Back 2 Backlog: Cat Quest, State of Decay 2, Hand of Fate 2

Back 2 Backlog is our irregular-in-several-senses feature where we put three mini-reviews on one page; reviews of games released over the last year or so that we didn’t cover at the time, but that we now have an urge to say something about.

  • Format: PC, Switch (reviewed), PS4
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: PQube
  • Developer: The Gentlebros
  • Players: 1
  • Site: https://thegentlebros.com/catquest/
  • Game purchased by reviewer

Cat Quest is a cheerful little game for when you’re feline down. An isometric action-rpg that’s incredibly easy to pick up and play, and put down again; especially on the Switch where you can paws it whenever you want. It’s not purrfect but it’s very enjoyable.

You play as the dragonborn, a cat with dragonblood or something equally inconsequential that means you’re “special” and can cast magic. Your ship sunk and your sister’s been kidnapped by an evil white cat, which you’re furryous about, so off you go to find her.

When you’re not being taunted by the evil cat, your whole shtick is doing quests and beating on the local wildlife. Some of these even use magic, like the foxes, wyverns and sheep, that ewe have to fight. All enemies telegraph their attacks with bright red circles or silhouettes for magic attacks; so it can be repetitive dodging the same enemies in the same way over and over again, but it’s a fun enough loop that we don’t mind.

Equipment is interesting in that it gains power through leveling up by finding more of the same, making you change weapons and armour based on what feels strongest in your arsenal. They only differ in stats and appearance, so it feels easier to adapt on the fly than similar games. Magic is also fun but the fire spell you get at the beginning is just too good to want or need to replace.

What it lacks in complexity it makes up for by being fun, amusing, and short enough that it doesn’t dragon. A new canine-filled area has been teased if the game sells well enough, so hopefully they can milk this game for an expansion or two without us having to hound them for it.

 

 

 

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Developer: Undead Labs
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site: https://www.stateofdecay.com/
  • Game purchased by reviewer

More of the same is what we wanted but not what we got. Aping most other zombie survival games, it’s opted for giving as much “content” as possible in the form of randomised quests and survivors, and co-op.This works fine for survivors, because a team with a spread of skills and personality types makes for an interesting game. Randomised quests feel fresh when you first start but quickly begin to feel more like grinding for resources. There are plot-driven quests, but they relate to specific characters or leader classes rather than a focused narrative like the previous game.

Leader classes are a new step up for survivors after they’ve shown that they are an integral part of the group. Leaders give access to specific buildings for your home base based on whichever of the four types they are. Leaders get questlines that assume you have a particular playstyle, but it doesn’t take into account how you actually play the game. This meant we got a very aggressive climax to what was a very peaceful and cooperative community.

The worst addition are the plague zombies and their plague hearts. Plague zombies can infect your survivors with a horrible plague that can kill them, but it’s easy to cure this even if you have meagre supplies. Killing a plague heart kills all plague zombies in an area, but attacking them draws them in for a difficult and unnecessary-feeling battle.

It’s not terrible, but it feels homogenous by design and lacks what made the first game really stand out. There’s already too many co-op zombie survival simulators; this feels like it’s following a trend rather than breaking the mould like the first did.

 

 

 

  • Format: PC, Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Defiant Development
  • Developer: Defiant Development
  • Players: 1
  • Site: https://www.defiantdev.com/hof2.html
  • Game purchased by reviewer

A brilliant sequel through and through. It expands on pretty much every idea from the first game, then adds new twists for good measure. It expands, polishes and adds enough new twists that going back to the previous game makes it feel familiar but dated.

The first had you roam through what felt like endless tunnels of events culminating in a boss fight. This time around each quest has an objective or two that usually equates to more than “find and kill the baddie”. Saving a peasant from his overly zealous lover, desperately trying to find a Hermit in a massive rectangular map of cards, and trying to evacuate a city under siege by corrupted forces are just three of the new scenarios that the Dealer has for you.

Helping you struggle through these varied encounters are the companions, who not only assist in combat but also bestow additional benefits during gambits like an extra die to roll or slowing the pendulum in the precision minigame. They also have their own sets of encounter cards that you can use to follow their story, which culminates in an upgrade for them and lovely new encounter.

The combat has been tweaked to feel less button-mashy and slightly more tactical. This is due in part to the more varied enemies that you face, even if ratmen and lizardmen have been axed. Gone too are the traps which used to be more of a pain than anything else, but you’ll find that weaponry is best changed depending on what you’re facing. You can even earn new equipment by completing challenges attached to special weapons and armour.

It’s a sequel without drawbacks; everything has been enhanced in some form or another. We failed frequently, but always asked to be dealt a new hand right away.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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