Review: Kay is such a pussy. Well, he is.
CATS: the Broadway musical. CAT scan. Catwoman. Garfield. People love cats, and sometimes are in love with cats. "Oh Mittens, you animal!" Cats ward off mummies. Cats appear on clothing designs and other merchandising. Cats are movie and animated personalties. Cats are everywhere. Compared to those dumb dogs who need walking all the time, cats are liable to potty train themselves practically. They're smart, they're cute, and they come with claws. As precious as these felines are however, when it comes to cute kitties and video games, they haven't had much success in the past. Bubsy comes to mind as one of the few notable, albeit annoying aspects about the history of cat-related video game franchising. With all but vacant spacing in this "cat-astrophe" then, Catcom (had to say it) waddles on the scene to mark its own spot on uninhabited shelf space. Curled up and purring, Legend of Kay wants your petting.
It must be raining cats and dogs outside...or at least cats, rats, and gorillas. Welcome to an animal-inhabited world devoid from human contact. Here amongst the Chinese seas lays the island of Peng-Lai where cats and other forms of animal personae have lived in harmony for generations. When the rat kind teams up with the gorilla kind and subjugates the villages and the world linked between every species besides their own, that's when Kay the cat breaks free from his village realizing the tyrannizing has gone on long enough. As a student of martial arts, Kay isn't alone with his training behind him. To confront the kings of rats and of gorillas in order to break the chains they've been tugging on his people and of everyone else's, Kay is a new hero on an expedition doing more than just coughing up fur balls -- he's turning his enemies into kitty litter.
Fighting, jumping, exploring and deducting just about sum up the gameplay experience driving Legend of Kay into the genre defining folds. But most of all picture action and adventure when you think about Kay, since this stands as a third-person split between the two. Though, whatever's on your mind, in the end you're probably not going to want to concentrate on Legend of Kay that much as the game is what it is. It's another generic "hero saves the day" game that's basic and flawed. And that right there isn't a winning combination usually, or...ever. Simply, you're a cat named Kay with kung fu running through your blood. You hop, you hit, you decimate your foes with an arsenal of spells and utilities. These exploits are guided by way of tasks Kay accepts from NPCs he'll encounter either throughout towns or somewhere along the pieces of mapped platform trails he'll traverse from one area to the next. Whether Kay's double jumping his way across a planked river containing harmful springing fish in need of avoidance, or zip lining and hamster wheeling his way through a misty swamp engulfed by bubbling tar, staged difficulties are in the books for our furry friend here.
Obviously targeted toward a younger crowd, Legend of Kay resorts to tactics commonly used by games of amateur reputation. Ease of play and presentation stirs with an odd mixture of cheap challenges made to push players, and frustrate them all the same. Kay's mission variety is on a short leash. The gist of dealie doings entails defeating enemy groups at given moments between the main menial tasks of freeing imprisoned vertebrate, fetching relevant progressive items, and activating switches to access treasured goods. Naturally, the difficulty grows onward from the start. Earlier on Kay will endure multiple timed warthog hoop hopping races, then later has to navigate a swamp for rescuing a series of amphibian eggs from burning huts. Neither hard nor entertaining exactly describes these exercises. You'll repeat certain steps if you fail. You'll lose life points if you fall. As Kay is limited to hauling six items at a time (either found or bought using collected coinage at stage vendors, for restoration and supplemental provisions), and only has so many traces of health to cope with, estimably you can tell how hokey the gameplay can get. Though hackneyed, the game isn't all that bad. Kay's vigor is upgraded over time, as is the amount of magic he can wield. When it comes to Kay's kung fu-ery, cat fights are more like Fancy Feast stirred into this dish of dry niblets.
Three is a dividend of nine lives, so Kay is prepared with three weapons over time. As Kay advances with a sword to start, he'll eventually add claws and a hammer to his knapsack. With these tools in hand, fighting for Kay becomes a chain-linking fury of cat against rat, against reptile, against gorilla. What's interesting about the game is that battles are multidirectional. Weapons can be switched on the fly, as Kay needs to rely on specific instruments for downing certain adversaries (claws won't work against armored alligators, for instance). While Kay's slashing and bashing his opposers, a combo system unlocks and allows for players to target baddies in any direction. First attacking (square) then flipping off to move onto the next enemy instantly (triangle) leaves Kay shifting gears a lot in somewhat challenging, albeit decent free-flowing combat instances. But weapons aren't the only tactic Kay has at his choosing. He can bust out a jar of hornets to swarm opponents. He can charge his weapon to unleash magical outbursts made of lightning. He can even roll behind the backs of his enemies, pick them up, and toss them about. In the midst of battle and journeying across the land, Legend of Kay isn't too rocky or too vanilla (especially with an awkward camera in tow that disables tilting up or down). It's an action-adventure lucidly approachable enough for anyone, even with some minor jarring.
Who needs four legs when you can just walk on all twos? Kay does just that, as he's the ninja-like orange cat who tumbles and soars around villains throughout animated spectacles. See Kay run. See Kay hop into mucky water and then out again wiggling droplets off. See Kay vibrantly cut foes with downward and uppercutting sword gustoes. Cut Kay, cut. Making motions known, Kay does alright. The problem with Legend of Kay, visually, is there's definitely nothing here to add to the history books of the greatest looking games out there. Every character model is appropriately cartoony, but unembellished. You've got wide-eyed expressionistic characters like Kay here, striped and sort of furry. Are all the hairs on his scrawny body individually rendered? No. Does Kay look more like a hardened kitty with a paint job? Yes. One size fits all where the different enemy types you face are each the same primary figurines. Levels are lightly peppered with textures to make out wooden planks and such, but at another illustrative state is mediocre. Through locales like a forest, a cavern, and a bog, trees and logs, rocks and rivers, weeds and mists decorate these habitats thematically in representation but sparingly in quality. If you're a kid, you probably won't mind as much. But for those in need of a bolder graphical fix, look elsewhere.
Grab some cotton balls if you've got them: 'cause your ears are going to burn. Where do bad voice actors come from, honestly? Does one just need to pluck people off the street at random, or perhaps do they all live at the bottom of some abandoned well you can easily tap? Whatever the case, Legend of Kay is bad like, "Hey, weren't you in an Olsen Twins movie?" Stupid, lame, crummy nobodies introduce flat dialogue in the keys of irritatingly high-pitched rats, phony accented Jamaican frogs, and Kay whose juvenilely stilted act does nothing but give cats a bad name. Aside from that, the rest of the sound design isn't so odious. The audio, for one, brings some clashing bangs and clangs from slashing away at pots to advancing on enemies. Aural noises come to ear, from water flowing to crickets chirping in the background. The quality in audio isn't great, though. It's there to do enough to get its job done, instead of wowing your perception of sound. Failing in these other aspects, it's the music talent that really enriches the game. Orchestral work sometimes in tune to Chinese-flavor spread to different instruments, like fiddles, trumpets, and percussion. Lively motifs and downbeat ones too apply to where they're needed to a degree of likeableness.