Cat Quest Switch Review
With many mammoth games hitting Switch as of late I was on the lookout for something a little less of a timesink. With that urge for some bite-sized gaming burning inside Cat Quest called out to me. Judging by that straightforward name alone it fit the bill perfectly, and upon playing those initial assumptions turned out to be apt. It’s hardly the most exciting game I played this year, and nothing it did truly shocked me, but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the dozen-or-so hour charming adventure it took me on.
In a world filled with RPGs boasting playtime exceeding triple digits, Cat Quest is a game much more limited in scope. It is cutesy to be sure, but has meat on it’s dainty bones, and as a result always tries to punch above its weight. Combat initially looks to be over simplified, with attacks restricted to the tap of a single button. This is the first area where Cat Quest surprises – adding complexity to a basic premise by placing greater emphasis on dodge timing. It’s simple, but it works, and most importantly it’s a mechanic that’s fun to use.
The majority of the combat here is melee based. You get in close with your mace, staff, or sword to land some blows. Don’t go too wild though, as you must keep an eye out for a signal the enemy is going to attack – a big red highlight showing the impact zone on the ground. It glows, you dodge away, then you jump back in with a flurry of strikes. Rinse, and then repeat throughout the adventure for various enemies; all with different tells. Adding another layer of complexity atop is magic use. In contrast to melee strikes magic does area of effect damage, and can be used at a long range. Once again the skill is limited to a single button press, but timing remains vital. Your mana bar refills based on melee strikes, and you only get a few uses before being forced to fight at close range to refill the bar.
The last few layers of complexity sees players outfitting their trusty heroic feline with weapons, armour, and unlocking various forms of magic as they go. All the stats you’d expect from an RPG is here. The game has depth where it counts, but is pared back enough in other areas so almost anyone can enjoy. In fact, I believe Cat Quest would be a great RPG for a proud parent to introduce their child to the genre with. It is rarely confusing, but in turn is never condescending. That combo makes it a great starting point for newcomers of any age.
A possible off-putting facet of Cat Quest may also be its greatest strength for others – it has a continual reliance on puns. If you have a well tuned mentality to accept it, then prepare to soak ’em in quick and fast. Cat Quest tries to drop a cat based joke in almost every line of text. Even during the quieter moments the puns dont stop. A quick glance at the game’s map shows locations called Felingard, Catnip Cove, and Mewtown. During a few of the non-puntastic scenes there is some cleverer humour to encounter. Resting at an inn is called a Catnap, and when you choose to rest to regain HP you dont just find a bed and sleep. Instead you just keel over outside the inn, and lie on the ground for a quick rest. You are a cat after all – so it makes sense. I chuckled.
Much like the combat, the game has a basic quest system that gates content by a recommended level requirement. You can choose to tackle harder areas should you so wish, but jumping ahead and working on a high level quest may result in a one-hit KO for your furball friend. This should never be an issue though, as there is ample opportunity to take on quests, and enter dungeons, more suitable to your current level. Another slight downside of the game is that it lacks in quest variety. Too many of the missions ask you to rush to a location and kill everything you see. I thought this may grow to annoy, but the combat remained compelling enough to keep thing fun throughout the whole adventure.
It’s worth noting that Cat Quest first released on mobile earlier this year, a platform that now unanimously has touch screen interfaces. Sadly, the touchscreen controls did not make it over to the Switch version for play in handheld mode. This is not an issue in combat – using buttons and analog sticks works perfectly for that. However, whilst navigating some of the menus, equipping armour and weapons on my lovable cat, I instinctively poked at the screen a few times wishing it would register an input. It never did. 😿
Cat Quest turned out to be a low impact game with a high emphasis on fun. It’s a great armchair zen experience that fits Switch to a tee. It’s easy to play for five minutes, an hour, or more, and always make worthwhile progress – even on busy days when time is not on your side. It’s a pun filled game that’s a purrfect fit for gaming on the move. Sure, not everyone will approve of it’s unapawlogetic feline-centric wordplay, and upbeat pawsitive nature, but others may just find the humour to be cat-hartic – especially whilst compared to the self serious attitude seen in other modern RPGs. If dog is your pet of choice there is however no hope for you. Sorry.