With all sequels, there’s a dilemma in how to build upon the original in a meaningful way. With Cat Quest II, the surprising solution was to introduce dogs into a game centred around cats as the hero. There is more to this sequel than just the addition of dogs though – this time there’s the introduction of a partner dog, controlled via AI or local co-op.
The original Cat Quest had a distinctive style and looked rather pleasing back in the earlier days of the Nintendo Switch, and in the two years since The Gentlebros have managed to do a wonderful job making this game look even better; looking back at past screenshots it is phenomenal the difference between the two games.
Like the previous game though, a lot of the map feels underutilised, which becomes even more apparent given the introduction of the Lupus (dog) Empire for you to explore. This doesn’t do justice by not only the impressive diversity on display, but also just the sheer amount of polish in the overarching design.
The same can’t quite be said for the menu design or the execution of the quests and general progression, however, and managing items feel like a chore, in part due to the way items are separating in the menu design. To make matters worse, upgrading these items is equally tedious and, at times, unpredictable. Mostly you will upgrade them at specific points in the map, but you can only do this one level at a time, even though you’ll likely want to upgrade the item by a few levels if not more, which forces you to repeat the action multiple times. Items are also upgraded when you find a duplicate of it in a chest somewhere. Sometimes this is helpful if it is an item you are currently using, and other times it is almost meaningless.
The main progression in Cat Quest II feels more disjointed as well. The main quest line is more directly highlighted, yet there are moments where it’s not too clear where the necessary side quests are that are needed to proceed. Then there is also the issue that completing side quests is basically essential in order to be at a level that makes the next main quest achievable. But by this point, the side-quests individually provide you with so little XP that they each become an exercise in grinding, and greatly detract from the otherwise interesting little stories they contain.
The co-op approach taken is also a mixed bag. Local co-op works absolutely fine – surprisingly well for a game that was originally single-player only – and it’s an enjoyable experience. However, when playing as a single-player game, something is lost in the process. That’s not to say the game is broken, it’s still very playable, but it feels like playing the game in this way is a hindered experience. The AI does its job but doesn’t add much to the experience, and the earlier mentioned problematic leveling system feels further compromised as a result.
Cat Quest II does live up to its predecessor and in many ways surpasses it, but overall, it feels like one paw forward and another paw backward. This a shame, as the storyline does seem more appropriate given the context between cats and dogs, rather than the still confusing plot of the first game that involved dragons. Maybe cats and dogs aren’t meant to mix after all.
Cat Quest II £12.99
Cat Quest II does as any good sequel should, expanding upon the core design of its predecessor whilst also improving things in terms of visuals. Whilst the end result is slightly compromised, the attempt is admirable.