Blade Kitten is an episodic platform game series based on the comics from the same name. This review looks at the first of a two part instalment, and as the title somewhat suggests, the game’s story surrounds a blade, and a kitten... well a half cat half human bounty hunter called Kit Ballard who happens to have a large sword, to be precise. The game takes the form of a 2.5D platformer, keeping you to a 2D plane whilst giving you the added depth to create immersion into the world around you.
Kit Ballard’s tale is simple enough. Being a bounty hunter she is assigned the task of hunting down a character named Terra-Li on the artificial planet Hollow Wish. As always with such simple endeavours things never are quite as they seem and before long Kit is uncovering the planets true secrets. Whilst the cutscenes and voice acting is top notch, don’t expect the story to blow you away as, whilst particularly dramatised, there’s little here to chew on. It might also be worth mentioning that aspects of the game’s story looks to reference the comics, so anyone wanting to fully immerse themselves should head over to them first.
Being based on a comic it’s understandable that the game has a fitting anime cel-shaded design. The game certainly packs a punch in the presentation department, showing off some great graphical standards for an arcade title. By far the highlight of this comes in the form of the games environments, taking you through many varied levels right from expansive green planes to tight bustling markets. It’s unfortunate that the character models and animations don’t particularly match this quality, particularly in terms of animation and generally fitting the game’s pace, instead of floating along with it.
As you navigate through these environments you will waylaid by a continual stream of enemies coming out of every nook and cranny, performing a set of quickly distinguishable and easily countered attacks. This results in the game’s weakest aspect, the combat. The game even goes as far as doing itself an injustice by introducing an achievement for killing one hundred enemies using a sliding kick – informing me that I can simply run at speed through a level, doing nothing more than pressing diagonal down and jump over and over. If only the enemies had a pinch of intelligence, the reasonable selection of varied moves and even blocking mechanics might have been of use.
It’s not all bad though! When not button bashing through waves of enemies the game shines best, leaving you to navigate the varied and attractive environments with fluid controls that let you jump, flip, slide and claw your way to success. A pleasant addition to your platforming abilities is that of being able to stab your sword into the floor, wall or ceiling and then grab hold of it either to root yourself to the ground, or to use it as a platform itself able to spin around the blades hilt and fling yourself to a height.
As you progress through the game’s many levels you will encounter a continual stream of currency, in the form of different coloured credits and even hidden additional unlockables. It’s nice to see the effort being put in place to reward those that explore the games levels, as throughout there will be many winding paths. Even more of a surprise is the credits actually have use, providing a store adds a great deal more depth to the game allowing you to customise your play style and character. Naturally I threw everything into upgrading my blade completely, but those who like the cosmetic touch will welcome the generous selection of costumes that can be purchased.
In conclusion Blade Kitten is a mixed bag, providing some fluid platforming with mediocre combat. Whilst the game never really blows you away, it never stoops to being anywhere near terrible. It’s certainly unfortunate that Kit’s first outing is one that is very forgettable and brimming with repetition, as there is certainly potential here.