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Blade Kitten Review

Blade Kitten Review

Publisher: Atari
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
UK Price (as reviewed): £6.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $15.99 (exc tax)

I've been playing Blade Kitten for hours and, if I'm totally honest, I still have absolutely no idea what is going on in this game. The story seems like a random amalgamation of the poorly explained and the oddly assumed, with a pink-haired cat lady in the fore who likes nothing more than to act flirtatiously between killing things and speaking in Internet slang.

Her name is Kit Ballard and she is a breaker, with a tail. She lands on a planet, where a robot tells her to catch a badguy, then a blonde girl in Renaissance-style clothing comes along, steals her breaker key at gunpoint, blows up her ship and then runs off. Kit asks the robot for help, the robot says no. Kit calls a floating sword out of the wreckage of her ship, then sets off after the blonde. Some police tell Kit she's entering a restricted area, so she kills them. Then she kills a lot more, pink tail wagging as she goes.

*Blade Kitten Review Blade Kitten Review
Original Text: Kit Ballard is a Felion Breaker who has lost her Breaker Key to some NOINK

That's how Blade Kitten opens; with a bewildering torrent of information that involves more inexplicable jargon than you could even expect to hear pouring out of the Bit-tech labs on a bad day. What is a breaker? Who is the blonde woman? Why is that sword floating? What the hell is going on?

It turns out that there are vague answers to these questions, but they are buried in the last few pages of the 36-page long 'How to Play' section of the main menu and, more often than not, the answers aren't all that helpful anyway. A breaker, for example, is “a special sort of bounty hunter sanctioned by the official alliance of breakers, formed after the last frontier war” according to the glossary. It's not clarified how they are special, nor what the frontier war was about.

Crucially, it's not explained why any of these facts are relevant or why the word 'breaker' is used in-game when the word 'bounty hunter' would seem to suffice for most of the PR material. If she's just a bounty hunter then why is the game making up its own words?

*Blade Kitten Review Blade Kitten Review
Translation: Kit Ballard is a cat-girl bounty hunter whose wallet is stolen

Allow us to save you some frustration and offer the decrypted version of the plot: Kit Ballard is a bounty hunter who is probably based on a bunch of randomised keywords thrown out by a over-caffinated focus group. Her wallet is stolen by someone at the start of the game, so she tries to get it back, before returning to work as a bounty hunter.

I wasn't joking about the keyword thing, by the way. It's as if marketeers from almost every loathable niche and sub-culture came together to create a Frankenstein's monster of trends. Kit herself is all at once a cat-lady, a bounty hunter, a parkour enthusiast, a sword fighter and flirt, with pink hair, a menagerie of squeaky little creatures and a penchant for using Internet gaming slang. She admonishes players for 'epic fails' when she dies, or praises them – 'gratz on the ding!' - for every secret discovered.

In a way, Kit's character and world feel almost a little patronising – like the player is being talked down to, but we can't tell if that's because the writing is bad or because Blade Kitten is aimed at a younger audience. The action-platforming is easy enough to suggest the latter, but the writing and pace seem like they'd outwit a child. The result is that Blade Kitten feels as confused about its audience as its audience is about it.