A smarter man than me would open this review with some witty cat pun. Alas, I am not that smarter man, but if you came for the cat puns let me tell you, Cat Quest 2 is absolutely brimming with them. Not only that but it’s a decent little RPG, and being totally honest, I’m a dog person so that comes as high praise.
Cat Quest 2 has you play as both a cat and a dog, in what is an original take on the whole two rivals brought together trope that video games love so much – what bigger rivalry than cats and dogs after all? Working in tandem the game uses a decent dynamic in that you can switch instantly between the two as you explore or during battle. I’ll be honest, my general feeling towards cats is one of unease (they are always plotting something if you ask me) and I did set off with the intention of using the dog as my “main” character, ignoring the smug-looking cat altogether, however this quickly changed and I was soon mixing up my characters on a whim regardless of their species.
Once I started playing my ingrained animal prejudice quickly dissolved and I soon realised how simple, elegant and useful the system Cat Quest 2 has in place for switching between dog and cat. I quickly made my dog the skirmisher, diving in and swinging away at enemies with sword or axe, while my cat became the mage, casting spells and doing damage from afar. Besides being a fairly accurate representation of how I view dogs and cats in general, this set up served me well, and I began equipping my two furry companions to meet their specific roles that I had assigned.
From the onset, there is no real difference between the two furry characters other than a superficial one, with attributes assigned depending on the equipment and spells you give them as you play. Not once did the game set me down this path or tell me to do this, but through intuitive design and gameplay, I felt that this was an obvious choice to make. That’s the beauty of Cat Quest 2 – if you want both characters to be mages and reign fiery death from afar so be it, the game doesn’t restrict how you play.
Cat Quest 2 does let you play sofa co-op, so should you have a buddy who is keen to jump in and give you a hand you have that option too, sharing loot and spells as you require. Playing solo, I still found times when I needed to mix up my spell and equipment layout, sharing a few of them between my two furry characters as needed. For instance, at one point my cat mage ran out of mana to cast a healing spell, so I assigned that particular one to the dog, who immediately cast it and saved us both from a grim fate.
Death in Cat Quest 2 comes about when both characters die, so keeping at least one alive is a must. If your current character falls then you instantly switch control to the secondary animal, with both characters health and mana on show at all times. After a few minutes, your fellow companion will revive and catch you up if you stray too far, so the game doesn’t ever feel too punishing or demanding, but don’t confuse that for it being easy.
Cat Quest 2 has a simple (by modern RPG standards) HUD and equipment screen, where you can equip spells and equipment found as you explore. This was something I found incredibly refreshing as I could quickly assign my gear through the pause menu, switching characters with triangle and equipping whatever I desired with X. Bish bash bosh, job done, as simple as that. No scrolling through endless menus or needlessly detailed item descriptions, I could quickly and effortlessly switch up my loadout as required and Cat Quest 2 felt all the better for it.
That’s not to say that items don’t have bonuses or attributes assigned to them – this is after all an RPG – but often these are simple and quickly prioritised as you play. Buffs vary from the usual increasing damage or experience gained, and these are often assigned to the appropriate item – weapons that increase your strength and armour increasing your defence for example. Again, it’s a simple system but it works and can be done on the fly at a moments notice.
Purists might argue that this makes the game too easy, and I will confess at first I was of that opinion. I quickly rattled my way through the usual experience grind, hitting level 15 before I’d even ventured pretty far, but the enemies you meet quickly scale alongside the dungeons and caves you encounter. Venturing into these areas is a pretty foregone conclusion, with most dungeons hiding gold and items tucked away in their murky depths.
Exploration in Cat Quest 2 has you walking around a beautifully animated map that looks like it was pulled straight out of an old school Final Fantasy game. Enemies you encounter and areas to explore are all visible as you wander about, so can easily be avoided or attacked at will, with each displaying a recommended level above them. Fancy a challenge? Why not provoke that fire squirrel 10 levels above you, see what happens? The animation throughout Cat Quest 2 is superb and serves to complement the game well.
Combat in Cat Quest 2 is simple too, with a basic attack mapped to Square, a roll to X and your spells to the shoulder buttons. Enemies often advertise their attack before pulling it off, with a red area of effect filling up to indicate both the damage zone and how long it is until they let rip. The obvious tactic is to get in, get a few licks in (hey does that count as a cat pun?) with your weapon before rolling away to safety, but later some enemies need a bit of both before succumbing to your onslaught.
To help with that, the Triangle button has you immediately switch characters. This quickly became useful in that it allows you to vary your attacks during combat. Some enemies are vulnerable to magic, while others could take a good beating from the axe, so switching up your character is a crucial tactic as you progress. Of course defeating enemies awards you experience and gold, which can then be used to upgrade your items and spells, with new items being found in chests scattered in the many dungeons you encounter.
Alongside the main quest that has you trekking to unite the kingdom, side quests can be accessed as you explore the world, given to you by the other cats and dogs that are scattered across the map. As ever, completing them offers their own reward while filling in some of the games’ backstory. Being a completionist I jumped in on as many as I could. Occasionally you are bestowed with a rare item or spell upon completing them, but the main take away is the gold and experience you receive, as they are clearly designed to help you level up as you plough through the main story.
Many might see Cat Quest 2’s design and confuse simplicity with easy or not being worthy of their time, but, in fact, I would argue the opposite to be true. Behind the simple facade and cat/dog puns (yes there are a lot but we can forgive it that much) lies a game that is fun and enjoyable to pick up and play. In this day and age, games too often strive for realism with convoluted systems and inventory screens – Cat Quest 2 doesn’t come with all that baggage, and what’s left is all the better for it.
Cat Quest 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Cat Quest 2 is an enjoyable RPG that is easy to pick up and play. Although simple in many respects, its charm and character shine throughout, making this a game that is definitely worthy of your time.
- Simple yet elegant systems that all fit together nicely
- Beautifully animated world that adds character and charm
- Easy to pick up and play
- Combat works well, with the ability to swap your loadout on the fly
- Lack of online means sofa co-op only
- Slight overkill on the cat and dog puns. We get it already
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Reviewed using base PS4.
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Stuart has had a long and lengthy love affair with video games, since he first woke up to find Santa had left him a Sega Master System complete with Alex the Kidd built in no less. Since then, his thumbs have become calloused and he has missed many a nights sleep in the pursuit of those elusive “5 more minutes…” but his love has never wavered.