Cats are great! This is basically the foundation of Internet culture, at least the parts that weren’t created by corporate astroturfing. They’re goofy animals that are simultaneously stealthy and efficient killers. What’s not to love? Really, we should be surprised there’s not more games where you play as a cat. Kitaria Fables is here to try and redeem the gaming landscape a bit by allowing you to control a cat knight on a quest to farm, fight and grind up new gear for days.
We follow Nyanza von Whiskers – yes, that’s actually their name – an adorable little soldier from the Empire who comes to Paw Village to do good deeds. They’ve got a blobby pink friend named Macaron along for the ride as well. The aforementioned good deeds typically consist of monster-mashing and helping out townsfolk with whatever they need, but there’s definitely a dark cloud on the horizon thanks to a Calamity hanging over the air and rumors of Nyanza’s Empire oppressing magic-using animals throughout the land.
As you probably guessed, now it’s up to our feline hero to chase their tail, run around like a psychopath at random and cough up hairballs…er, save the day, I mean.
Kitaria Fables’ closest relative would probably be something like Rune Factory. It’s a cross between a farming sim and an action-adventure game a la The Legend of Zelda, though there’s definitely more of an emphasis on the adventure side of things here. Sometimes you’ll take Nyanza out adventuring, slashing up baddies and casting spells all over the place in order to help Paw Village.
Other times you’ll focus on keeping up your farm in order to make money that can be spent, along with materials you find while exploring, on gear upgrades you’re going to need as the monsters Nyanza battles become steadily more spooky.
This makes for a cute combination that works out pretty well. Nyanza’s actions are snappy and responsive, though if I could suggest a change it would be for them to step further just a tiny bit more when swinging a sword. Enemies leave MMO-style templates on the ground when they attack, so a well-timed dodge roll allows our feline hero to nimbly avoid most damage. Nyanza’s also able to learn a selection of magic and special weapon skills, so there’s a fair amount of variety.
Combat’s never especially difficult, per se, but if you don’t pay attention to farming and crafting you’re going to encounter trouble from a numerical perspective. I was reminded vaguely of Dragon’s Dogma, another action-RPG that leans heavily on math to stop skilled players from getting further than the game would like. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should be prepared to do some grinding as needed. There’s definitely an element of struggling in each new area to collect upgrade materials, but that also results in a satisfying sense of accomplishment when you reach a new tier of gear power that allows you to keep up.
As for farming, it’s a pretty straightforward affair. You’ll plant seeds, grow crops, then harvest your produce to use as ingredients in health-restoring items or sell your bounty for cash. This has all your favorite farming-sim elements like upgradable tools and a variety of seeds to plant and tend to, so while it’s definitely not the focus of Kitaria Fables’ gameplay, farming makes for a nice diversion from going out and bashing monsters.
Either way, look, farming or swordfighting aside, Kitaria Fables’ claim to fame is probably how adorable it is. Characters and enemies alike are almost universally adorable, particularly when it comes to Nyanza themself – not to mention you can customize Nyanza’s fur pattern to look like your own cat, which Monster Hunter has shown to be a winning strategy. Likewise, there’s not much to complain about from a writing and sound perspective. It’s all cute. Like cute stuff? You’ll love it. Got a friend who also likes cute stuff? Grab them for co-op play, then, because that’s a thing.
Kitaria Fables is definitely more of an action-RPG with slight farming sim elements rather than a balance of the two, but it’s a combination that works well without either side of the game getting in the other’s way. This makes it an easy recommendation for fans of the Legend of Zelda series or even the Mana games. While you shouldn’t come in expecting the depth of an actual Rune Factory title or such, Kitaria Fables offers a surprisingly lengthy chunk of cutesy RPG action with a side of farming at a pretty reasonable price.