There comes a time when us cat lovers must ask the big question: exactly how many good cat games are out there? Yes, beloved franchises like Pokemon and Animal Crossing have featured cats, but how many fan-favorites have placed cats front and center? Not many, I imagine, as all those cat simulators out there hardly satisfy my thirst for a good ol’ virtual kitty romp. It seems the folks at The Gentlebros felt the same and responded with Cat Quest: an adorable indie RPG inspired by classics new (Skyrim) and old (Final Fantasy).
Originally released on PC/Mobile this past August and just now coming to Nintendo Switch, a silent kitty’s search for his catnapped sister brings him to a world of swords and sorcery populated by cats of all kinds, be they your sprite companion Spurry, Kit the weapon forger, and even a king down with youth lingo. All have fallen prey to various calamities, and so it’s up to you to traverse an isometric world slaying dragons and catty bandits.
What sells Cat Quest is its pick-up-and-play accessibility. Much of its features — be they battles, dialogue and dungeon-crawling — are snappy, to-the-point affairs: battles are brisk scuffles, dungeons take maybe all of two minutes, and the tongue-in-cheek dialogue is never intrusive. It’s perfectly suited for quick play sessions when you’re short on time, yet the content involved can keep players busy for several hours. In particular, battles are deceptively simple: they’re quick-thinking brawls that’ll require quick dodging, telegraphed reads, and careful utilization of magic. Grinding is hardly a problem: thanks to the speedy battles and the abundant EXP from quests, you’ll never be outmatched for long, and addiction is easy to settle in.
Customization is also a potentially deep experience, as every piece of equipment comes with their unique risks and rewards; for example, an Arcane staff will certainly boost your magic, but your physical attack power will take a definite hit. Meanwhile, only four spells can be equipped at a time, so you’ll have to decide whether the spiky Cattrap is worth keeping. Armor is also subject to strengths and weaknesses, although that shouldn’t be a problem for us cat lovers: decorating our cats in cute clothing is an irresistible pastime of ours, after all, and I couldn’t help but have my own kitty adorned in his little ranger hood for a good while. Of course, his defense was left rather lacking, yet intentional handicaps are but one of the many options players can initiate. (Speaking of appearances, I can’t help but notice Spurry looks a little too similar to a certain Nintendo puffball)
Aside from the constant chatter of your sprite companion Spurry, story is hardly the focus of Cat Quest. True to the spirit of Skyrim, you’ll be dividing time between the main adventure and whatever quests the townskitties have to offer. Being a budget indie title, there’s nothing particularly epic, so Cat Quest supplies charm upon charm with its adorable presentation. Naturally, all the kitties speak in cat puns, engage in shenanigans involving food and catnip, and marvel in you walking on water as “Cat Jesus”. Barring some twists near the end, Cat Quest never fails to remember it’s primarily a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek affair.
It does make some missteps along the way — Cat Quest is host to a rather sprawling overworld, and I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t an accompanying referral map. There is an overview button that scans the surrounding area, but it’s easy to lose track of where you are (although thankfully the same doesn’t apply to quests: there’s always an arrow pointing to your next destination, and they often utilize marked trails). Compounding upon this is the lack of a fast travel option, meaning you’re expected to walk everywhere. While hardly a dealbreaker considering the later movement options, it can be something of a pain.
I should also mention Cat Quest is not a particularly long adventure. Again, budget title and all, so I knew what I was getting into, but I must share that the final battle/ending is rather anti-climatic. The game treats it as the ending of yet another quest, and simply goes on as if you hadn’t just stopped the terrible evil threatening the land. It bears repeating it’s not a particularly meaty story, and there is an extensive post-game to keep players busy, but it does have the unfortunate effect of showcasing the game’s budget identity.
Still, you could do much worse for 13 bucks. At its heart, it’s a charming, addictive adventure I still feel calling back to me; after all, who else is gonna slay Cathulu? While hardly purrfect, Cat Quest is a solid little title offering a meowin’ good time.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, Mobile; Publisher: Pqube; Developer: The Gentlebros; Players: 1 ; Released: Nov 10, 2017; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: $12.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Cat Quest.