Kathy Rain is point and click adventure game, inspired by the genre from the 90s. It attempts to connect with point and click games from the time by actually setting the game in the 90s, making sure that the plots, settings, and puzzle solving, stays in line with older point and clicks. This genre has gotten a resurgence, especially for indie games, so how does Kathy Rain stack up?
Kathy is an apathetic journalism student who finds out about the death of her estranged grandfather. She decides to go to the funeral, and in the process reconnects with her grandmother. What she uncovers is unexpected, her grandfather was in a mysterious accident, and in a vegetative state for years. Kathy begins to investigate his death, and in the process discovers a conspiracy, involving a cult, and many other people in the small town she once called home.
Kathy Rain does a great job of honoring old school point and click games, while still feeling like something fresh and unique. A lot of it has to do with the great work spent with writing, characters, and voice acting. Kathy herself is an interesting character. She is a tough, and clearly troubled, young woman. Digging deeper though she is also very caring and passionate when she finds the right thing. Surrounding her are a number of unique, and compelling characters. Everyone, even the most background of characters, have their own personality points. It really helps to sell the overall experience. My biggest issue with the title character is the “not like other girls” complex that is given to her.
Voice acting is on point. Every person does an amazing job. All voices are unique, and the only “stiff” performance given was clearly meant to be. On top of that the soundtrack is wonderful. All the songs are well done, and it’s a treat to listen to. Point and click games can take a long time, as such you can occasionally get sick of the music. That never happened with Kathy Rain.
The story itself is intriguing, though goes a little further towards the supernatural than I would have personally liked. It starts as a seemingly simple investigation, but as each clue is revealed yet another piece of what ends up being a rather massive puzzle is given to us. As time goes on I found myself completely blown away by how complex the story was, yet how interconnected everything seemed to be. As each day passes (there are a total of 5) the game pushes into the supernatural more and more. I would have liked to see the case more grounded in reality, but that is personal preference. The story is fleshed out, and remains entertaining all the way. So despite what I might have wanted to see, I can hardly complain about what I got. There was one part of the story that greatly bothered me however, and you can see that complaint below (it is tagged for spoilers).
The gameplay itself is solid. There are not the standard “push, pull, etc” that you see with most point and click games. I actually really liked this, because the game play is boiled down to the basics. You interact with what you can, and can combine things in your inventory. Otherwise pretty much everything comes down to the basic ‘you point, you click’. The game instead focuses on having a wide range of puzzles with these simplified controls. Some include finding number combinations, you have to put together a fake voice message in order to call and fool someone into giving you information, you even at one point help a computer hacker. The variety of puzzles is nice, you never really feel like you are repeating anything. The biggest issue is the difficulty difference between them. Some puzzles are easy, almost too easy, while others can be extremely frustrating. It remains entertaining overall, and one of the more enjoyable point and click games new or old.
I do have a few complaints, but other than one major issue those complaints are few and far between. The game is entertaining, both gameplay and story. Point and click fans will enjoy how it honors the old, but still remains new. People new to the genre will not go wrong being introduced this way. I am extremely hopeful that the implied follow up happens.
SPOILER and WARNING
I do have to complain about one point though. The issue of abortion is brought up, and frankly mishandled in my opinion. With such a sensitive issue there needs to be great care in how it’s dealt with. The implied guilt, as well as the actual depiction of a child were problematic to me. The ending of how it’s dealt with I was fine with. I feel subjects like this are about more than just a conclusion, but are a sum of their parts. In the end it was handled well enough that it didn’t ruin the experience for me, but I would have preferred it be left out.