Catmaze Review – LadiesGamers

Game: Catmaze
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows & Linux), Xbox and PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Redblack Spade | Ratalaika
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $9.99 | UK £9.99 | EU € 9,99
Release Date: September 9th, 2022

Review code provided with many thanks to Pr Hound.

A Video Game Fairy Tale

Catmaze is a cute little 2D adventure title with a fairy tale flavour that will no doubt scratch the itch for fans of the genre. 

You play as Alesta, a young sorceress with a heart of gold. You begin the game looking for some special grass to cure her mother. But as is the way with video games, what starts as a small fetch quest turns into a grand adventure taking Alesta through multiple fantasy locations. The story is presented in short text-based cutscenes. There are many characters to encounter and interact with, to learn more about the fairy tale-style world. I found Alesta to be a touch too goody-goody for her own good, but, this didn’t deter from the game being a grand adventure on a quest against impossible odds.

The world itself is inspired by Slavic Mythology which I’ll be honest I don’t know a lot about but sure want to learn about now. The presentation is a familiar pixel art style but this is another great example of a developer adding lots of attention to detail. As you venture through forests you will see small pixelated birds fly off from the trees and dark gloomy caves are lit by small lanterns. It’s a world that feels alive and quite magical.

LadiesGamers Catmaze
Follow the cat to something special

Familiars do the Work 

As formulas go Catmaze follows a typical 2D adventure game formula. Explore a large map which you can track with a push of a button. You will often encounter areas and items inaccessible until you find the correct item or ability to access it. You can also collect items to increase your health and magic bars. The further you make it through the game the stronger you become, making you a sorceress not to be messed with.

A design feature that makes Catmaze stand out is the use of familiars. These are little animals like bats, hedgehogs or spiders which perform a short-range attacks and cast magic spells. Alesta just stands there while you get the familiars to do all the work, I guess she still has to walk and jump through locations. More familiars are captured through the game allowing you to customize your preferred loadout for attack and ranged spell. Spells will cost MP but this is regularly dropped from enemies along with coins. Should you still need a boost you can purchase potions to top up your health and magic as well as temporarily buff your stats or transport you back to the last save spot.

Use Amulets

Another unique feature is the use of amulets. These are hidden throughout the game and provide stat buffs like attack strength, provided you collect a sufficient amount of white orbs dropped by enemies. But if you take a hit, it will drop the amulets’ effectiveness until you collect more orbs again. This makes enemy encounters more meaningful, encouraging you to take your time instead of simply rushing through. Fortunately, the game presents a wide variety of enemies from mushrooms to slime monsters which suit the fairy tale. Of course expect the odd boss encounter, just make sure you have the right equipment with you before you jump in. 

LadiesGamers Catmaze
Don’t worry your familiars will defeat the evils

Extra Spices

Catmaze has moderate difficulty with the overall experience. The game doesn’t provide any additional difficulty options or accessibility features. In combat, the difficulty tends to spike when you visit a new area only to then soften when you find a new item and upgrade.

I did hit quite a few walls where I wasn’t sure how to progress. The game doesn’t exactly spell out your next objective, but by checking your map you can get an idea of areas you are yet to discover. I did have a sense of enjoyment in exploring every corner of the map for secrets, even if it did involve a lot of backtracking. Save points are most frequent, presented as fountains which also fill up your health and magic bars. Just remember to actually save because if you die you will only continue at your last save point. There are no checkpoints.    

LadiesGamers Catmaze
Some downtime in town to take on some side quests

Conclusion – Casting a Spell

Summing up Catmaze initially feels like a pretty by-the-numbers 2D adventure game which ticks all the right boxes. I decided to rate it a little higher though because I just found this adventure a little more memorable than others. This was helped by the unique use of familiars to attack you and cast magic spells. The presentation has a certain magic to it which really sucks you into the fantasy setting. I then became more impressed once I heard this game was developed by one person. It seems like not a week goes by when we don’t see a release of another 2D adventure game but I’m pleased to report Catmaze is one of the good ones well worth your time. 

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot

I like it a lot

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