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