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SummaryWarmly recommended if you like cute cats. Also a pretty good platformer, albeit short.
The GoodThe Purring Quest is a niche game, aimed at a particular audience, the content, the “characters”, and the aesthetics mattering more than the actual gameplay, to the point that the primary genre could probably be said to be cute cat game and not platformer. And from that point of view it definitely delivers, with lovely graphics, accurate animations, fitting music, relevant messages sprinkled throughout the game and, for those who are into that sort of thing, appearances by several famous Internet cats. And I’ll also mention here that the main screen updating according to your progress is another nice touch.
The above may even be all that needs to be said about the game, as long as it’d be playable, which it is… Even if it might not have been at launch, since on top of some bugs and other lesser issues, the initial release only included the high jump mechanic. But double jump, which I for one would consider the game unplayable without, was added in version 1.4, released five weeks after launch, which is a pretty short amount of time to alter the gameplay in such a significant, and positive, manner. And since I’m reviewing the fully patched version I played, which allows the player to choose between the two jump mechanics, so I obviously chose double jump, I won’t hold the game’s launch state against it, especially since it’s an indie game, made with limited resources and for a cause.
Still on the matter of the actual gameplay, but from another point of view, it must be said that each of the five stages differs from the others, not just in terms of the setting, but by introducing new elements that fit together well and altering similar ones in ways that need to be taken into account, so the game never gets dull. There are mice that just walk, frogs that hop and pigeons that fly and may also drop “bombs”, if you know what I mean. There are objects to hide behind and objects to move, and some to knock over just for the fun of it. There are crumbling, moving and bouncy platforms. There are creepers, sprinklers, windows that open and close, and old ladies that peek outside. Eventually, there are even cameras and lasers. And the end of each stage is completely different from the others.
Seeing as some types of damage, such as being struck by small animals or objects, don’t break your progress but others, such as being caught by dogs or falling, send you back to the last checkpoint, some developers might have been inclined to send the player back to the beginning of a stage after losing all lives, with more sadistic ones even erasing some or even all progress. In The Purring Quest, however, you continue from the last checkpoint whether you lost one life in a “bad” way or all of them, the difference being that if you lose all lives they’re restored at that point, so losing all lives may even be recommended sometimes, especially before tricky sections where you’re likely to take a lot of “regular” damage, like the end of the first three stages. And if you find after completing a stage that you missed some collectible, you can restart it and only get what you missed, not even needing to reach the end again.
The BadStill, I’d be nice if all progress would be saved, as in killed mice or frogs and, in most cases, moved objects. And I’d have definitely wanted to be able to save anywhere, checkpoints that get to be too far apart meaning not only that you may have to go through too much of a stage again if you take “bad” damage or lose all lives, but also that you can’t quit whenever you may need to. And only having the single, automatic save means there can’t be more people playing the game on the same account.
Then again, it’s a short game, and while I wouldn’t have wanted the stages to be any longer, considering how different they are from each other I’d say the game wouldn’t have overstayed its welcome if each would have had a second part as well, adding more content even if more truly different stages wouldn’t have been feasible. Of course, that’s not really the point of such a game, which I’ll say again is mainly meant to be cute and support a cause, and others may prefer it as it is, but in my view it would have been better that way.
Moving on to the negative aspects of the gameplay, I’ll just get it out of the way and start by saying that the high jump mode is basically unusable, so I pity those who wanted to play the game soon after release, before double jump was added. But it was added, so that doesn’t matter anymore, what’s more important being that carrying momentum in jumps makes them imprecise. That’s another thing that I gather was worse at launch, and the fully patched version makes quite a few allowances compared to what being truly realistic would mean, the fact that I managed to finish the game relatively quickly being proof enough of that, but imprecise controls in a precision platformer tend to cause frustration.
And, speaking of frustration, the end of each of the stages can definitely cause plenty of that. The first may be a rather typical boss fight, so after figuring out what you’re supposed to do it should go well enough, but the second is tricky even after you do figure it out. Not sure if describing exactly what I’m referring to would count as a spoiler, but I’d rather not and just say that even if you do what you’re supposed to be doing, it often won’t work, so you just have to avoid losing all lives until it does work enough times. And then you have a particularly tricky platforming section at the end of stage three, which you’re likely to need to keep trying until you learn well enough, since I doubt anyone can simply react in time. And another tricky platforming section comes before the end of stage four, but in that case the actual end is completely different and the one part of the game that didn’t seem to fit at all with the rest, since we’re talking about a rhythm game, and quite a long one at that! At least you’re allowed several mistakes in that rhythm game, while at the end of stage three there are a few spots where you can stop and rest, but the end of stage five takes everything away, each mistake meaning that you have to start over, and a few collectibles pretty much requiring you to sacrifice the chance to complete the stage in that run, so all you can do is keep trying, hoping to get a bit farther each time and learn it so well that the correct moves pretty much become muscle memory.
Otherwise, I did find myself wondering why seven lives instead of nine. And how high you can fall from without losing a life. Or why there’s no option to replay the ending, not to mention one to see the credits, needing to go through that tricky part at the end of stage five all over again if you want to do so. And I’ll also add under negative odds and ends that the foreground scenery can sometimes obstruct the view and that Kimchi gets bored quickly if idle and the first command given after one of those animations starts is ignored, which is quite a problem if you need to wait for just the right moment to move. Since that may make some sense in a way, I’m not sure it’s a bug, but the one clear remaining bug I found has to do with hiding from dogs after they spot you. Usually it just requires a bit of patience, the screen remaining black for a few seconds before the game recovers and you find yourself back at the last checkpoint, but once, when Kimchi also for some reason ended up “hiding” next to the hiding spot and I tried to quickly get out and hide again only to be spotted by the dog in that brief moment, the dog ended up turning back and forth in front of the hiding spot and Kimchi wouldn’t come out, so I was stuck and had to force the game closed.