Don’t let the generic name or the feline-oriented theme fool you: Cat Quest on the Nintendo Switch is an absolute joy. Granted, this action-RPG doesn’t come close to scratching any deep itches you might have, but its pick-up-and-play design, not to mention its adorable artwork and fluid combat, should provide enough punch for quick sessions on the train, on break, or right before bed. Or, if you’re like me, you can spend hours leveling up your little cat warrior in hopes of knocking out the game’s most demanding dungeons. Level 200 cave, I still have my sights set on you. My day will come.
Originally released for iOS and Android, though later making its way to the Switch and PlayStation 4, Cat Quest chronicles the adorable adventures of a reluctant feline warrior as he searches for his missing sister, who has been kidnapped by the villainous Drakoth. Our hero is joined on his quest through the world of Felingard (get it?) by a magical sidekick who helps players level up while providing a wealth of much-needed exposition. Since the main character is essentially mute, our pun-loving assistant carries the story for the better part of the game. And while the tale itself doesn’t reinvent the wheel, there’s an emotional twist toward the very end that I honestly didn’t see coming.
Your adventure across Felingard takes place from a top-down perspective, giving you a pretty good view of the world itself and the adorable albeit savage monsters that lurk on the horizon. Combat and spellcasting are a breeze; with a few button presses, you’ll lay waste to foes who almost look too cute to obliterate. Of course, your enemies won’t cut you any slack, and if given the opportunity, they’ll send you back to the last town where you caught a quick catnap (which is how you save your progress). The combat feels weighty despite its simplistic nature, and once you get the hang of how each encounter unfolds, even higher-level creatures won’t stand in your way for very long.
Of course, pressing your luck against the game’s more difficult foes will ultimately end in your untimely demise. While Cat Quest offers a colorful and inviting world to explore, a lot of those nastier baddies will keep you roaming the same landscapes until you’re at a high enough level to take them down. Thankfully, the dungeons and caves graciously announce their difficulty level as you approach, giving you a good idea of what you’re up against before descending into the darkness. Again, if you’ve got the flow of combat down to a science, you can tackle the harder areas at a lower level, though you’ll really have to work for it. Felingard might water the eyes with its cuteness, but it also packs a wicked punch. It’s no Dark Souls, mind you, but the game does provide a fair amount of challenge.
To help buff up your little ball of fur, you can tackle a plethora side missions via Witcher 3-esque quest boards that will drastically increase your abilities, as well as provide a few chuckles for those of us out there who, well, simply adore cats. Yes, nearly every single quest — including the main story — features some kind of feline-related pun or joke of varying quality. Often, our mysterious sidekick will replace swear words and questionable language with groan-inducing, family-friendly terms that make even the most stagnate dad jokes seem like world-class humor. And if you need some timely pop-culture references, there are also some odd Game of Thrones and Walking Dead jokes tossed randomly into the mixed, which makes you wonder who this game was intended for in the first place.
And what would a proper RPG be without the endless search for loot? You can trick out your cute little mouser with a number of different weapons, helmets, and armor, each of which benefits a certain playstyle. And if you outfit your little furball in a complete set, you’ll receive some fringe benefits to help you traverse the landscape a little easier. Instead of collecting an endless supply of gear, you’ll spend your hard-earned gold coins at the local blacksmith, where you can roll up your equipment, which is automated and random. You can also find dozens of treasure chests containing loot in dungeons and caverns, though you’ll need to unlock the ability to access the fancier chests. Word to the wise: It’s worth searching out this secret if you want to enjoy the game’s unique gear.
Despite Cat Quest’s many pleasing aspects, it ultimately falls short in a few areas. The dungeons, catacombs, and caves pretty much look the same; if you’ve seen one, you’ve essentially seen them all. The same goes for the enemies you’ll encounter during your adventures. While they’re cute and wonderfully realized, the rogue’s gallery isn’t very robust. Additionally, once you’ve worked out of the song and dance of combat and acquired some nifty gear, the challenge magically disappears. And while you do have several cool spells at your fingertips, I found myself using only one since it provided the best approach to just about every confrontation. Mind you, these are minor issues in a pretty superb game, but hardcore RPG fanatics should probably look elsewhere for their fix.
Last, but certainly not least, we need to talk about the game’s reliance on cat puns. While I adore feline humor and thoroughly appreciated the goofiness sprinkled liberally throughout Cat Quest, those who aren’t smitten by these four-legged, pointy-eared floofs might start choking on hairballs after the first hour of gameplay. Cats and cat-oriented jokes serve as the game’s foundation, so you might want to skip this one entirely if the idea of endless puns and gags centered around felines sounds like an abysmal experience. I giggled out loud on several occasions, but I do possess a somewhat skewed sense of humor, so your mileage will most likely vary greatly from my own. Just a heads up.
If you find yourself jonesing for a lightweight action-RPG that doesn’t demand a lot of your precious time, pounce on Cat Quest as soon as you have the chance. Guiding your little ball of fluff through this journey rarely gets old, and the game’s pick-up-and-play mechanics make a great title for bite-sized adventures. You can easily sink about 10 hours into this game and still not have a high enough level to take down all of the dungeons on the map, though whether you’ll want to devote that much time to the game depends greatly on your own personal enjoyment. I’m still gunning for that level 200 dungeon, so Cat Quest will likely remain curled up quietly on my memory card for quite some time.
Cat Quest is a lightweight action-RPG that doesn't demand a lot of your precious time yet provides a deep enough experience to scratch a much deeper itch. It's a purrfect addition to the Nintendo Switch lineup.