I enjoy it when a game decides to go full on mash-up and that is exactly what The Fantastic Kitty Rue goes for. It’s part visual novel, part point n click adventure, part hidden object and part rhythm game. It is not your average combination and that comes with pro’s and con’s as you flip from style to style but this is a game that never lacks ambition or heart.
Before I begin explaining the gameplay, I feel we should touch on the excellent mash up of visual designs too. The game, based on a web comic, comes with a mixture of 1920’s Art Deco theming with animal/human hybrids in a slightly dystopian retro future. Again, this melting pot of ideas is somewhat unique but its an art direction I really enjoyed. The characters are cute and well voiced and the world, whilst small, feels lived in and world builds at the same time. It’s a small team that created this game so Kitty Rue is no Magna Carta but everything is here to get invested in a story. That story is of a girl overcoming the odds to follow her dreams and whilst its been countless times before, there is an earnestness here that sells the story well.
The gameplay does have some bumps along the way. Firstly, the visual novel sections are nicely done but I’d advice to not let it play on auto as it cuts off voice actors mid sentence. You’ll then either be dropped into a point n click area, usually based around finding objects and combining them, or a rhythm game. Point n click areas see you standing in a central location and spinning around in full 360 motion (up and down too) to find specific clues. You don’t actually move and that’s ok. Many clues are quite easy to spot by the fact the UI picks them up as named objects. Kitty Rue will then add them to her inventory for you to then pass to another character or combine objects to make something else. Nothing is more than three steps away from a goal completion which keeps things focused but sometimes objects are tucked away in hidden corners in a room that you don’t immediately look for. That’s why at times it felt like a hidden object game more than a point n click adventure because I spent more time doing that than enjoying the character interactions. I also ran into a couple of issues where things didn’t highlight until I had seemingly collected something else first but I’m not entirely sure if that was me being a bit clumsy.
Also present is the rhythm action part of The Fantastic Kitty Rue. Taking 1920’s ragtime styled midi files, you’ll be using a six key keyboard layout to press buttons to make Kitty Rue dance. Using A,S,D,J,K and L, you’ll need both hands to do well. Personally, I enjoyed the rhythm elements – especially that it wasn’t afraid to make you play with 4 fingers at once to play “chords”. It didn’t seem to follow the musical motifs too closely but it had its own melody it was tapping out instead. Ultimately, it was fine but not the major selling point – its the whole stylised art and story being told.
Whilst there are some rogue edges, there’s nothing I’m sure a couple of tweaks and patches couldn’t solve. It’s a solid 2-3 hour adventure with the option to replay the rhythm games outside of the story for additional runtime if you’d like the top scores. It’s cute and will work well for the 8 – 14 crowd depending on how much you enjoy your coming of age stories. Feels like the start of a series too which would be welcome as I think there’s plenty to explore in this world which is hinted at but not explored.
Review copy provided by developer. The Fantastic Kitty Rue is out now on Steam.
The Fantastic Kitty Rue
A labour of love and quite charming in places, a few tweaks and patches will elevate the adventure sections.
Excellent art direction.
Varied gameplay means you'll be doing different things every 15 minutes.
Some issues around selecting objects in the point n click areas.
Hints at bigger, more detailed story but doesn't bring it.
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