Cat Quest II Review — No More Cat Puns, Please and Thank You
Cat Quest II is a fun romp, but the thrills on offer are a bit shallow.
Cat Quest II is an action-RPG aimed at children. While games like Diablo and Path of Exile require massive time commitments and attention to detail, Cat Quest II offers pure pick-up-and-play enjoyment. There aren’t complex progression systems to manage, and you’ll always feel a strong sense of purpose and direction as you play this game. It is super accessible, and I applaud it for that. Unfortunately, the world, writing, and characters of Cat Quest II are not merely simple and accessible–they’re plain uninspired. And that’s what keeps this game from being truly great.
Personality should come easy to a game about an adorable cat-and-dog duo, but Cat Quest II isn’t quite as cute and charming as it ought to be. Part of the problem is world-building. When I first booted up the game, I thought of the exotic locations I might visit: “the cardboard fortress,” “the park,” “the sandbox,” “the pet shop.” I found none of them. Cat Quest II takes place on an overworld that looks like a continental map and in grey, maze-like dungeons. That’s it. There are interesting names of places, but there aren’t actually interesting places to go. Simple combat is one thing, but the simple world of Cat Quest II is creatively barren. It’s a shame, honestly–the premise is so fertile. Maybe the developers didn’t think so. Maybe they just wanted to sell copies of the game based on an idea and not on content.
The overarching narrative of Cat Quest II is fine: you play as a cat and a dog working together to bring peace to the kingdoms of cats and dogs. A bit slapdash if you ask me, but it’ll suffice–action-RPGs don’t need a lot. A simple motivation like this is totally fine.
However, what isn’t fine is a total lack of imagination when it comes to dialogue and character design. Dialogue in Cat Quest II is painfully corny, and this is largely due to the game’s excessive use of puns. It’s not even a pun-a-minute–it’s a pun-every-five-seconds, and they are all just awful. Some jokes are funny precisely because they are unfunny, but Cat Quest II wears out its welcome very quickly.
The word “purrfect,” for example, is in literally every character’s vocabulary. This is lame. In addition to being lame, though, it’s a serious problem: because every character tells the same joke, no character feels particularly unique. I mean, it’s fine to make a game that appeals to children, but this feels like it was written by children. And you know what? Even kids will roll their eyes when they see the word “fur” misused for the 8000th time. I can hear them shouting now as they turn off the game: “We are the future! We deserve better writing!”
The art design in Cat Quest II could also be better. It’s functional–action in the game feels and looks pretty good–but the game just doesn’t seem to have much life. The first problem is a lack of unique character models. Each friendly is either a dog or a cat and virtually identical apart from minor cosmetic differences. Enemy variety isn’t great either: you’ll fight one too many wyverns during your playthrough of Cat Quest II. Ultimately, everything sort of feels and looks the same. Compare this with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Both games utilize a paper-thin art style, but Paper Mario features a massive number of enemies and friendly characters, all of which sport unique animations and designs. One of these games is a classic, and the other is not. I’ll let you guess which is which.
Where the minimal art design really fails, though, is when the game tries to deliver story or characterization. Because every character looks the same, it’s hard to take an interest in the world of Cat Quest II. Dialogue “portraits” help a little, but there is no variation in these images either. In 2019, this is unacceptable. Persona 5, for instance, uses subtle cues to denote mood when characters are angry, confused, or playful, but Cat Quest II does nothing of the sort. Every piece of dialogue is delivered with the same static portrait. It’s functional, but it’s too stoic. Being able to see more facial expressions would go a long way toward making this game feel livelier.
There are a few unique characters in the game. “Hotto Doggo,” for example, is your sage “Japanese” weaponsmith. As his name suggests, he likes hot dogs. He’ll use hot dogs and condiments as metaphors to discuss everything under the sun. Unfortunately, this is one step forward and two steps back, as even Hotto Doggo really just wants to make puns. Furthermore, while adding hot dog metaphors into the mix is a good start, it’s just another dumb gimmick–not real character development. This would be fine if Hotto Doggo was merely comic relief and there were other meaningful characters in the game. Too bad your protagonists are silent, and too bad every other character is just a walking pun-vessel. Missed opportunity, I suppose.
Despite these issues, Cat Quest II is still a very playable and accessible action-RPG. The combat, for instance, is completely adequate. You’ll essentially mash down the attack button, dodge when you have to, and cast a few spells when you can. It’s simple, but it’s also pretty fun. If I were new to action-RPGs, I’d probably be enthralled by the responsive combat. However, other games in the genre give you a plethora of abilities to utilize. If you’re accustomed to such complexity, the combat of Cat Quest II will seem a bit too shallow. You’ll know everything you need to know within five minutes of playing.
The entry-level nature of Cat Quest II extends to its out-of-combat sequences. The puzzles and quests are quintessentially “video gamey”: you’ll navigate mazes, fetch items, and flip switches, and you’ll always feel a strong sense of direction as you work to proceed. I enjoyed being able to relax while I played this game, and I think even children will be able to make meaningful progress every time they play Cat Quest II.
On the other hand, the quests tend to be pretty unimaginative. Everything is a fetch quest or a battle, and the rewards are never particularly consequential. Couple these issues with an uninspiring world and flat characters, and you’re dealing with a very tedious process. RPG quests live and die by the quality of their lore, and the lore of Cat Quest II is never very engaging.
All that being said, Cat Quest II is okay. It has a lot of bright colors and recognizable video game archetypes, and it also has good sound design. I think kids will get a kick out of mashing down an attack button and dodging enemy attacks, and doing so will net them a mildly interesting story about achieving peace between cats and dogs. Basically, it’s a decent introduction to action-RPGs, and I’m sure its accessibility will appeal to a lot of people. On the other hand, there are many other bright and accessible games that have a lot more charm and personality than Cat Quest II–I recommend seeking one of those out instead.