Cat Quest is a game about heroic cats in a world full of jerk cats and even jerkier dragons. Playing as an unnamed orange tabby, the game opens with your sister being kidnapped by an evil white cat named Drakoth. You also discover that you paw-sess the power of the ‘Dragonblood’ and can use ancient cat magic. All of this prompts you to set out on a classic action-RPG adventure of self-discovery and violence, with a hefty dose of looting and side-questing along the way. There’s not much else to be said of what goes on in this game, as the tail really takes a back seat after this to the real meat and potatoes of the game — puns. Oh, and side quests and swords and dungeons and stuff.
Almost all of Cat Quest plays out on a single map, laid out like the overworld map of an old-school JRPG, replete with a litter of towns and dungeons and different biomes. Towns can’t be ‘entered’ as such and usually consist of nothing more than a save/rest point and a quest board for picking up odd jobs. While the primary quest line is super brief, the game creates longevity by increasing the level requirements of the main quests exponentially, making it necessary to embark on side quests and explore dungeons in order to amass experience and stronger equipment. It’s a system that works well enough as a reduction of the action-RPG genre, distilled into its purr-est essences and played out in the space of a handful of hours, but its 62 quests and 58 dungeons quickly fall prey to inane repetition. The vast majority of quests are of the ‘go here, kill all the monsters’ variety, and the dungeons are all variations on just one theme. Much of the dialogue in Cat Quest is actually quite entertaining, but I found myself with less patience to paws and absorb everything as time went on and tedium had well and truly set in.
I shall travel to the fur-thest reaches of this rich land of op-purr-tunity
Combat suf-furs a similar fate. The gimmick here is that enemies telegraph the type and range of their incoming attacks before they happen, allowing Nameless Hero Cat to get a few attacks in before rolling out of the way. To begin with, this attack-and-dodge-ballet in enemy encounters feels good and allows some room for skilled play, but again suffers from a lack of variety. Enemy types are few and repeated throughout Cat Quest, and all borrow from the same pool of only five attacks. Similarly, your character is afforded just one melee attack string in conjunction with a handful of magical abilities, leaving them feeling a tad declawed. Again, the basics of combat feel good as they come together, and it’d be a stretch to expect huge levels of complexity in what amounts to an abridged version of an RPG, but there’s a sense of purr-gression missing when the game feels largely the same in the endgame as it did in the tutorial.
Cat Quest at least looks the part with a vibrant, pop-up book feel that looks sharp. Although your nameless, wordless cat can’t be customised at all, there is a plethora of armours and swords to adorably dress them up in. Unfortunately, repetition rears its ugly head again in that much of the relatively small map looks the same and is dotted with identical-looking towns and landmarks, save for a few smaller biomes of different types at the far reaches. Dungeons, too, are all built from the same tilesets and so are nearly indistinguishable from each other both inside and out. The music doesn’t fare any better; while pleasant and competent enough, it repeats far too much and quickly becomes tiresome. A lot of these criticisms can be furr-given in a game that goes for only $15, but when it runs for a mere few hours it’s disappointing that there isn’t just a little bit more depth. There’s a lot of heart and humour to be found here, but as the game reaches a conclusion with a decent payoff, it’ll likely have you thinking “come on, once more with feline”.
Cat Quest? More like Dragon… Quest…
Strangely, Cat Quest is an enjoyable game in spite of itself. Although the constantly recycled quests, enemies, visuals and audio should be a death sentence, there’s a definite charm in this little game. Perhaps either a little more effort to produce a serious RPG, or a full tilt towards its almost-satirical nature would have made for a stronger and more focussed experience. At the end of the day, though, there are cats and puns. So that’s pretty good.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro