Game: Heart Chain Kitty
Genre: Platformer, Adventure, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC)
Developer|Publisher: Oragamihero games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £7.90 | EU € 9,90 | USA $9.90
Release Date: August 20th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to NOVY UNLIMITED
Collect Them All
Heart Chain Kitty is a 3D platformer where you play a large blue cat who is searching for their missing parents. It’s a collectable adventure that takes inspiration from games like Banjo Kazooie and Mario Sunshine. The former being a game I have been very fond of since the good old days of the N64.
There is nothing quite like collecting all sorts of silly collectables like notes and weird birds whilst exploring a big game world. Does this unusual looking title have the paws to stand with the greats or is it just a little too weird for its own good? Let’s find out.
The main theme is exploring several large open environments searching for coins and heart pieces. This is not a collectable game that breaks you in easily. The game gives you objectives to complete which you can view in the menu but you are given absolutely no idea how to complete these or where to go. The level design doesn’t do the best job indicating where you need to go either, leaving the player a little bread trail to follow after its initial tutorial. Most of my time playing through this game was tedious backtracking trying to find where I needed to go. It felt very push-pull. One moment you’re on the right track discovering a new level navigating platforms and exploring. Then the next moment you are lost again, unsure where to go.
The game does provide a mini-map which does indicate points of interest with a !. But these act more as a very vague suggestion of where to go as opposed to pointing you in the right direction. You also come across a potato man now and then who offers you a map that will reveal coins and hearts in the area. Even with this assistance I still struggled to find things. Collectables are hidden in obscure places or are unobtainable as you haven’t unlocked a particular move yet. A lot of patience is required of the player to keep exploring and not switch off entirely. If you only have precious amounts of gaming time this probably isn’t a game for you.
If you do have the patience the game will surprise you with a few gameplay surprises. There are a lot of weird and unusual NPCs to talk to, many of whom have a few funny things to share with you. There’s also some decent variety in gameplay. Sometimes you will find portals that will take you to a 2D level. You can also ride on a rocket and take on a few boss fights.
The platform controls are ok. You can run, jump and swim. As you progress you can also unlock new abilities like a parachute to hover over air vents and a glove that shoots a small blast that can damage enemies and break walls. The camera for this game is horrible.
There were several moments, usually when climbing the side of a platform where the camera zoomed in too far and I just had no concept of where I was. You can adjust the camera but it works better in the larger open spaces only.
Unusual Art Style
This is a rare moment in reviewing where I have to say the graphics are kinda ugly in this game. Rarely do graphics ever have an impact on the score I give a game but this might be a very rare exception. The general art style of this game is quite abstract. The world feels like it is made out of modelling clay with blues and purples and weird greens mostly taking up the environment. It just looks a bit too weird and muddled, making important objects blend in and become hard to see.
The game’s performance was pretty good in TV and handheld mode. The games overall graphics also look very smeared on Switch. Slightly better on TV but very murky on handheld making the already murky environments even more uncomfortable to look at. This is an example of a port that has come over from PC that hasn’t translated very well.
Plenty of Content
If you are able to overlook the games many niggles then you will be rewarded with a lot of content. There are over 40 levels to discover, lots of secrets to find and the game even advertises multiple endings. It’s clear the developer has put a lot of work into this project. It just feels like it needs a lot more polish to make it accessible for a wider audience.
Conclusion – Have a Heart
Heart Chain Kitty is a very weird game. Much like unusual art pieces some will play this and have absolutely no problem with its unusual design. But it’s a design that just didn’t click with me. Confusing objectives and tedious exploration made this a game hard to engage with. This also just doesn’t seem to have ported very well to Nintendo Switch. Not unplayable by any stretch you just might need to have quite the open gamer mind and heart to get the most out of this surreal cat experience.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure