Thursday, February 20, 2020

REVIEW: Cat Quest II

The first Cat Quest game was a surprise to be sure. I got it on sale for a few bucks because I thought it looked cute. I was blown away by how expansive and big the world felt despite the game being simple and relatively small. Before I finished the first game, I knew I needed to check out the sequel.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Cat Quest II courtesy of the Gentlebros.
Opinions are my own.

If you're an indie game developer with a decent success on your hands, take a look at Cat Quest II because this is how you do a sequel. Virtually everything from the original game is present - enhanced or tweaked for the better - and new features are added to build on the world all in an effort making this sequel familiar yet new to players of the original.

Cat Quest is the kind of sequel that brilliantly builds upon the original. Everything from your first adventure in Felingard is still there. Some of the problems and issues have been corrected. An entire new world was created.

Cat Quest II takes place after the first game, but you don't need to have played the original. In fact, you don't even play as the protagonist from the first game. Instead, the sequel tells the story of the corrupt rulers of the Kingdom of Felingard and the all-new Lupus Empire. Players take control of the usurped kings on a quest to reclaim their thrones.

This time around, players are able to head north of Felingard to explore the Lupus Empire - home of the dogs. The player is also given an extra party member in the form of a dog to aid in their adventure.

The extra party member adds for some added variety in gameplay. You can switch freely between the two at any time and you only lose health on whichever one you're controlling, so it's kinda like having an extra health bar. 

There is no gameplay difference between the two, so you're free to customize them however you want. But you can only give individual weapons, armor, and spells to one character at a time which leaves you open to create your own play style - I prefer giving the strongest and toughest gear to the dog and turning the cat into a full blown wizard.

Another big selling point to the two characters is the inclusion of co-op multiplayer. This is great because the AI-controlled extra character sometimes goes off on his own and the controls are simple enough for anyone to hop in and join the adventure regardless of prior video game experience. That being said, there are no LEGO-style puzzles designed for two characters, which feels kind of like a wasted opportunity.

While the addition of a second character changes up the action, hands down my favorite addition to this sequel is an entire extra world to explore - a world filled with dogs! The first game's map was large with lots of things to do, but it started looking the same after a while. The new area is a huge bonus.

While the Kingdom of Felingard is your classic Euro-Medieval storybook fantasy world, the Lupus Empire draws inspiration from both feudal Japan and ancient Egypt. I've never seen quite a combo like that! As video games go, Japan is the obvious choice as it's different enough and allows for popular concepts like ninja and samurai. Egypt is a smarter choice with its unique landscapes and mythology full of cat and dog imagery. Combining the two otherwise unrelated settings is genius level worldbuilding I almost forgot this was a game lousy with cat puns.

I love fantasy worldbuilding and Cat Quest knows how to do it so well. There are so many little details that make this world feel real. This is one of those games where you'll want to do as many side-quests as possible to learn as much as you can about the cats and dogs of Felingard and the Lupus Empire.

I'd also like to point out that Felingard wasn't copied and pasted over from the first game. The world is completely brand new with a landscape that features similar landmarks and locations while adding and replacing all kinds of new content. Even if they didn't add the Lupus Empire, this would have still been a completely new experience.

Cat Quest was a great game and Cat Quest II is everything from the original  - but better. It takes an adorable premise and distills multiple gaming tropes into a simple concept, all while remaining expansive enough that no player should ever get bored.

Cat Quest II is currently available digitally on the Nintendo Switch. A physical release is also available to pre-order on the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. This bundle includes the original Cat Quest too - what a deal!