Review: Cat Quest II
Those of you who have been with us for a while may remember a review a couple years back about a charming little kitty cat RPG. Well, developer The Gentlebros is back at it again with Cat Quest II, out on just about everything (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and iOS) on September 24th, 2019
Cat Quest II follows in the footsteps of its predecessor as another isometric hack-and-slash adventure/RPG through an absolutely adorable world. It’s very much a simple game, and short by RPG standards at about 9 hours, but it does well with what it has.
Cats and Dogs, Living Together
So, disclaimer: I didn’t play the previous Cat Quest before doing this review. So I can say with full confidence that if you’re just jumping into this entry, you will not be lost. Sure, there’s elements I knew were references to the first game, such as Drakoth and Felingard, but the plot is very much self-contained.
The cat and dog kingdoms have been at war for years, and you are the reincarnation of the feline and canine leaders from back when the kingdoms knew peace. Yes, I said plural, as you control a pair of heroes this time around – a cat and a dog. Likewise as you explore the world you’ll see how members of both kingdoms feel about the on-going war, and the other species in general, with how they treat your opposing party member.
The writing is fairly simple, but more in a “kids can play this without being overwhelmed,” rather than in a disparaging or bad, way. It even manages to pull of a decent plot twist or two… though I do feel there were a few too many sidequest chains where the first quest giver turned out to be a bad guy after we accidentally made things worse.
Speaking of excess, the writing does have a pun problem. Now, I like puns as much as the next person, but there is some care that needs to be taken. So, a little primer on furry puns: There’s two ways to go about them, you either replace a human phrase with animal elements like “No fur off my back” or “on the other paw,” or you use rhymes and homophones like saying something is im-paw-sible or incredulously asking if someone is “fur” real. Most of the puns in Cat Quest II are proper puns, and some like finding Cathulhu in the Pawcific Ocean got a legitimate chuckle out of me. Then there’s the ones that are a real stretch. An example of the latter can be found as early as their website, mentioning that the game is “Pawing Soon.” That’s not a pun, you just replaced part of a word with something that’s not even close. There were a few too many times in-game where I had to stop and look over a sentence a few times to try and parse what word would normally go there. I get that animal puns are kinda this game’s thing… but I hope we see less of the really forced ones in Cat Quest III.
Combat has seen a few changes from the first game, little tweaks here and there, but largely remains the same. It’s a simple and satisfying loop of striking enemies to build up MP to spend on potent spells. I wound up playing the majority of the game in a single sitting, only breaking because the sun was rising and I realized I had just spent the whole night on this.
I am not going to claim it’s perfect, there’s a number of balance issues where the game gives me choices where it’s obvious one is superior than all the others (e.g., take a drop in the bucket of bonus HP, or some defense bonus which effectively multiplies my massive HP pool), but this isn’t a big deal. It’s a solo game where children are likely part of the target audience. Moreover, outside of a few bonus “endgame” dungeons there really isn’t a lot of min-maxing required.
I did also enjoy the way co-op was handled. Whether you’re actually playing co-op or solo, your partner is always there and even plot-relevant. It’s a pleasant change of pace from most other local co-op story driven games I’ve played where player 2 is either completely irrelevant, or occasionally removed from the party or replaced with a different character at times. I wish my partner made better use of their spells however: They’re quite often sitting at full MP, and often missed with aimed spells. Still, at least they’re not an active detriment.
This is perhaps an extremely individual anecdote, but I feel an odd sort of nostalgia for these graphics. They feel like so many free flash games I played back in the early internet days of the late 90s. It has this adorable, semi-chibi, shiny aesthetic all throughout it that feels pleasantly familiar.
The music is nice in a completely background sort of way. There’s not a lot of variety, but I didn’t find myself growing tired of any of the… roughly six themes the game has by the time I had finished. Just an overall nice and cozy experience.
Cat Quest II is relatively short, but I’d argue it’s as long as it needs to be. I didn’t feel a need to break from the adventure solely for the sake of grinding, and I finished before I grew bored of the simple gameplay loop. It’s fun, but it doesn’t have a lot of replay value to it either. The fun, for me at least, was in exploring all the various locales and finding new spells and equipment.
Review copy provided by PQube for PC. Screenshots taken by reviewer.