Before I start the review properly I’ll give you some quick bits of information, it was developed by Clifftop games and published by Raw Fury Games and was released to the public on May 5th 2016. Anyway now that we’ve got that out of the way here are my thoughts about Kathy Rain.
When I first booted up this game on Steam I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get, I hadn’t heard anything about it and my fiancée had only bought the game because it was reasonably priced and she knows I like detective games. So unlike most games I end up reviewing which I have either played before or games that I’ve heard alot about this one was a complete mystery to me and I think that enhanced the gameplay for me. I really had no expectations, although when the loading screen popped up with that amazing, spine tingling music I knew that I was in for something special.
Now I like to be positive when I review things and Kathy Rain has a lot going for it but before we delve into everything that I loved about it I wasn’t to discuss some of the things that weren’t so good. Okay first off and I want to clarify with this point that it could easily be taken as I wanted more of the game…which i totally did but it just felt short. I mean it did take me a few days to complete but that’s because I was playing it for about an hour per night after coming home from work and even then except where I got stuck i felt like I was blazing through it. So yeah, I felt that Kathy Rain was a little too short for me, not that I didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth which I definitely did, and I’m not saying that it was poorly paced because for the most part I think it was paced well, but it just wasn’t long enough I felt like just as I was getting into it that was it all over.
Secondly and I will do my best to avoid spoilers here, there is an incident towards the end where the main character confronts some demons from her past which deal with a difficult choice she made, and I’d like to say now that my issue isn’t that the decision might be deemed controversial but rather that it wasn’t developed well enough. In fact and I’m being really careful not to spoil anything here but I’d completely forgot about a dream sequence earlier in the game which referenced the event and so the that part of the finale to the game really felt like it came out of nowhere. That being said I actually really enjoyed the final section of the game, it was atmospheric and was a satisfactory ending to the story, at least in my opinion.
Okay now that I’ve dealt with my issues with the game I can move onto what I liked about the game, first off the graphic style was great and at least to me it wasn’t just a pleasing nod to classic point and click games that we remember but I felt that it was meant to also reinforce the whole 90’s setting of the game. Whether I’m wrong about that or not I really liked the style which still looked good but tickled that nostalgia button just right. While I’m talking about the setting I feel I should mention something else, I had a chat with the developer Joel Staaf Hästö and he said that one of the reasons for setting it in the 90’s….and I’m kinda paraphrasing here…was that telling a detective story was far easier before be had internet in our pockets. As someone attempting to write their own crime fiction novel I can agree with that, oh while I remember if anyone wants to read the Interview I did with Joel Staaf Hästö who was nice enough to talk with me then click here.
Now I already talked about the soundtrack a little in my intro, the music that plays during the title screen was amazing, and it doesn’t stop there. The actually music throughout the rest of the game added to the scenes well and helped to build up the atmosphere perfectly. It wasn’t just the music that made this game great though, the voice acting was both impressive and very strong, now I hate to judge a book by its cover or a game by its look but I was even more surprised by how good the voice acting was when you compare it to the retro design because as anyone who played a game like this in the 90’s it was rare to get a game with even decent voice acting let alone something of this standard. I think what Impressed me most about the voice acting especially when it came from an indie developer was the variety, sure occasionally you’d do something and just get a standard ‘I don’t think this will work’ soundbite but more often than not when you tried to interact with objects you were treated to an entertaining piece of dialogue courtesy of our main character, Kathy Rain.
That’s as good a segway to talk about the characters as any, now I could go into great length during this section but I’ve been told that while not unenjoyable I tend to ramble when I write and so to avoid that I’m keep this relatively short. I really enjoyed the characters in Kathy Rain, even the background characters seemed more real than you’d expect. My personal favourites were Kathy herself who was strong, confident and sassy and yet all of that belied a very real and human vulnerability, of course Eileen Summers who was sweet, caring and relentlessly positive even after she was almost lost to the Old Gods and moving on from central characters I also loved Goober who could have been annoying but to be honest he was funny and likeable, sure he was down on his luck but you get the feeling he likes it that way and he has a hundred stories about how he got to where he is as well.
Now the mark of any good puzzle game are its puzzles and maybe I’m just not much of a linear thinker but at least three times to my recollection I was really stumped and just had to keep trying till I succeeded but I think the challenges themselves were good and that was more down to me being bad at puzzles. The puzzles themselves were largely enjoyable and well paced and honestly you felt quite proud upon progressing. Oh yeah, speaking of feeling a sense of accomplishment, this game has some really fun achievements you can earn, including one for just straight up messing with a homeless person if you are so sadistically inclined.
Now before I give my final rating I want to very quickly discuss the story, again hopefully without spoiling anything. We follow Kathy Rain, the titular main character as she returns to her childhood hometown of Conwell Springs for her grandfather’s funeral. When she arrives she starts to piece together the final years of her beloved grandfather and what happened to him that confined him to a wheelchair and left him unresponsive to the world. She puts her Journalistic skills to great use as she slowly the mysteries that Conwell Springs has to offer and faces off against her own demons at the same time. Of course few things ever go well, and she ends up embroiled in something that boggles the mind and makes her question the reality of the world around her.
Overall I give Kathy Rain a 8/10 and it earns that rating because it’s a truly engaging and enjoyable game that I will play again, but it’s not perfect. However I am excited for a follow up game which will hopefully improve on the weaker portions of the game and embraces the elements that made this one such a good game.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org