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Cat Quest (Switch) artwork

Cat Quest (Switch) review

"Cat Quest's simplistic visuals and cute presentation mask a surprisingly satisfying adventure for young and old."

Cat Quest pretends to be a simple game about a young feline's quest to save his sister. It's actually a bit more than that, though. You may devote double-digit hours to the search for your sibling, but along the way, you'll help numerous other kitties to lead better lives in a fantasy kingdom that's a pleasure to get to know.

When I started playing Cat Quest, I wasn't sure quite what to expect from it. The cartoon visuals and basic set-up made me believe I would coast through a simplistic campaign and move on to other projects without ever letting myself get hooked. So it was a pleasant surprise to find out how wrong my expectations were. There is a surprisingly deep world to explore here, with secrets to unearth and a twisting (and at times, surprisingly dark) plot that should entertain even the big kids at the table.

Cat Quest (Switch) image

Cat Quest is an action-RPG that is easy to grasp right from the start. Your character possesses a melee attack, which is supplemented by various magic spells that deal damage or heal health. Striking foes fills a gauge that allows the use of the more powerful abilities, but also puts you at risk because enemies are able to routinely unleash dangerous area attacks even when you're wailing away on them. You have to know when to attack, when to retreat and when to unleash your elemental magic. The simple but complex combat means even basic mobs can end your run if you're not careful, unless you have leveled several times more than seems necessary.

The game's hero can also power up spells after first learning them, and can improve armor and weapons found in treasure chests and as rewards for completing side quests. Different pieces of equipment enhance or downgrade key character attributes, such as melee weapon attack power or magical ability. Some armor also adds a temporary defensive boost, but may lower your overall health. Gear typically grows stronger only when you invest in treasure chests that randomly award improvements to stuff you may not even like, so you're encouraged to mix and match and experiment for the campaign's duration.

As you roam the world, you'll generally find yourself on one of two map types: the generally open overworld or a more cramped dungeon space. In either case, enemies wander freely. Getting close to mobs will cause them to pursue you, though they do tend to stay away from most towns. Any enemy that might try to rough you up has limited attack range, which appears as a translucent emblem so you know what you can avoid and what will strike you. The smarter you play, the better your chances of besting even a superior rival and gaining experience points that allow you to level more quickly.

Cat Quest (Switch) image

Unfortunately, you'll probably have to grind quite a lot as you progress through the game. Standard enemies don't dole out a lot of experience points, which leaves you to spend a bunch of time wandering in search of gold and opportunities. Side quests allow you to gain large batches of experience in a hurry, and also tell stories that give the world new depth, but there aren't enough of them to completely eliminate the need for tedious grinding. It doesn't help that it's so easy to lose fights against the foes that net you the most experience, and that any experience gains are wiped out if you fall in combat and are sent back to the last place where you saved your progress. You can save frequently, though, so this is rarely an issue.

At first,Cat Quest doesn't seem like a particularly ambitious affair. The overworld map doesn't feel particularly large, and you can see most of its southern half within a few minutes of play. However, know that you'll spend a lot of time crisscrossing the realm, either to complete side quests or because you want to revisit a cave later in the game, once you have grown more powerful. It feels like there's always some secret you haven't had the time or the resources to explore, and that allows the game to feel fresh for a long, long while even though it lacks some of the visual variety you might anticipate and prefer.

Cat Quest (Switch) image

By the end of the campaign, despite the fun I'd had getting to know the game's world and characters, I was ready forCat Quest to finally end. The endgame dragged on for a bit longer than I liked, and some of the last battles found me facing off against foes that could kill me in a single hit unless I spent a bunch of time strengthening my character and equipment. I feel like the adventure would've been more satisfying if it didn't make those last hoops so difficult to leap through, but I had a lot of fun with the game as a whole and I think most other players who give it a shot will, as well.

If you're looking for an action-RPG that dares to stray from the beaten path,Cat Quest is a great way to go. Its engaging combat, addictive customization and surprisingly meaty narrative are a winning combination that should delight daring adventurers young and old. I might even go so far as to say it's the cats meow.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 26, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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