It has been a very animal-centric week for me, starting with the diabolical reign of a devilish goose as he terrorized his neighborhood. Following Untitled Goose Game, I decided to divert my interest to the kinder, fluffier, cuddlier side of the animal kingdom and enter the world of Cat Quest II, sequel to 2017’s Cat Quest from developer The Gentlebros. Cat Quest II inhabits the same world as its predecessor, though stars different characters and locations, and those familiar with Cat Quest will discover the experience has not substantially differed in its sequel. The same action-RPG gameplay abounds in the new entry, with plenty of dungeons, collectibles, and pet-related puns to keep you busy with light-hearted fun for a few hours. Unfortunately, if you’ve already play Cat Quest or are not a fan of action-RPGs, there may not be a lot of substance in this feline frenzy to feast upon.
Title: Cat Quest II
Developer: The Gentlebros
Available On: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Game Provided By PQube for the Purpose of This Review
Cat Quest II follows the story of a cat and, despite the title of the game, a dog, as they team up to rid their world from the tyrannical reign of two rulers. The introduction of the canine species adds little to gameplay technique, but increases the intrigue of the story by adding hatred and xenophobia of two races long at war. The two heroes embark on a quest through an open world landscape to retrieve the shards of a mythical blade that they assume will lend them the strength necessary to dispose of their leaders and end the war. The story, however frequently nonsensical, works in most respects and is easy to follow. Dialogue is conveyed through speech bubbles, emotes, and plenty of “…”s from your cat and dog duo. If you think puns are the cat’s meow, then rejoice – there are more puns than even the cat-eyed sleuth will be able to recognize.
The puns comprise the basis of humor and charm of the game, paired with endearing, brightly colored graphics and a forgiving difficulty that will put you at ease throughout your time in this pet-filled purrellel universe. It was relaxing to interact with locals, swing swords and shoot magicals spells at unsuspecting dragons and guards. The charm of Cat Quest II has a certain kawaii quality that would appeal to crazy cat connoisseurs of all ages. Unfortunately, a lot of the charm is relatively short lived. The pawful puns never caused anything more than a short burst of air to escape my nose, certainly never an audible laugh. The palette of colors that fill the game world, vibrant though they are, are fairly uniform throughout the entire map, and the environments, both overworld and in dungeons, provide very little variety.
Even the gameplay, as an action-RPG fan, grew repetitive before the game’s length exhausted, and the difficulty remained almost universally too easy. Sure, this game may have been directed towards a younger audience, but even games for children should carry an air of challenge and reward for completion. Overall, the game feels very similar to one of my all-time favorites, Bastion, even going so far as to visually resemble Bastion in many different instances. Unfortunately, Bastion plays and feels much tighter with deeper combat, more customization, and a lot of replay value with different weapon combinations. Cat Quest II limits you to melee or ranged, and only a handful of offensive magical spells that all work very similarly. The defensive spells are hardly necessary to complete the game. Enemies have weaknesses to certain spell types, though even this was trivial to the point of becoming meaningless. Most confusingly frustrating was the default keyboard configuration on PC. Movement was mapped to the traditional WASD, but your four spells slotted into R, F, C, and V. This new formula seems to be an artistic deviation from 1, 2, 3, and 4 (readily available above your left hand) but failed to deliver a comfortable or uncomplicated way to summon the arcane arts.
Throughout the four-legged fiesta, you’ll get three types of drops from kills and chests – experience, items, and money. All of these feel good to earn, though experience almost felt the most worthless. Levels fly by, and increasing level only applies bonuses to your base stats with no unlockable skills, attributes, or perks. Item drops are the most valuable, giving increased damage, healing, critical chance, and more. New items provided a substantial power upgrade that was noticeable the next time you entered battle, in addition to changing the look of your avatar (and let’s face it, who amongst us doesn’t like seeing dressed up cats and dogs?) Money was used to upgrade items and magic spells, which was helpful and seemed fairly priced. I went out of my way occasionally to return to the weapon and armor smiths occasionally to spend my new found treasure, and was glad to do so.
Perhaps most surprising to me in the presentation of Cat Quest II was the sound design. In a game starring cats and dogs at war against each other in a world of whimsy filled with puns, I would expect beautifully composed and silly songs around every corner and sound effects that matched the characters, full of different types of barks, meows, and everything in between. There are only a handful of sound effects throughout the game, some for magic, some for swords, and almost no animal noises. The few meows you’ll be lucky to hear sound almost like generic soundbytes from a stock folder. The soundtrack is hardly better, with only a couple of unique tracks that sound as unimaginative as the sound effects. The theme of the songs is fantasy, though the overworld song remains the same throughout the game and feels uninspired. The same can be said for the dungeon track. The mixing also felt very treble-heavy with little bass sprinkled in. About half-way through the game, I opted not to listen to the OST any longer and turned on my own playlist.
Graphically the game is mostly pleasing, and even though the action-rpg battle loop is shallow, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with the overall presentation of the game. The game falls safely within the range of “okay”, occasionally becoming good and at worst suffering from being too safe. The game retails on steam at $14.99, which is a good price if you are exceptionally drawn towards game starring cats and dogs and action-RPGs both, but with a playtime between three and four hours and little replay value, that price point may be a hard sell. There are achievements and dungeons to access after completion of the campaign, though I didn’t feel compelled enough to return for 100%. Considering that Cat Quest II is the same price as the previously-mentioned Bastion, which does everything Cat Quest II does, except better (besides the profusion of pet powered preposterousness). I would recommend a sale before sinking your claws into this one.