Kathy Rain on PC
With the explosion of narrative-driven games in recent years, it’s hard not to see how much this trend owes to the point and click adventure genre. While not the first to explore the idea of story-first gaming, this natural evolution from earlier text adventures had a huge impact on what we now expect from games. Kathy Rain is an interesting take on this, putting narrative above all else in a way that works beautifully to create a compelling tale of mystery and secrets.
Following the eponymous Kathy Rain, a journalism student attending university in 1995, our story begins as Kathy hears of her grandfather’s passing back in her childhood home of Conwell Springs. Our intrepid investigator decides to hop on her trusty motorcycle and return to attend the funeral. Before long, Kathy finds herself in the midst of the peculiar tale of an incident that robbed her grandfather of his mobility, and a tangled web of intrigue surrounding this event.
In the early going, Kathy Rain is a bit slow-paced, and the relatively mundane task of trying to uncover the first pieces of the game’s deeper puzzle is, at times, almost dull. Once Kathy begins to put the pieces that she’s found together, though, the pace begins to pick up and the sinister underworkings of the quiet mountain town’s history take shape. Kathy soon finds herself in the center of a decades-long secret, with danger and horror skulking beneath the serene surface.
Aesthetically, Kathy Rain would be right at home among the adventure games that flooded the market during the game’s mid-90s setting. While the look may be simplistic by modern standards, it still holds up, and the smooth animations and full-scale voice acting bring it together nicely. Most of the game’s puzzles are straightforward and direct, and veterans of the genre are sure to find some familiar elements that are well-executed and nicely crafted.
Beyond its retro look, Kathy Rain boasts a robust and interesting story. While it does follow typical item-combination and puzzle solutions, the game’s focus is squarely on telling this tale. The mundane opening chapter soon opens up to a world rich with the supernatural, and a mystery that circles the entire history of the idyllic Conwell Springs. Murder, suicide, and religious morality all share the limelight as our narrative explores a variety of thematic elements.
I’m trying to avoid spoiling anything for those interested in Kathy Rain, but suffice it to say that there’s far more to the story than I’ve let on. The humble beginning soon gives way to the town’s dark history and elements of the supernatural. My only contention is with a particular piece of Kathy’s personal history that feels a bit forced, but otherwise its tale comes together very nicely and presents an all-around interesting and well-told tale.
Kathy Rain also includes a great variety of locations and characters, all backed by passable voice acting. While there’s a fair amount of returning to previously-visited places, the game also does a good job of making sure there’s something new to do each time you return. The progression of the story means people move around within the world, and Kathy’s travels include a biker bar, a health clinic, and a history-laden church that holds secrets to delve into.
I will admit that it took me some time to really get into Kathy’s story, but once I reached past the initial pieces, I was soon hooked. As the plot deepened, I found myself captivated and driven to finish the game and see what lay ahead. I completed the game in about four hours of play, which seems a decent content for the $14.99 price on Steam. Discarding the more confounding puzzles that plague some of its genre, Kathy Rain is a true story-first title that’s a solid go-to for anyone with a passing or greater interest in point-and-click adventures.
Score: 4/5 – Great