Blade Kitten Review
Blade Kitten didn’t start out life as a game. It began as a webcomic, written by Steve Stamatiadis, which grew in popularity and soon gathered a cult following. With this kind of status and the increased use of downloadable game distribution, the decision was made to bring this colourful yet deadly character into the hands of players across the globe.
The title follows the adventures of the pink haired, half cat bounty hunter Kit Ballard, who inhabits the cell shaded world of Hollow Wish. On a routine pick-up of her next target, another bounty hunter turns up to steal the order and from there chaos ensues. The storyline is rather interesting for a downloadable title and introduces many unique characters through the course of its fast paced narrative. These are all well fleshed out and despite some cheesy lines, are enduring and varied in their design.
The 2D gameplay is explosive and exciting to look at but once you peek a little closer it reveals itself as an incredibly simple game, featuring some decent platforming and very basic combat. The fighting is mostly handled through the use of the floating, mind controlled blade that Kit uses to slice through enemies or throw further forward for a ranged attack. Also included is a sliding tackle and grab move but these have little variation and reduce the conflicts to button mashing. Unfortunately this makes the game very repetitive and it feels like the idea of being half cat hasn’t quite been used to its full potential.
However where the game uses Kit’s feline abilities very well is in the platforming. Aside from being amazingly agile, fast and always landing on her feet, she possesses the talent of climbing walls. This isn’t just limited to vertical scaling and includes scampering across ceilings. While it’s true that you’d seldom see a real cat doing this, the sharp claws of Miss Ballad can seemingly dig into the environment and grip on to open up a whole dimension of gameplay that most titles neglect. This makes for some interesting moments and detours that lead players to bonus areas and encourage exploration.
The environments and enemies are varied and colourful but, despite the detours on offer, the platforming progression is surprisingly linear. It boils down to either moving straight forward or finding the switch that needs hitting to open up the way forward. Even when the game gives the players a rideable alien for certain parts of levels, it’s still a basic left to right progression. The boss battles also feature a tried and tested hit the weak point formula that just doesn’t feel as exciting to play as it could have.
One area of the game that’s definitely been concentrated on is the rewards. Players can collect the in-game currency throughout their travels and use it to buy health and stamina upgrades as well as new blades and costumes. These appear in both cutscenes and in game to show off the various characters in the Blade Kitten universe and also include a homage to the developers with a Ty the Tazmanian Devil costume. All of it feels like a nice bonus that wouldn’t appear in most downloadable games.
On the whole Blade Kitten feels like a big collection of great ideas yet not thought through enough to truly make them shine. While the storyline and attention to detail surpass most downloadable titles out there at this price point (£9.99), it’s the actual gameplay that lets the title down with its incredibly basic combat and lack of variety in the progression. If they’d have spent a little more time working on the core mechanics then this would have broadened the appeal vastly.