Kitaria Fables’ Throwback to Old School RPGs Mostly Works

An appealing amble around town

Key Takeaways

  • Kitaria Fables is a little bit farming sim, a lot of action RPG.
  • It's quite tough at times and unforgiving, but also compelling. 
  • Made by a three-man development team, it's quite the accomplishment.
Screenshot from Kitaria Fables showing bunny character asking f you are going to fight monsters today.

Kitaria Fables (Switch, Steam, PlayStation) is an intriguing game. Easily dismissed as part Stardew Valley, part Zelda game, it's not quite either. Not as richly developed combat-wise as anything Nintendo has achieved in the past, and not as much of a farming sim as Stardew Valley, Kitaria Fables is its own beast. 

It doesn't always succeed, but once you realize this is a game developed by a team of just three people, it's hard not to be impressed. Perfect it might not be, but it's still very much worth your time, even more so if you love old-school sensibilities alongside more modern RPG playing.

Cute With An Extra Dose of Cute

The first thing you'll think when you load up Kitaria Fables is almost certainly a variation on “Awww” or “So Cute!” This is an adorable game. A loose plot of good versus evil pops up, but honestly, it's fairly basic stuff. You play Nyan, a young adventurer who is trying to fix the world in the way only young RPG heroes can. 

Instead, what will beguile you about Kitaria Fables are the looks of its characters. Who can resist accepting a quest from a slightly grumpy polar bear, after all? It's almost reminiscent of a book series I read as a child—Redwall—where woodland creatures take on human traits and emotions as they battle evil. Again, it's not as fully realized in Kitaria Fables, but it's enough to make you more interested than if you were interacting with "just" humans. 

Dealing With A Change of Pace

Treasure chest from Kitaria Fables

Embracing old-school sensibilities, Kitaria Fables starts slow and keeps that trend up for a long while. It's a meandering pace but one that you can settle into. I dived into it straight from faster-paced Hades and that was a mistake. The key here is to take it slow and relax. Essentially, much of your time will be spent wandering around small locations and towns, before undertaking quests and exploring a little further afield to complete them. 

It's very old school in its approach. That means it's not always massively clear where you need to go next. At first, you can pursue some obviously laid-out quest lines, but after a time, you may find yourself having to explore and figure things out for yourself. There's not much hand-holding here—certainly not compared to more recent games that are keen to guide you every step of the way. That adds to the sense of calm in exploration but it also awkwardly juxtaposes with the combat system that we'll get into momentarily. 

It's also a little in contrast with the time gating of some quests. Because Kitaria Fables works partly as a farming sim of sorts, timing is everything. That relates to how long it takes for your crops to grow but it also affects who you can talk to about picking up new quests. Sometimes, you can talk to an animal who has nothing to offer you simply because you're conversing at the wrong time of day. That's not always convenient and there's a somewhat awkward system to negotiate here in figuring out how the game plays out. 

Talking of Awkward…Hey, Combat System

Combat in Kitaria Fables

While wandering around Kitaria Fables is kind of calming, coming across foes is less than relaxing. It's downright awkward starting out. In a way, this is because so many games simplify the process these days. In another way, it's because the title’s combat system is a little basic. Dodging is everything. You'll see a red radar display pop up to show where an enemy is going to strike and you really, really need to dodge out of the way in time. Taking a blow hurts and poor Nyan can't cope with much, especially early on. 

It's fairly simple to dodge but once in a while, you'll get complacent and pay the price fast. The key here is to use ranged attacks such as your bow or a series of spells that you can gradually gain as the game progresses. The combat never feels particularly satisfying, though. It's all a little too rudimentary and functional rather than genuinely fun to partake in. 

There's no leveling-up system here either so it makes it tempting to avoid battles wherever possible. I know I wanted to explore rather than constantly get caught up in fights outside of the dungeons where there's no other choice. 

Instead, you'll need to grind a lot to gain new gear by earning Paw Pennies (the game's currency), acquiring new items, and farming. Crafting is quite a big part of Kitaria Fables but it takes a while to truly get anywhere with. Again, guidance isn't huge here so you may find yourself searching online for suggestions of what to do and how to do it. 

Rustic in Every Way

Farming and crafting in Kitaria Fables

So, Kitaria Fables is rustic in nearly every sense of the word. Often rural in terms of location and aesthetic, it's also very rustic when it comes to the RPG elements it offers. The game feels at times like a small throwback to a bygone era that older gamers will still crave. It's a little weird how it's both relaxed and yet also a bit unforgiving but it works. Just about. While you'll be frustrated at times, you'll also enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you've earned your victories. It's that satisfaction that will keep you coming back for more, even when you sometimes want to toss your console or controller aside. 

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