Blade Kitten - ReviewArthur Kabrick , posted on 02 October 2010 / 4,610 Views
If the name of this game happens to call to mind the quirky and amusing comic of the same name on which Blade Kitten is based, please put that out of your mind. The similarities begin and end at the fact that you play as Kit Ballard, “Breaker” (bounty hunter), expert swordswoman, and if my eyes do not deceive me, eleven year old girl. But questionable protagonist aside, this is nothing like the comic. Where the comic begins with Kit battling some sort of giant mech (who is interestingly never seen in the game), the game begins with her walking through some sort of marketplace. Indeed, the game seems to be some sort of prequel to the comic, in which nothing of any major consequence takes place. But enough about the gaping holes in continuity here.
As mentioned above, you play as Kit Ballard, a bounty hunter with bright pink hair, an annoying voice, and a floating sword, aptly named “Blade”, which follows her everywhere (there are no restraining orders on the planet of Hollow-Wish). She is also followed by an adorable flying creature named “Skiffy”, whom she rescues from a soldier who apparently mistakes him for a rat. The majority of the game consists of platforming (which is actually quite enjoyable), with an irritatingly large amount of combat (which is not).
Kit can run and jump, and walk up walls and across ceilings for no adequately explained reason. She can also stick her blade, which she somehow always manages to catch, into the wall/ceiling/floor/enemy head on which she is perched for extra grip, with the L2/LT button. At its best, the platforming will have you clinging to walls before rocketing yourself upwards, perching on a post, and jumping away all in one smooth movement. More often, however, you will be slowly clambering up curved walls before realizing that you weren’t supposed to go in that direction at all, clumsily dropping down, and being mauled to death by sixteen enemies. Though, to be fair, the mauling doesn’t begin until around two hours in.
Despite the fact that Kit inhabits a 3D world, a strange condition means that she can only travel in two dimensions and her movement in the Z-axis is only through the occasional “telepop” (teleporter). This would be fine, if it didn’t mean that the player repeatedly jumps to platforms which don’t actually exist in the single plane of Kit’s existence, but rather a few centimeters further away. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bring this up, except for the fact that Kit is literally the only character who can’t move in 3D space. The enemies can, which means that a fair few of them are unkillable, but can still hit you, until you activate one unhelpfully-placed switch or another to kill them. Skiffy also can, and does so to gather hard-to-reach Hex pieces (Hex being the currency of Hollow-Wish).
The combat is, in a word, dreadful. You will probably utter a mental groan (or an audible groan, depending on how many people are in earshot) every time you see an enemy. It’s not too bad to begin with; just shallow. You mash Square/X to batter away at enemies with your blade (there is no hit detection, so it just goes through them and causes damage in a vague way), and if you’re feeling like a daredevil, you can press O/B to throw your blade at an enemy, which does very slightly more damage, and obviously has a longer range. This takes up energy, which is also used to shield while moving, sprint, and… well, that’s about it. Kit can shield if you hold down the Square/X button, which is somewhat pointless, because early in the game, just pressing Square/X will kill the enemy and take you out of harm’s way, while later in the game, shielding for even a few seconds causes dozens of enemies to swarm you, and kill you before you can even jump away and use one of the more powerful attacks. There are two of these: Kit can double jump and slam down with her blade for area-effect damage and scattering of small enemies, or (this is very hit and miss, far more often miss than hit) she can jump and press L2 to perch on an enemy’s head and somehow flick him into the distance, killing him, while floating in the air. She doesn’t even use her blade for this. If you attack enough enemies in a short amount of time (I think this is what causes it), your health bar glows red, and you can unleash a super-attack! This is quite a pathetic excuse for a super attack. Kit does some sort of acrobatic movement and kills perhaps two enemies who are in front of her. Again, no hit detection means that the animation isn’t even enjoyable.
From time to time, Kit can ride a Noot, a sort of pink horse-camel-chocobo-raptor, with the ability to run extremely fast and headbutt things. These are probably the best parts of the game, because you can just sprint through every enemy in the level and perform enormous jumps. Unfortunately, you do still have to dismount from time to time to clear the way for the Noot.
Hex, the game’s currency, which is left lying all over the place, can be used to purchase new blades (which aren’t really different to your first blade in any significant way), small increases in health and stamina which grow more expensive each time you buy them, and… costumes? Really, Krome? This is the best idea you could come up with? Buying costumes with hard-earned Hex? I could understand if the costumes were somewhat interesting, like a cow suit or a Darth Vader outfit, but when a dress costs the same amount as a new blade… well, I don’t even know what to think.
The story doesn’t really make any sense. Kit Ballard is searching for somebody named Terra-Li. She doesn’t seem to have any idea where Terra-Li has gone, but this doesn’t matter, because she finds endless numbers of distractions along the way, from retrieving a street vendor’s sausages to helping save the people who, before and after the level, are trying to kill her, in the process completely forgetting about Terra-Li. Conveniently, of course, the distractions slowly point her in the right direction, but it is a long and convoluted path. Kit travels through some quite confusing environments, but is never at a loss for where to go, because she can only travel left and right. You may get “lost” and end up in a treasure cavern, but blindly wandering and jumping in a random direction will eventually get you to your destination.
Some of the environments look quite interesting, but the levels seem to contain a fair bit of copy-paste. Several times, when you are paying a sufficient amount of attention, you will think “Hmm, haven’t I done this platforming segment before?”, but you haven’t. The developers were just too lazy to think up a new one, and hoped that people would be enthralled enough in the exhilarating platforming *cough* and deep combat system *COUGH COUGH COUGH* to notice. Some of the character models look quite decent, Skiffy in particular being adorable and delightful (Skiffy should have his own spin-off. It would be significantly better than this). Kit herself, however, is one of those people you just want to punch in the face over and over and over again.
Kit’s voice is a high-pitched squeal, and while some of her dialogue is actually quite intelligent, she’s such a blatant moron that the impression of wisdom doesn’t last very long. The music is a looping techno track which thankfully changes every level, and is a fair accompaniment to the gameplay. Quite impressively, the sound actually syncs with the movement of the characters’ lips to a remarkable extent for a cel-shaded game, but all of the generic characters have dull, monotonous voices which just make you want to skip the cutscene.
Blade Kitten is about 3-4 hours long, depending on how often you die and how lucky you are at choosing the right path. The gimmicks are interesting for perhaps an hour, but the game quickly descends into a boring, badly-designed action platformer. It’s not a good game, but it’s not really fair to say that it’s bad, either. For all its faults, it is still functional, and though it is annoying, there are parts where good design shines through all of the layers of mire which cover it. If you liked the comic, you should probably stay far away from this, because it’s nothing like the comic, but if you like the idea of playing as a half-cat half-human who goes on several dull adventures in the vain hope of eventually doing something important, you might just enjoy this game.
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