Years ago, cats and dragons fought a bloody war, but ultimately, the destined cats known as Dragonblood claimed victory. Now, the dragons have returned, and it’s up to you, a destined kitty, to take up your sword and protect the land once again.
I love RPGs. I also love cats. With that in mind, it was inevitable that I would eventually turn my attention to Cat Quest, an open world RPG set in a land entirely populated by cute kitties. Yes, I had recently been burned by Spacecats With Lasers, but the Cat Quest demo convinced me that my money really would be well spent this time around.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life playing RPGs. Some of them have been amazing, and others have been tedious. Some have been simplistic, and others have been intricately menu-tastic. But the one thing that was always difficult to find was a simple, stripped down RPG that was actually fun, and not a chore. Fortunately, Cat Quest slips right into this niche.
As far as gameplay goes, Cat Quest is pretty straightforward. There’s an open world to explore, with short dungeons of varying difficulty. The main quest involves defeating a handful of dragons and then facing off against the final boss, but the game is bulked out by numerous side quests. The quests are of the simple “defeat this enemy, fetch this item” type, but completing them is addictive rather than tedious. For each quest, the game always tells you exactly where to go and what to do – whilst this might sound like a bit too much hand-holding for the veteran RPG player, I actually found it refreshing. No more wandering for hours round the Forest of Silence trying to locate ten rare Pure Waters. No running in circles trying to trigger a random encounter with those Metal Slimes you need to defeat. Quests are swift, and the endorphin reward for completing them is prompt, ensuring that you’ll always want to find time for ‘just one more’.
Combat takes place in real time, with various weapons and magic spells made available as you progress through the game. Since I usually favour approaching such games as a melee fighter, I went for a mage build for this game, and had great fun inflicting damage from afar with my magical attacks. The one weakness of the mage build is that you must replenish mana through melee attacks, forcing you to get up close and personal with enemies you were trying to stay away from. Initially, I found this decision a little odd, but in retrospect, it really helps with the difficulty balance – the game would be far too easy if you weren’t forced to get in close and learn how to dodge enemy attacks.
It’s also worth noting that, throughout the main game, there was never a time when I felt like I had to grind. The quests available to me were always such that I had something available at around my level, meaning I could level up whilst tackling something new, instead of having to repeat old dungeons. It was only when I set myself the task of tackling the highest level dungeons, and also picking up the trophy for reaching level 99, that I actively had to go and grind. Even then, with a high level dungeon and some levelled up spells to hand, it didn’t really take that long.
I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but Cat Quest’s core gameplay is so much fun that the feline elements are almost incidental – the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself. The world takes place in a cute, cartoony world – a design choice made by the developers so that the game would feel at home on any console. The entire world of the game is filled with cat puns – imagine locations such as the “Bermewda Triangle”, “West Pawt” and “The Catpital”. There’s even a feline version of the Dread Lord, Cathulhu.
Fun as the game is, there are a couple of ways in which it could be even better. First off, the quest board in each town only has a specific set of quests, which means you have to wander from town to town to find any you’ve missed, instead of being able to check on all the available quests from a single location. To make matters worse, even though you can zoom out on the map to check your general location, you can’t scroll the map, so if your destination is not visible, you just have to guess the right direction. There’s no fast travel, either – the best you get is the ability to fly later in the game. Admittedly, Cat Quest’s world isn’t vast, but it’s just big enough that all the travel can sometimes feel like a chore. With numerous towns plus 52 dungeons available, you’re unlikely to memorise the exact location of them all. Another slight annoyance is that the HUD sometimes feels a bit too stripped down. You have your level and EXP in the top left, but your HP and mana are above your character’s head – making them difficult to distinguish from enemy HP when the screen gets crowded.
As someone who jumps at the chance to try every cat-based game going, I have been disappointed on many occasions. Cat Quest was not one of those disappointments. Instead, this was a fun and addictive game that kept me glued to the PS4 for the best part of a day. Whether you play it in small bursts or binge it as I did, Cat Quest is bound to bring a smile to your face.