Monday, September 13, 2021

Kitaria Fables (Multi) Review

SPC enters the mid-stretch of September with a new review. Check out Kitaria Fables from developer Twin Hearts and publisher PQube. 

Not a cat-astrophe of a game, but you might not be feline fine with all of the grinding involved.

Kitaria Fables combines two tasty flavors--hack and slash combat with farming and crafting gameplay--to create one meaty adventure, though one not without an excess of grinding and backtracking. These two negatives, however, did not outweigh the fun I had with Kitaria Fables, but they will deter a sizable chunk of potential players from diving into the game.

There once was an event known as the Calamity that occurred in the world of Kitaria. Animals and monsters alike grew ravenous and aggressive, and now, in a more peaceful time in Kitaria, the Calamity threatens to reawaken. You play as a cat soldier who is sent to Paw Village by the Empire for a dual purpose: protect Paw Village's denizens and undergo an investigation as to what is causing the current aggression in surrounding animals.

The animal denizens of Paw Village welcome you with open arms,
hooves, paws, and whatever else they might have!

Kitaria Fables is a game of two parts. One is more enjoyable than the other, and that would be trekking and gallivanting around Kitaria, exploring areas, defeating enemies, and picking up their drops and loot. The other is taking care of a laundry list of tasks and quests that mostly require crafting to complete. 

Your character doesn't level up or gain experience from defeating enemies. Instead, your only reward is craftable materials and goods dropped by defeated foes. You use these materials to craft a litany of items, such as equipment like swords and bows as well as armor and accessories to boost your kitty's attack and defense respectively, and quest goods. Whether it's new equipment or quest-related goods, you're going to be doing a ton of combat to take down enemies, take their loot, and then make the appropriate goods to make any kind of headway in Kitaria Fables.

From colorful forests to grassy plains, oh, the places your cat will go!

For some, this will be an enjoyable process, even with the insane grind in play. For others (and I suspect most potential players), they will be easily and quickly put off by how much of the aforementioned grind is necessary just to make progress. This is compounded by there being no universal item storage. Instead, each chest you store goods in is separate from the rest. With multiple chests around the world of Kitaria, that means a lot of traveling. Forget where you put an item you need? Well, then you unfortunately have to do even more traveling just to remember which chest has the item in it that you want. 

You're also given very limited pocket space to carry around items with you. Just two rows with two more that are unlockable through a nighttime seller in Paw Village. Therefore, storage becomes dicey relatively quickly in the game. 

You can also farm in Kitaria Fables, and this is incredibly simplistic. You till the soil, you plant crops, you remember to water daily, and in a few in-game days, the crops are ready to be harvested, either to be sold for money or delivered to complete the conditions of a given quest. Really, farming is nice as an option to have as an alternate way to earn money, but by an early point in the game I was better served to simply sell the loot I received from monsters rather than farm at all. It quickly became redundant and pointless to bother farming at all, unlike in a game like Rune Factory that blends combat, gathering materials, and farming in a much better way.

You have plenty of room to farm, but whether you'll actually need to use it is another thing.

Combat is a strong suit for Kitaria Fables, and is indeed my favorite part of the game. You start out with a simple sword, but you can eventually acquire a bow to use instead. I stuck with my trusty blade and upgraded it to the point where I would cleave enemies into submission quite quickly, save for boss-type foes. Enemies have tells, and this is similar to the Trials of Mana remake, where a red zone will appear to show where an enemy's attack will land. It's as simple as moving out of the red zone or better yet, rolling out of the way (since the invincibility frames for this evasion maneuver is tremendously generous), to avoid the attack.

You can set a special move or magical ability to each of the shoulder buttons,
 and a consumable dish or item to each direction on the D-Pad.

Still, that's not to say Kitaria Fables is an easy game. It's quite difficult starting out. As you grind money and materials to make better equipment, the game becomes much easier. Understandably so, of course! I eventually earned a pair of wings that granted me a 10% lifesteal ability, meaning that for every physical attack I did, I got 10% of whatever damage I delivered to a foe restored to me. This made me borderline invincible, rolling or not! 

I enjoyed how equipping weapons and armor didn't just serve as a noticeable upgrade to my cat's stats, but it was also noticeable in appearance. Equipping a new sword, wearing a new piece of armor, headgear, or accessory would show on my cat soldier as being worn in all of its lovely glory. I adore touches like that, and that certainly made the grind more worth it for me, other than utterly decimating enemies by the endgame. 

Be extra careful around enemies with an aura like this one. They're quite powerful foes,
but the rewards for beating them are rather worth the effort!

Kitaria Fables is a bit of a lengthy adventure, taking me around 20 hours to fully complete, or at least earning all of the achievements from completing every quest within the game. That understandably took a lot of grinding, crafting, backtracking (and unfortunately, the fast travel mechanic still leaves a lot of running around to be found), and countless hours beating down the same enemy over and over hoping for enough drops of what I needed. Many will call this busywork or just work in general, but I found it oddly therapeutic and enjoyable. 

"Snow" time like the present to make your way through this frosty mountain!

At the end of my 20 hours with Kitaria Fables, I found myself having played some marathon sessions of over five hours at times. There's certainly a "let's do one more day" or "let's do one more quest" type feeling I got from this game. There is definitely no shortage of things to do to preoccupy yourself in Kitaria's whimsical world, whether that be monsters to slay, materials to craft, treasure chests to open, bosses to battle, dungeon-like areas to explore, and quests to complete. You'll be doing all of this with a hefty focus on grinding and backtracking, too, so if you're not of the right mind for an experience like this, you need not accept your invite to Paw Village. Sure, you'll probably be put on the Empire's bad side, but at least you won't have to do busywork--whether enjoyable (like it was for me) or not.

[SPC Says: B-]

A code was received by SPC from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

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