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Blade Kitten is first of two planned action platforming games from Krome studios based on a comic of the same name. At face value, Blade Kitten is a vibrant and exciting looking platformer. It has a cast of silly but likeable looking characters. It also showcases some colorful settings with pretty expansive levels designs. However underneath that facade, Blade Kitten is plagued by lackluster combat and some pretty awful gameplay flaws.
Our main heroine, Kit Ballard, is the standard catgirl fanboy’s dream. She’s very cutesy and likable. Her voice acting gets an A+. Kit makes her way in the world of Blade Kitten by bounty hunting. She has a floating sword that serves as her first line of defense against monsters and then some kind of flying manta ray pet thing she calls Skiffy. Unfortunately everyone else in the game is completely forgettable… Except maybe the racist Asian fish monster salesman, but I digress.
The game looks beautiful. Cell shading fits really well with the comic style of Blade Kitten. The entire game has a bright and cheerful theme to it. The menus, cutscenes and levels are all super colorful. There is a nice energetic soundtrack flowing through the background of the game as well.
The story is completely irrelevant. If the comics have any sort of coherent plotline or focus, it has been totally lost in the conversion. Something that looks like a pregnancy test gets stolen from Kit, she has to chase down some annoying blond girl to get it back, then for some reason you’re working for this army guy, then some giant monster chases you—more stuff happens but it doesn’t matter at all. I understand that going from point to point is how basic story telling works but the “story” in this case serves as nothing more than a 10 second cutscene between levels where Kit says something sassy and other characters no one cares about tells her to go to the next level.
However, story isn’t everything. I can nitpick that all day but where the game really starts to fall on it’s face is when it comes to gameplay. The most frustrating thing I can think of to do to a gamer is to completely lock them out when it comes to control. Enemies in Blade Kitten are normally easily dispatched. Instead of designing more difficult enemies to fight as you progress through the game, they just force more enemies in through the pipe. At many points in the game you will feel overwhelmed with just the sheer number of characters on the screen. The real kicker is that lots of attacks will temporarily stun you or knock you back. When being swarmed by enemies it’s completely possible to get stun locked from a full health bar to death. It’s frustrating and isn’t necessary.
Combat is basically a joke. You have one close range attack that you will be mashing the entire time and then you have a ranged attack that is primarily used for flipping switches that are out of your reach. So the combat of Blade Kitten just devolves into a primitive button masher. Watching Kit’s stylistic attacks is fun for a while but I eventually got so bored of the combat I just started running past all the enemies. Kit is so agile and her health recharges so it’s probably entirely possible to get through some levels without fighting any enemies.
The platforming on the other hand is actually pretty fun. Kit Ballard is amazingly acrobatic. She can easily flip and bounce over enemies. She can climb practically every surface or cling to any wall. I had a great time just flipping around seeing what I could do, like jumping off a platform and clinging to a ledge far down below.
The level designs were one of the rare things I enjoyed about Blade Kitten. Each level is an open field that encourages the player to explore every nook and cranny. While the main objective of each level is to find your way to the end, there are many paths that you can take to get there. As you progress through each level there are a number of chests and special items for you to find. I rushed through most of the levels and the average time for each was around 10-15 minutes. So there’s a lot of exploration to do here.
At the end of the day, Blade Kitten is far from a perfect game. However, if you can look past a few experience breaking things there is some pretty solid platforming action here and the levels are so vast they beg to be explored. Whether it be for time trials or item collection, there is a decent amount of replay value. However in this case the bad heavily outweighs anything they did right. Some game breaking mechanics just make Blade Kitten not fun to play. Combat is mindless button mashing and enemies can overpower you very cheaply. This may only be the first episode of Blade Kitten, but I’m not so sure we need a number two.
Blade Kitten is available now on XBLA, PSN and PC via Steam.