Kitaria Fables comes from the makers of Cats Quest 1 and 2 – both excellent games for RPG-lite hack and roll gameplay and cat puns. Kitaria Fables transitions these ideas into a more traditional RPG but mixes and matches bits of Cats Quest with bits of Stardew Valley. Whilst it doesn’t gel perfectly, the experience is fun if a little overly repetitive over time.
Playing as Captain Nyan (sadly one of the few puns in this game) you’ll be slowly thrust into a world rallying to stop ‘The Calamity’ – evil enemies turning against everyone. The story is a little muddled but does the job of serving up a world that is distilled down into small, succinct locations that gradually open up to you across the adventure. Each area has its own enemy types and whilst during the day they’ll often amble by and you can choose to ignore them, at night, they’ll attack.
Battles in Kitaria Fables follow a similar pattern to Cats Quest in that you’ll be dodging attacks (shown with giant red influence areas) and then going in for the attack. You can go melee with a sword or ranged with a bow and swap between them on the fly so long as you can manage the clunky in game menu to do so. The world doesn’t pause when in that menu so swapping weapons can be very tricky on the fly. You can also collect spheres which have different elements to them and create magic spells too. You can equip 4 at once to your controller shoulder buttons and elemental attacks shine in the desert or snowy regions. One of the tricky elements to the game is that some of the most powerful magic comes with narrow or unusual attack formations that require you to think a bit strategically before you spam them out. Magic power is quickly regained over time and spells do have cool downs. More often than not though you’ll be hacking or bowing your way around the screen.
Kitaria Fables works on a day/night cycle but you aren’t rushed into doing anything – its just when certain monsters appear, weather changes or crops grow. You’ll be mindful of this because there is no such thing as XP in the game. All your stat increases come from weapons, armour and additional clothing. To buy all these things you won’t need coins but items and these items are dropped by enemies after killing them. This crucial point is what will make or break Kitaria Fables for you. You’ll be grinding on certain enemies in hopes they drop some rarer items to then upgrade your sword and be more powerful. Whilst you grind away you may get frustrated that all this time you spend on not getting these items is just wasteful padding. As the world and fighting possibility are small, the grind feels very very real – even though the game is relatively small. I must admit I’d had enough of the system more than a few times during play and ended up not investing in additional armour and to chance my skill on the battle field instead.
Farming is also a mainstay throughout the game but I found this too a bit cumbersome and its tied to your inventory. Enemy drops, equipment, seeds and your crops all fit in the same inventory bag but its half full before you even begin doing anything. You’ll spend way more time than necessary in inventory management, dropping things into boxes that stay there forever. Many side quests revolve around growing crops and so you’ll lose track of what crops are stored where as there is no global view on what you’ve got. Cue lots of back and forth and plenty of swapping around of tools to make use of your farmland. I also found the detection of where I was harvesting a bit woolly too.
Indeed, one of my main takeaways for future improvements to the game is ‘this needs quality of life features’. A bigger inventory, global views on inventory, enemies that respawn without you having to leave/re-enter areas over and over, a menu that isn’t trying to solve lots of things at once that’s difficult to navigate. There’s a fast travel included but they often don’t take you to the most logical locations or they are just one way trips for you to then trudge back from. If work was done on all of these, my enjoyment would be hugely increased.
As it is, I did enjoy Kitaria Fables and found it cute and endearing. I preferred the Cats Quest games for their speedy, simplistic way of giving you an 8-12 hour experience that knows what it wants to be and is over with. Kitaria Fables takes the same gameplay that designed for a short and simple RPG and expects you to commit to it for a much longer period of time. That’s fine if the depth is expanded, the world is more intriguing and the systems more detailed. They aren’t in the right areas and so it keeps the game from greatness. You could choose to spend absolutely days here building up your world and garden if you wanted to but I found myself not wanting anything more once the main quest was complete. I think this serves a lesson to games who want to juggle lots of different systems to craft out exactly what the identity of a game is before going ahead with everything. This felt like some early fine tuning would have improved the game.
Fun? Yes. In short bursts though.
Review copy provided by publisher.
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