Cat Quest II Review :The cat's meow or for the dogs?

Cat Quest II: The Lupus Empire is an action RPG lite set in a world ruled by cats and dogs. There is a growing tension between the dogs of t...

Cat Quest II: The Lupus Empire is an action RPG lite set in a world ruled by cats and dogs. There is a growing tension between the dogs of the Lupus Empire and the cats of Felingard and with the full out war looming, two kings from the past are resurrected and tasked to work together to remove the warmongering leaders that are escalating the conflict and reclaim their thrones in order to bring peace and stability to the continent. What follows is a lighthearted action adventure filled to the brim with animal related puns.

Playing the role of a cat and dog you can either run solo and switch between the two unlikely heroes with a touch of a button, or you can choose co-op mode and have a friend help you. The nice thing is that you can continue the same adventure no matter which option you choose. To do so, you will have to save and leave to the menu screen first as there is no drop in drop out option. Though it is not a big deal, it is nice to have the feature and not have to replay the same story from scratch if you do not want to.
For those who have played the first Cat Quest, this sequel features a brand new story set in the world of Felingard. You do not need to have played the first game in order to follow along in this one. Besides a new story the game also features new weapon types, spells and abilities. 

The action in Cat Quest II takes place from a top down isometric like view point with the world looking a lot like the overworld maps you find in most Japanese RPG's. Unlike in those JRPG overworld maps you wont be jumped by random creatures and loaded into a battle mode you can see your adversaries directly on the map and fight them in button mashing fashion making for simple but engaging fights. You can dodge attacks with a well placed roll and attack with melee or casting weapons. Then there is the availability to cast spells. Some deliver devastating damage while others protect you and your allies, increase stats or provide healing etc. Though you start with just one spell, you will earn more over the course of the game and you are going to need a variety of combo's to defeat the more powerful enemy challenges. 

The large world of Cat Quest II is yours to explore as it is presented as a non linear open world. You will notice though that some areas could be out of reach for you because they are populated by much more powerful enemies, making chances of survival slim to none.  Throughout various areas on the map, there are magic towers that connect the world together with shortcuts. So if you feel particularly brave you can try a speed run through to a tower and unlock the shortcut. Otherwise you slowly work your way through the game grinding until you gain a high enough level to move on.

As I mentioned the combat is fairly basic, with easy controls and mostly based on your ability to know when to hit and know when to dodge out of the way and recover. It makes for a fairly relaxed gameplay with occasional nail biting challenges but never impossibly hard. When equipping your two characters it is up to you if you want to focus on spell casting or close melee combat. If you go with the former then you gain more spell mana recovery, and the ability to blast enemies from afar with a wand. As a counter to that you will be not receiving many hit points and be an archetype squishy spell caster (This is why in DnD we used to push the wizard in a tree first when a battle started). As a heavy hitter getting up close and personal will leave you open for attacks, so you will be getting a buttload more hit points to counter that. 
There is also a difference in the equipment itself, from big damage but slow hitting broadswords to smaller and faster hitting one handed items. Wands come in a variety of spell damage and it becomes important to select the right one against the right enemy type. For instance hitting an ice dragon with fire is super effective and this will be indicated with purple colored high damage numbers on screen. Armor will increase stats and skills such as resistance and roll distance.  Luckily you can switch at any time during gameplay by pressing the inventory button. The game pauses and you can switch your equipment to better deal with the threat. Team work is also important and it is probably best that each of the two characters has a unique build with different stats in order to best take on a variety of enemies. Each item you equip will be shown on your character real time and there are certain sets to collect such as a ranger, explorer and wizard outfits to name a few.

Dress up time

There is no selling, destroying or dropping of equipment. Instead it is a "collect them all" inventory and each item will upgrade as you progress. All inventory space is shared and you have to decide who gets to wear what from the inventory screen. Upgrading your items and skills can be done by collecting money and buy upgrades with various main NPC's in the game or, in the case of equipment, find better versions in dungeons.
Each dungeon is a mini challenge where you have to find your way through, defeat all enemies, avoiding traps and in some cases look for hidden pathways in order to find all treasure. Other dungeons are a test of might and you will have to defeat multiple waves of enemies, which of course get tougher with each wave and even may end with a mini boss.
There is a main quest, but along the way there are plenty of cute mini quests to pick up often with an obvious wink to its inspiration, such as a Jekyll and Hide etc. When you activate a quest you see a big arrow to indicate where you should go next and you can look it up on the big map as well.  However, you are not able to create a way point on the map to follow. If you die during an active quest the game resets back to the last save point that you had. Throughout the game there are small statues that can bring your health and mana back up to 100% and save the game for you. So you want to use them often to keep backtracking to a minimum. 
If you regret taking a quest you do not have to die first but instead you can find a book, and there are several, on the map which can rewind time to before you accepted the quest affectively abandoning it.

All the characters and enemies sport fun designs but even though enemy variety is decent there is a lack of such variety in the unnamed NPC's which is a bit of a shame because the art style could make for some great designs, even for the background "farm folk".  The art style has a chibi feel to it and is colorful and interesting. For your two main characters there is an art asset for each piece of equipment they wear and the spell effect adds a lot of splash to the screen when fully engaged in combat. 

The soundtrack is entertaining though it becomes a bit repetitive after long play sessions due to the lack of variety. There are no speaking roles, all conversations and storytelling are done by text, but small queues such as a cat meow or dog bark with exclamations marks or emoji face bubbles, help to stay engaged.

Despite the looming premise of war and evil, the story is not overly dark or complicated. The same goes for the quests. If you are a seasoned RPG gamer, there will not be much new to see here, but it is functional and fun to play and makes for an excellent game to play with those new to the genre or if you just want some gaming on the lighter side. The game is also filled with puns on every opportunity, or should I saw PAWportunity and beyond that. It is dad jokes and kids humor in overdrive but it is very entertaining to see how many puns can be squeezed into a conversation. The way I see it is that this is just how they speak in this world. 

There is a lot to like about Cat Quest II from the design to the light hearted gameplay. There is a ton of content available to keep you occupied for quite a while. The co-op option makes for an excellent game to play together with a friend, sibling or partner. For some seasoned players and perhaps those with an allergy to puns, the game might be too much fluff and not deep enough of an experience. But for anyone looking for an engaging time will be able to find that in this game. Cat Quest II had us playing with a smile on our face the entire time and held us in its grip way beyond bedtime just so that we could explore one more dungeon or play one more quest. Cat Quest II is Gaming Catnip and a delightful distraction.

Game information:
Developer: TheGentlebros
Publisher: PQubeGames
Release date: September 24, 2019  for PC, Autumn for Consoles.
Platforms: PC(Steam), Nintendo Switch,PS4,XBOXOne
Version Reviewed:  PC (Steam)
ESRB: E 10+ for Everyone ( Fantasy Violence)


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