Saucers of milk and balls of yarn are not needed.
The first and most striking thing to hit you when starting up Blade Kitten from Atari is the graphical style. This game is apparently based on a comic series that I have not heard of, but this did not have any effect on my enjoyment. However, this fact appears to have filtered through to the game and has resulted in a very bright, colourful, anime style to the game. It is obviously incredibly well polished and really does look great. The same applies to the voice work and sounds within the game, they are all done incredibly well and give the title a high quality feel.
But looking and sounding good does not a good game make. Blade Kitten is an action platformer based around the main character, Kit Ballard, who seems to be some kind of half human, half cat hybrid with bright pink hair. No judgement here. So, she is a bounty hunter and the game begins with her arriving to pick up a job and having the job snatched from her, and her ship blown up, by an irritating blonde girl in red. The chase then begins as our hero goes after the blonde.
As a platformer, the levels will involve lots of jumping, climbing and working out of puzzles. These all work very well and, for the completists out there, a huge number of hidden areas are strewn throughout each level to be found and explored. Along the way Kit will pick up HEX, which are the games currency, that can be used to buy and improve abilities and weapons. Searching through the levels to find every hidden area will reward the player with more HEX, which may not sound like much incentive. But at least the player will come away with that warm fuzzy feeling inside that they have found something hidden.
Following Kit through the levels is her weapon, a floating sword. Not that it isn’t very cool to have a floating sword, but when it comes to attacking, this mostly revolves around the sword flying through the air and slicing the enemies, which feels a little disconnected to me. I would have preferred her to actually hold the sword. Still, never mind. The combat is fairly straight forward and easy to master, if a little on the shallow side. The game also seems to have a reasonably low difficulty level, meaning that the various moves that Kit learns throughout are slightly pointless. The basic attack is pretty much all you need for the most part of the game, as long as copious button bashing is employed.
For all of it’s charm and the good intentions of the gameplay, there are a few problems that prevent the game from achieving it’s potential. The first problem that rears it’s head, and is obvious from the very start, is that Kit seems to move in slow motion. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but she does seem to move very slow. I don’t mean that she needs to hurry up, that can be achieved using the sprint button, but her movement seems to be very drawn out. Whilst this does not really affect the gameplay, it is slightly annoying.
The second problem, however, does affect the gameplay. The physics of the game suffer from a lack of precision and will force the player to second guess a lot of their moves. This is kind of a big deal in a side-scrolling platformer and the player will find themselves falling from platforms and miscalculating jumps until they become accustomed.
Another issue that became apparent was that the game is actually quite easy. As previously mentioned, the combat encounters will not offer too much of a problem, with the exception of the final battle. The platform aspect of the game is also fairly straight forward, once the physics problem has been taken into account, and the puzzles are not exactly taxing.
But despite all of this, Blade Kitten offers a very satisfying experience. There is a feeling that the game is part of something larger. This is confirmed by the fact that this is, in fact, episode one. The next episode, which will have hopefully fixed all of the above issues, promises to be something special.
Although there are a few issues here, none of them are game breaking and overall the game is a lot of fun. It looks and sounds great, the gameplay is enjoyable, if not ground breaking, and the story offers a lot of cheesy humour. It may not be an essential purchase, but if you are looking for a bit of light-hearted fun that won’t make your brain work too hard, then give Blade Kitten a try.