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Cat Quest 2 Stands Out as the Cat’s Meow

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Cat Quest II

EGX Rezzed was filled with bright and brilliant playable demos, but the latest project by The Gentlebros really stood out as the cat’s meow.

Cat Quest 2 is a sequel to the original Cat Quest which debuted in 2017. The first title was met with critical acclaim among fans, receiving positive reviews. Cat Quest would arrive on console later the same year and has since won several awards.

The biggest and most pronounced change for the sequel are the inclusions of dogs and co-operative gameplay. The added co-operation is the real bread and butter of the game, as the combat and game mechanics work purrfectly when a pair is playing. The game can also be played entirely in single player, as well as co-operative with the option to switch between the two characters.

The EGX demo proved that working as a team is the best way of dealing with enemies. For example, a small spiked enemy will use a charged attack when provoked, which allows for one character to run in and bait the enemy to attack while the other moves in to land a blow. Timed dodging and parrying seem to be the best approach, as running in ham-handed will result in a swift K.O. Should the character receive a lot of damage during battle, players can rest up and recharge at several glowing stones by taking a quick nap. Playing as part of a team is not always as simple as it seems, however, with several traps designed to not damage the first player, but rather the one slacking behind.

Several other improvements have been implemented since the previous title, including new enemies and a complete overhaul to the inventory menus. One interesting feature is that the loot found throughout the levels is shared among the players, meaning if a particularly swanky new armour piece is found in a treasure chest, only one person will be able to equip it at a time.

Fans of the previous game will be pleased to hear that the gorgeously designed map is returning, as well as the treacherous treasure-filled dungeons. The design of the world is one of the game’s stand out features; players wander across an actual map complete with location names and, during combat, battle lines that prevent the characters from leaving a certain area. Another returning aspect that some may be thrilled about is the pawful pun-filled script, which often brings a quick smirk to the player’s face.

The helpful Navi-like sprite, Kirry, guides players along the vibrant and whimsical landscape and provides helpful hints throughout. Another returning character is Kit Cat who acts as the game’s upgrade and armour specialist. Players can visit Kit Cat to level up their gear via coins. The mage guild also makes a comeback and acts as the means to level up a character’s magical abilities. Other new characters include the villainous Lionar and Wolfen who have usurped the thrones of the two playable characters. Not much is known about the motives of the villains, but in-game clues suggest a Sheriff of Nottingham-esque villainy with sudden tax increases.

Cat Quest 2 is looking to be a must-have for RPG fans searching for a fun and fanciful adventure. The game will be arriving on Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One in 2019. Stay tuned for more Cat Quest news and other EGX coverage by following our FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Meanwhile, join the discussion on our community Discord server.

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Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King is a Baffling Combination of Journey and Dark Souls

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Mixing genres is a fairly common practice in video games. For some titles, the combination works well, such as Crypt of the Necrodancer‘s rhythmic dungeon crawling or Double Cross‘s use of light detective work between 2D platforming sections. Others do not fare so well, such as the out-of-place stealth sections in the Zelda-like Beyond Good and Evil, or the infamous jack-of-all-trades, master of none that Spore turned out to be. Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. Trying to combine the floaty exploration of Journey with the brutal combat of Dark Souls, the resulting mixture is a frustrating mess that will not please fans of either game. The first title by French independent developer Redlock Studio, this Early Access game requires a lot of work before it reaches the compelling gameplay experience it is aiming for.

The game begins with the protagonist waking up in Limbo, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. A tiny creature named Yaak takes pity on the player, suggesting that maybe the king Hypnos can help. The problem, however, is that Hypnos is the titular Forgotten King—a godlike figure, who mysteriously disappeared after creating the world. In his absence, demons have taken over the realms. On a journey to reclaim their identity, the protagonist just might be able to save the world along the way to finding the forgotten king.

The frustration begins as soon as the player gains control of the protagonist. Movement in  Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King is floaty and imprecise. This annoyance might be minor in a platformer, but the inclusion of the punishing combat of a Souls-like makes it beyond frustrating. Enemy encounters are dangerous in this style of game, with the need to dodge, parry, and circle around combatants to avoid death. However, the controls simply do not have the precision needed for the task. When the game requires frame-perfect timing to parry an enemy’s attack but features a character that moves like molasses, more often than not the player will take a hit. Apart from the initial listless humanoids of Limbo, enemies are much faster and stronger than the protagonist, quickly taking down an unprepared player. The balance is so uneven that the first boss, a hulking creature with an enormous greatsword, feels like a fairer fight than the rooms full of small enemies since his attacks are slower and more clearly telegraphed. Often, the better choice is just to run past the enemies all together.

Should the player manage to defeat some enemies, they will gain essence, which is used in levelling up. Levelling up can only be done in Limbo, often requiring a fair bit of backtracking. Players can improve their vitality, stamina, strength, or mystic, but no explanation is given on what those statistics actually do. Putting one point into strength will result in the character doing one point of extra damage, but since even the smallest enemies have hundreds of health points, a lot of level ups would be required before the player would see any real benefit. 

The platforming aspect of the game fares little better. The player is given no indication of where they have to go or what they have to do, just the general imperative of finding the king. The Frontier D’Imbolt, the first real level in the game, has plains spread out in all directions, encouraging exploration. However, the map is also full of instant death; lava, spiky plants, ledges to be avoided, and, of course, aggressive enemies, making exploration much less inviting. The floaty controls cause problems here, too, with over-shooting a target platform a constant issue. This annoyance could be resolved somewhat with giving the character a shadow to see where they will land. The viewpoint will also randomly change from 3D to 2D, with no real change in gameplay. The change seems to be purely for aesthetics, which does not seem reason enough for including annoying running-towards-the-camera gameplay.

Aesthetics, in general, is a strong point for Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, with interesting character design and a muted colour palette. The enemies have a cool ghostly appearance, all transparent with hard planes. The blockiness of the world has an appealing look but sometimes presents gameplay issues, with a lack of clarity on which blocks can be stood upon and which cannot. Music is a highlight throughout the experience, soft and atmospheric throughout the levels but clashing into something harsh and unfamiliar for the boss fights.

As an Early Access title, bugs are to be expected at this stage of development, and Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King has plenty to offer. Despite being set to English, Yaak would occasionally slip into French, along with tooltips and the occasional item description. The English translation in general needs some more work, with quite a few typos and some weird wording, like ‘Strenght’ in the character status screen and ‘Slained’ when defeating the boss Hob. Enemies have buggy AI, sometimes freezing in place if the player wanders slightly too far away. Some instant death obstacles seem misplaced, with death spikes jutting out of a random wall. Most devastating was the game failing to acknowledge that the boss was defeated, with the gate he was guarding refusing to open. Perhaps defeating him again would make the gate work, but few players would be inclined to do so after a tough battle. 

Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King has the potential to become an interesting game but is simply not fun to play in its current state. The incompatibility of Journey and Dark Souls is the core of the game’s problem: it needs to lean more heavily on one concept or the other—make the levels more peaceful playgrounds for exploration, or tighten up the combat experience to reach that satisfying balance of hard but fair. Trying to have both leaves the game in this strange middle ground where no one is satisfied.

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