System: PC, iOS, Android | Publisher: Raw Fury Developer: Clifftop Games | Reviewed On: Android
Kathy Rain is a Point & Click adventure set in 1995 and follows a young college student who returns home after the recent death of her grandfather to solve the mystery enshrouding his death. Clifftop Games, the makers of Whispers of A Machine (read the review here), have done a remarkable job with this one. Their debut game (KR) tugs at every attributed string I have attached to my soul and is everything I want from a detective/mystery Point & Click.
Kathy is a journalist with a motorcycle and an unwavering will to uncover the truths about her grandfather's life and death - sexy ey? wait until she sparks up a cigarette...
As you work with Kathy to uncover the unanswered details pertaining to her grandfather's death, you are pulled deeper into a chasm of misremembered truths and supernatural hardships. What's more, is that this thing is a goddamned pixellated dream! More on this later.
So, after finding out about the death of her beloved family member, Kathy decides to attend the funeral, despite having not set foot in Conwell Springs (her birth town) since she was a child. Upon arrival, it's evident that something untoward happened to her grandfather as her grandmother delivers the 'mystery brief' and details of her grandfather's state of body and mind in the years leading up to his demise. From the outset, it's obvious you are in for one hell of a ride.
The game is exhibited in a traditional format but holds strong throughout, using puzzles, providing inventory and more than one way to interact with inanimate objects. Upon solving the many problems and puzzles, you are opened up to a continuous progression of the story throughout the investigation, accompanied by Kathy's inner-monologue to give it that lone private investigator feel. It also expresses Broken-Sword-esque vibes in a radiant way, which is reminiscent of a young TroyMcJohnson's origin story, hard on the path to a Point & Click love affair which will no doubt last a lifetime. Not so much as to be compared side-by-side with, but enough to make me want to relive my childhood days on that particular game.
Kathy Rain (Game) offers a wide range of characters who are adequately detailed persona-wise, and who are all linked to the story in some way. I failed to notice any unnecessary characters, or gameplay for that matter, that didn't contribute to story progression. It just works!
One aspect that I think Clifftop Games can be proud of is the voice acting. The English-speaking actors have done a magnificent job at bringing the characters to life and each one has succeeded in delivering the perfect tone and vocal mannerisms for their alters, and ultimately, ostensible personalities to each one. I feel like this alone provides the pipe for the story to flow through so fluidly.
Secondly, style and artwork appear to be subjects that Clifftop Games has mastered from the get-go. They don't even need to worry about it, they're professionals. I mean, just look at the thing - Pixellated beauty. It's possibly almost perfect for me, and to release a debut game that is so flawlessly assembled and solid is a difficult feat to achieve.
The gameplay is classic in the sense that you have a set of areas or locations which become available to you as you navigate conversations, solve problems and achieve milestones in your investigation. The format is a work of linearity which is entirely satisfying and I suppose that the only downside to it, for me, is that you aren't able to fast travel. This is the only nag I have, especially when you are 2/3rds of the way through and all you are doing is visiting known locations trying to piece together clues.
Aside from the incredible visuals, expert voice acting and concrete structure, Kathy Rain takes the player through a genuinely interesting, if not incomparable, story and also touches on some repressed childhood trauma that is contributory to your character's personality and integrity. It becomes so much more than just a linear adventure game beyond this, and they (Clifftop) have used this angle to their advantage, adding considerable depth to the game.
The supernatural world we either love or hate is injected at set points throughout the story which gives this journey yet another dimension. Now, if you're anything like me, you'll cringe at the thought of supernatural phenomena being used unless it's done in the right way. But I think Clifftop have succeeded in implementing it in a balanced and mature fashion, rather than blasted it continuously in front of the player. The mix is an exemplar of how it should be done.
In a manner of speaking, this game was everything I wanted it to be and perhaps more. The way the story was told was brilliantly done and not once did I find myself wondering why I was playing it - even when stumped by some of the more difficult puzzles in the game. I loved the way that I couldn't predict, nor did I have any idea of, where the story was going to go. The end of the game brought Kathy's journey to a close but I have to admit, I didn't get the closure I was expecting. I think if they had spent a little more time on the ending, Clifftop would have produced a masterpiece in the eyes of adventure game deities, but alas it's merely a near-perfect work of art - HA! To conclude? so be it. The game is excellent and most-probably one of my all-time favourites within this genre. The replay value for me is quite high, maybe once a year, and I can't wait to dive back into Kathy's weird world. One thing I hope for is a sequel. Clifftop Games has released two titles thus, one of which I already reviewed, and I'm amazed at what they are able to achieve with such a small team. Their announced 3rd project is due to land in 2021. From an extremely well-written script to stunning pixellated visuals, I can safely say that this game is everything it should be in this genre, but doesn't try to be anything its not. The developers now have a two-game-proven knack of projecting this modest, genuine image and I hope they continue with this approach for all future games - for the sake of emotion-driven gamers like myself, if for nothing else.