The name actually owes more to Blade Runner than anything else, the main character being a bounty hunter cat-lady called Kit. Not the kind of cat-lady that lives in that ramshackle house down the road, who sits inside perfecting her squint. No. The kind of sexualised cat-lady with furry ears and a tail. Aye, the ones that were explicitly invented so that internet commenters could make jokes using Naughty Word of the Year 1999, “pussy.”
It would be very difficult to explain the story behind Kit’s adventure. The sales blurb pitches the game as “you are a bounty hunter, go bounty hunt innit.” The cinematics are a touch more cryptic. It opens with an English blonde girl stealing your contract but before long that’s all done with and you’re simpering around helping nuns and farmers for no discernable gain. Kit is a rubbish bounty hunter. At one point the game forces you to help the very soldiers that have been firing at you the whole time. As part of a story arc this is actually a nice touch. Or it would have been if the soldiers didn’t continue trying to laser your whiskers off. It’s nonsensical and difficult to follow any character’s motivation.
The inexplicable plot is only made worse by the cringe-worthy dialogue that feels like it belongs in a 80s kids cartoon. The visual style suggests that this is exactly what it wants to be. (It is worth saying that the artistry of the characters, creatures and environments is very likable. Aesthetically, it is a barrage of colour from inventive artillery. That’s what you get when you use an established medium as inspiration, in this case Steve Stamatiadis’ webcomic.)
Here lies the problem: it is impossible to tell who this game wants to appeal to. Only stupid children would find the dialogue funny. Only Uri Geller would understand the plot. And only those inclined to bestiality would find the characters compelling. It’s a mindjob. And not a pleasant one.
The platforming is standard. All the usual functions are there, ticked off the checklist on the back page of The Big Book of Running and Jumping and Stuff. Double jump, close quarters attack, slightly ranged attack, blocks, powered attacks. The different types of attack are almost enough to save the game from button-mashing tedium. In terms of simplicity, it would satisfy a kid. If, like me, you’re a grown-up with a grown-up job and a grown-up fridge full of grown-up leftover tins of chilli frankfurters in brine and your grown-up fridge magnets read “FuCk thE CabBage pAtcH KIds”, then this simplicity will translate to tedium.
The worst offence in platformers is rigid or sticky or clunky or clusterfucked controls. Thankfully, Blade Kitten is mostly fluid enough in its execution. Kit can climb on any surface simply by holding the directional button toward it upon contact.
The ease of this mechanic is something to be grateful for, considering the levels are large, sprawling affairs full of hidden routes and secret areas. Along with the visuals, the level design is probably the best thing about it. It feels inspired by old school 2D titles like Super Metroid. It could never live up to that measure of distilled fun but the influence does Blade Kitten some favours. The only irritating thing is when enemies will introduce themselves from the background, coming toward the screen and onto your path. Working along a single straight line is fine. It’s what platformers do. But when other characters are allowed to explore the depth of a level it is frustrating when you can’t do the same. Even Crash Bandicoot could slip off from the rails and walk in four directions. It feels like Kit is wearing blinkers. Either that or she’s just thick. She’s as thick as… I was going to say a copy of War and Peace. But War and Peace is for clever people. Kit is not clever. She’s as thick as… as The Big Book of Running and Jumping and Stuff.
It doesn’t help that when she runs she can be a bit slippery. As if the ladies and gentlemen at KROME studios based the game on a planet where all the floors are constantly maintained by a uniformed battalion of wax-gremlins. The only other possibility is that all the character research that went into Kit’s half-human, half-animelolcat was done on YouTube.
Blade Kitten gets a bit mixed up. The story is ludicrous. It is guano-insane and doesn’t flow well at all. Mechanically speaking, it is adequate and the art and level design can be very good at times. But in an age when platforming has so much more to give, with titles like And Yet It Moves and Trine, no sane adult would buy this. All the elements that can keep kids occupied are there. And yet, even kids can do better.
MLG Rating: 5/10
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC) Release Date: 23/09/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Blade Kitten for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days on a PlayStation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.