Cat Quest is exactly what you are expecting: an action RPG that leans heavily on cat puns while staring at you, quietly judging. It may well lean on them a little too heavily, but the game part of this unholy communion of internet memes and action RPGs is actually quite fun, if a little simplistic.
Primarily taking place on its overworld map, Cat Quest has you wandering around the pretty large world of Felingard as you attempt to rescue your sister and foil the plans of the mysterious, dark sorcerer Drakoth. Thankfully, you have a couple of advantages: a Navi-from-Zelda-like cat fairy to advise you throughout the game and the fact that you are a Dragonblood, a supposedly extinct breed of cat that is capable of killing dragons. After some mildly obnoxious chatting with Drakoth in which he teleports a few meters away between lines of dialogue, then summons some dragons, you’ll find yourself with all of Felingard available to you and some dragons to defeat.
Leveling and loot is the name of the game, though both work a little differently to how you might expect. You gain experience from collecting XP orbs which are, in addition to being dropped by enemies, used to mark out routes through dungeons. The route is always self explanatory though, so the orbs just make exploration a little bit dull. Sure you can collect the coins in any order, but you’ll either have to backtrack to pick them up, making the dungeon take longer, or you will just miss out on some experience.
Picking up loot as you go, if you already have the same item in your inventory, it will simply be replaced and its stats upgraded. There’s no way to sell or otherwise remove loot, so you quickly end up with a cluttered inventory. The upshot of this is that if you get stuck on a particular enemy, you will be able to whip something out that’s more useful, adapting to your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.
Combat, much like the game’s other systems, is fun, but simple. Enemies telegraph their attacks with hit areas appearing around them that slowly fill, dealing damage once full. You will be dodging in and out of these clearly signposted attacks, swinging your weapon and casting spells. It can be a little hectic, but it is fun and wiping out a group of five enemies without taking damage is satisfying even once the rest of the game starts to grate.
You learn magic spells by finding arcane temples that are littered across the map. Each one sells a unique spell and lets you upgrade the ones you already have. Most of them are spells that you have encountered while fighting enemies, such as an ice spell that attacks above and below your character on the map, or Flamepurr which is unleashed in a circle around you. They often have other effects too, such as the ice attack chilling and slowing enemies, whereas the fire spell damages their armour. A spell is also the only way to heal yourself without returning to a nearby town, so they have more utility than simply damaging an enemy. Magic represents the deepest aspect of the game’s combat, but it’s still quite shallow compared to more ambitious action RPGs.
It does not help that many dungeons, each of which has a recommended level, are located in areas that are significantly lower level than the dungeons themselves. If you don’t fancy a possible, but very patient assault on a higher level dungeon with enemies featuring skulls next to their health bars, returning later will mean backtracking through areas you’ve seen before, populated with enemies that are too low of a level to be worth your time.
Cat Quest is definitely good fun for a few hours and can be quite humorous, but a lack of depth to the basic gameplay loop means it gets repetitive and it’s easy to lose interest. Once you reach that point, tolerance for cat puns wears thin and the bright, cheerful aesthetic, while nicely realised and attractive enough, isn’t enough to keep people coming back. The only thing left to look forward to is the quirky side quests, which can be written well enough but again, are based around cat puns.
Version tested: PlayStation 4