Kitaria Fables is a game about crafting and farming in an Animal Crossing-esque village. Your character is a cat, so it’s actually somewhat appropriate that you’ll also be murdering pretty much everything in sight. None of my cats ever figured out how to swing a sword, but I’m sure if they did, they’d be legendary warriors too.
There is a mild undercurrent of hype around Kitaria Fables. Everyone’s looking for the Animal Crossing successor, and anything that promises a similarly good time with more flesh on it is drawing some attention. Hokko Life is another Early Access indie title trying to scratch that itch and falling short, so how does this one stack up?
Well, to be honest, it kind of feels like the reverse of Stardew Valley. Where Stardew is primarily a farming game with a basic combat system tacked on, Kitaria Fables is an action adventure with farming elements attached. Yes indeed, you can actually just outright skip farming right now if you want – it’s that basic. Just plant the crops, water them, come back in a few days once they’re done and sell them. You’ll miss out on some income, but that’s pretty much it.
Here’s how it’s laid out. You’ve got your farm, attached to the game’s main hub. The hub contains a blacksmith who’ll upgrade your weapons, item vendors, and a character who can prepare food for you. The farm has a house where you can sleep, save and change your appearance, and this is basically how it stays. Both the farm and hub town feel kinda static and unmoving – while the character sprites are cute, there’s no emotional connection to them beyond that. You don’t have that many options when it comes to farming, and you can’t customise much at all.
Kitaria Fables‘ strength is the size of the world outside your town. For those of you looking for Animal Crossing or 3D Stardew Valley, you’re gonna be disappointed – but at any time you’re free to go out into the world to kill monsters and plunder dungeons. The dungeons themselves are pretty straightforward, but fighting is good, clean fun – mixing melee, magic and archery together in small but fun concentrations. It’s not particularly deep by any means, but it does work well for fun’s sake. Which is probably a statement I’d make about the game as a whole right now.
The story is a barely functional string of dialogue that sets up mystery and intrigue to totally abandon it at seemingly random points. If you enjoy Kitaria Fables, it won’t be for the plot. The simple yet fun combat carry it quite far, but if you spend anything more than a couple of hours in it you’ll realise that this is a serious grind beneath all the fuzz and fluff. Upgrades are expensive – both in terms of currency and resources – so you need to dump a ton of time into it to get anywhere.
That’s not to say Kitaria Fables doesn’t have anything to offer, because it does – it’s cute as hell, it’s fun, and you can even bring a friend along in local co-op to hack and slash your way through the dungeons. It just doesn’t get any deeper than your first glance. By the time you’ve been introduced to each individual gameplay feature, you’ve basically seen all it has to offer, and from then on out it’s just the grind. You can carry out quests for the townsfolk, but nothing feels genuinely rewarding or like it’s really worth the time it takes to do them.
Kitaria Fables overall thoughts
For about half of the time I spent with Kitaria Fables, I’d somehow gotten the idea it was released in Early Access. I even went into this review thinking as much, until it dawned on me that no, this is the whole game. Farming just is how it is, those occasional disappearing questgivers aren’t teething problems, and the resource balancing is how they shipped the full game, not a developmental oversight.
I’m not sure if there’s work still to be done on Kitaria Fables. I’m sure they’ll iron out the bugs and refine the experience in little bits, but I don’t know if they’re going to make any major additions. If not, this game could potentially not have quite enough for anybody. The social features are nonexistent, townsfolk one-dimensional. Farming is incredibly simple and doesn’t feel satisfying long term. You aren’t building something – you’re just mindlessly making money in the hopes of getting further, and that’s a bit too close to reality for me.