Fighting dragons, saving your sister, exploring a vast open world – these all sound familiar to gamers, right? Ok, well, imagine doing all of that as a cat. That’s the premise behind Cat Quest, the new action RPG from developers The Gentlebros, where you go on an epic adventure as a little feline as you look to save the world from an evil threat.
Cat Quest puts you into the shoes… – I mean, *paws* – of a feline adventurer whose sister gets kidnapped by the evil Drakoth whilst at sea. The only way to rescue her is by journeying across the land of Felingard and taking down Drakoth’s evil minions, which unfortunately for you happen to be Dragons. Whilst this might seem like an imposing task to an ordinary cat, you’re actually a ‘Dragonblood’ – a special feline that has the ability to conquer Dragons. Thus begins your adventure to not only save your sister, but also rid Felingard from the evil threat of Drakoth and his Dragons once and for all.
One unique aspect of Cat Quest is that the majority of the game takes place in a vibrant overworld akin to those found in classic RPGs. I’ve actually missed their presence for a long time in modern RPGs, so getting to adventure across one again actually felt quite nostalgic. It could eliminate the personality that comes with some locations though, with most towns simply consisting of a few buildings placed tightly together that you couldn’t really explore or interact with. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of different towns to visit, but when they all simply consisted of a couple of tiles on a giant map it was difficult to be in awe of them.
It didn’t really take anything away from the gameplay though, with Cat Quest’s world full of these simple locations to venture across. It’s a proper journey between them all too, with the pathway often filled with monsters that you’ll have to vanquish along the way. Felingard is completely open to you from the get go, meaning you can explore every inch of the land almost immediately. Whilst it’s tempting, I wouldn’t really recommend it; a lot of the land is full of vicious monsters, so if you’re under-leveled you’ll quickly meet your demise. It’s something I discovered when ignoring the warning signs and heading into a deadly forest early on…
Whilst the aforementioned towns are simple in design, they do give you the opportunity to recover your health, save game, and take on special side quests. Cat Quest offers an abundance of side quests for you to complete, some of which actually go into a lot of depth and give you a whole little side story to see through to its end. Whilst sometimes it’s something as simple as defeating an enemy, finding a missing wizard, or breaking a curse, you’ll also come across cannibalistic cats as well as accidentally summoning an evil demon – seriously, the variety of adventures you end up on is impressive. Whilst the quests themselves typically translate to a simple gameplay experience, the story and writing behind them is always superb.
Some of the quests you head out on will take you to dungeons that work outside of the world map, though these are incredibly simple in design. It’s usually a series of basic pathways that are surrounded by simplistic vistas. Whilst it’s nice to have somewhere a little different to explore other than the world map, there isn’t a whole lot of variety to them both aesthetically and in actual design.
As you can imagine with a name like Cat Quest, the game is full to the brim with humour (and an abundance of cat puns – seriously, it’s paw-some how many of them the developers have come up with). It’s also got a ton of references to other popular media; I mean, it’s hard not to acknowledge the references to Skyrim in the main plot, but there are plenty of nods to other video games and TV shows along the way too.
Outside of exploring the world, the bulk of your time in Cat Quest will be spent in combat against the countless monsters that are wandering about. Given the game’s action RPG style, there’s a good mixture of both quick paced melee and magic-based combat. There’s a big emphasis on mixing them both up though, with your mana only re-filling when you hit the enemy with physical attacks. It encourages you to vary up how you play the game, with a good balance required if you’re going to conquer some of the tougher foes.
There’s also a big emphasis on your defensive capabilities, with your feline hero quick and nimble when it comes to avoiding enemy attacks. Whenever an enemy is preparing an attack, a red circle begins to form beneath them to show they’re about to strike. When the red circle completely fills up they’ll unleash an attack that will hurt anything within the circle – simple. It’s up to you to get out of that circle in time, though thankfully you have a quick dodge move that should be able to get you out of most tricky situations. It does vary up a lot between enemies though, with some of them able to unleash moves that cover larger areas or that even go across different directions, ensuring you’ve always got to be ready to quickly move when they’re about to hit – something that can prove incredibly tough when up against a big group of enemies…
The simplicity of the game’s combat mechanics are incredibly effective. Whilst other RPGs offer more thorough systems that have a lot more depth, the accessible nature of Cat Quest made it incredibly easy to get into almost immediately. Fights are never drawn out tactical affairs, but rather quick showdowns that often depend more on your reaction speeds than how strategic you are. It might not offer enough for hardcore RPG fans, but those after a more laid back experience will feel right at home.
The only real downside is that it can make the game feel incredibly repetitive, with the combat and questing mechanics never changing too much throughout the entirety of your adventure. The whole thing typically boils down to getting from point A to B and killing everything along the way, with very little else in the form of gameplay taking place in between. Fortunately, Cat Quest isn’t a very long game with it easily being cleared in around six hours, so it’s over before the simple repetitive nature begins to really bring you down.
You can keep your little hero well equipped during your journey by using the countless armour and weaponry that is scattered across the world, with each item affecting your stats in different ways – swords will give you more attack power for example, whilst staffs will give your magic a boost. In another simple yet effective design choice, rather than upgrading your gear it gets improved when you find duplicate items. Want to upgrade your sword? Find one in a dungeon, or alternatively buy one from the blacksmith. Need to get that armour upgraded? Same process. It’s another simple yet effective design choice that ensures you’re always equipped with your best gear without clogging up your inventory – it completely streamlines the process, making sure players spend less time potching with their gear and more time playing the game.
Whilst all the gear in Cat Quest has a unique look, they don’t change how the game plays. Everything feels the same regardless of what weapon or armour you have equipped, with the entirety of the game running from the same animations. It means there’s no big difference to what weapon your using, with swords, axes, staffs, and the rest all feeling exactly the same. It’s not too big of a deal, but it could make equipment changes feel more cosmetic than anything else. Again though, it plays well to the simple nature of the game.
Whilst Cat Quest doesn’t offer an in depth RPG experience that smashes through the boundaries of game design, it doesn’t stop it offering a thoroughly entertaining adventure to embark on. It prides itself on its simplicity with almost all aspects of the game having an easily accessible feel, yet it is thanks to this approach that the game feels so satisfying to play and easy to find yourself hooked into. Add to that the charming game world and it’s hard not to find yourself absorbed into this tale of felines and Dragons.
It’s over fairly quickly and doesn’t do anything that’ll blow you away, but overall Cat Quest offers a charming little adventure that even the most hardcore of RPG purrr-ists will be able to enjoy.
Developer: The Gentlebros
Release Date: 08/08/2017 (PC, Mac) TBC (Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch)
Format(s): PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Mac