Title: Kathy Rain
Developer: Clifftop Games
Publisher: Raw Fury
Released For: PC (Win, Mac)
Reviewing: PC (Win) Version
DRM and DRM Free Versions Available
Released On: May 5th, 2016
Review Copy Received by Developer
Kathy Rain is a pixilated 2D adventure game set in the mid-90s. Kathy Rain is the story of a budding journalist in college who has to come to terms with her troubled past as she investigates the death of her recently deceased grandfather. The journey will take Kathy to the town of Conwell Springs, where she’ll begin to dig into a local mystery surrounding her hometown, taking her on a road full of emotional rollercoasters along the way.
Kathy Rain is about as standard a click-and-point adventure game could get. You have an items menu, a motorcycle to travel around on (more on this later), a notepad where Kathy will write down those important notes to talk to those in the town with, and of course, you have the ability to combine item a with item b along with the ability to view items yourself and ask people about certain items. Truthfully, it’s fairly plain, but that’s not inherently a bad thing. You’ll play as Kathy, run around, talk to people, solve a mystery, have a crisis, it’s bordering an old, Hanna Barbara Scooby Doo plot level of ham, complete with a certain character getting kidnapped. Just don’t go looking into something unique in terms of gameplay, because that’s not the hook, and the game doesn’t pretend for it to be the hook. There is one thing that sets the gameplay apart, which is the motorcycle.
The motorcycle allows Kathy to ‘travel’ to certain points of significance in the story. Along the way, she’ll travel to places like lakeside cabins, the home of her grandmother, and a mysterious church. It’s a neat feature but really, it’s more a way to hide the fact that there’s no actual ‘overworld’ and instead, relies on the motorcycle traveling acting as a sort of hubworld for the game. It’s nice for the developers because it means you don’t have to build a huge, giant city or town to explore. It’s sad for the players because (in most cases) those overworlds are used to add personality and character to both the game itself, and the characters. Since that overworld really only exists metaphorically (I.E, the town of Conwell Springs) you lose a lot of that character and personality along the way. You also lose out on any other side-quests or adventures because the lack of an overworld. However, the gain is that the game can focus almost solely on Kathy and her story. The question is, how is the story?
To answer in the best way we can, it lacks a clear focus. We won’t spoil any huge plot points, but the game’s story is it’s central focus, and it seems rather off. The story starts off rather well, even complete with the cliché 90s things we know and love, but the focus on who’s story we’re trying to tell seems split between the dead grandfather, and the granddaughter Kathy. This wouldn’t be bad, but at the very end of the game, it’s heavily implied that Kathy was close to the grandfather, when in reality, it’s never really shown in game. As a matter of fact, towards the end, you’ll find a very important note, and she replies “ He did try to fight for me, up until the very end” and we had presumed she was talking about the father, who walked out on her and her mother when Kathy was six. But (without spoiling it) Kathy then has an epiphany, and says less than 30 minutes later that she’s over the father, and we just had this really bothered look. Turns out, it wasn’t the father who tried to fight for her [from the mother], but the grandfather, and we were just really dumbfounded. We presumed that the father was the one because Kathy mentions the mother constantly lying about people, and the fact that the father walked out combined gave us the impression it would have been the father that would have tried to fight for her.
The game constantly tries to imply that the grandfather and Kathy had this really great relationship, but there’s few times where we actually get hints of it. Like, everyone around Kathy talks about the relationship, but it’s only mentioned once of ever having one. When something happens involving these two at the end, we just felt sorely disconnected by it all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the story still isn’t awful, it’s just above average. The thing is, besides this lack of focus, everyone else is interesting. All the characters are (if a bit generic) defined and unique, and everyone has the traits to be really interesting. The only one that feels rather ‘token’ is the main character, Kathy Rain. She has some interesting things that go on around her, about her, and to her, but she herself is rather ‘meh’. She does have a defined personality, and she does have a character arc (which we can’t say about a lot of recent adventure games have) but the character arc feels really forced towards the end and without the punk, rebellious teen character traits, the game gives almost an impression of a character that could have easily been replaced. She’s not bad to play as or anything, she’s just rather ‘there’ rather than being ‘THERE’ .
There’s also the token puzzle elements filled with token. They’re there, they exist, and they’re not bad or good, rather than being simply there. Some work, some don’t. On the plus side, most of them are short, fairly obvious, avoid (for the most part) Sierra levels of stupid and ridiculous, and mostly work with the story. None of them are particularly fun to play, but they’re certainly not bad as they could be.
Visually, the game looks well, and is fairly reminiscent of the Blackwell games. While Kathy Rain doesn’t have any particularly unique style, it does look nice and places well. It uses AGS (Adventure Game Studio) and plays in a weird resolution (thanks to AGS) . It works for the game, but modifying the engine to support other resolutions would be nice. Most of the sprites for the characters are actually pretty well done. Kathy looks off, but she’s the only one. The horizon on the backgrounds are also fairly low, and thus, makes characters moving far back or forward off.
As for audio, it’s actually fairly decent. The music is well done, and the ambient effects are okay. The voice acting was something that stood out to us, mainly because it’s really well done, and there’s not a whole lot of 2D click-and-point adventure games that bother with voice acting. While the voice acting is really well done, there is a very slight pause between each character speaking, and it makes conversations sound off.
The controls are also quite standard. You click on things, and you move around with the mouse. You have some basic options for the audio, but nothing in terms of visuals or resolution.
As for the entertainment factor, we enjoyed our time with the game. It’s rather short at 5ish hours, but it may be longer if you decide to get all the achievements.
Overall, it’s a pretty standard click-and-point adventure game, with some nice voice acting and fairly fleshed out characters. The story while short and rather hit or miss at the end, still was enjoyable enough to playthrough, and the things we did have wrong with the game didn’t stop us from playing. The puzzles, meh story (towards the end) and lack of resolution options may turn off some players, but it certainly wasn’t a horrible experience. We’re not sure if we’d suggest Kathy Rain at $14.99, but we did enjoy our time with the game.
- The music, voice acting, and overall audio is well done.
- The UI and controls have been simplified since the old days of click-and-points, making the game far more enjoyable to play overall
- side characters are fairly well developed, and have fairly distinct personalities
- The main character (and the story) are both fairly predicable
- Different resolution options would be nice
- The game’s main story falls apart at the very end, and may leave players rather confused