Small Town Blues: Kathy Rain

I played Kathy Rain at Gamescom and now that the first trailer is here, I’m eager to share my thoughts. If I hadn’t known it wasn’t a Wadjet Eye game, I would have thought it was a Wadjet Eye game. That’s the greatest compliment I can give to a point and click adventure in this day and age, and Kathy Rain’s grounded small town setting and strongly written protagonist are splendid. Set in 1995, it’s a mystery thriller that is intended to work as a homage to the Lucasarts games of the era, as well as mid-nineties music and television.

I played for around twenty minutes, working through the first of the game’s puzzles. The challenge was light and logical, and I was sold on the characters and story almost immediately. Kathy is a far more convincing and complex character than the chain-smoking, biker-loner image might suggest, and the central mystery is sad and believable. There’s a suggestion of darker forces at work and solo designer Joel Staaf Hästö cited Twin Peaks as an influence. He was (wisely) unwilling to be drawn on my probing about the details of the story and I’m eager to play more.

It’ll be released “when it’s done”, with voice acting the major missing element at the moment. Hästö is a one-person studio but the art is the work of several AGS and adventure art veterans. The experience shows – it’s a classy game and might fit into the hole where a new Blackwell game used to fit every once in a while.

18 Comments

  1. unitled says:

    I recently persuaded my girlfriend to try Her Story as the first game she’s played since having an N64 as a child. She really enjoyed that, and I’ve been trying to think of the next step, and something like this sounds perfect. She hates games she can ‘lose’ or make her feel not very good, she loves 90s TV and music, and is a big fan of mysteries and puzzle solving. If it came to mobile platforms it would be ideal!

    • megazver says:

      Give her some Wadjet Eye games for now. They’re already out and guaranteed to be great.

      • Spatvark says:

        Considering what you’ve mentioned she likes, I’d suggest Gone Home as well. Very 90’s, can’t fail, multiple environmental mysteries that tie in together, but also simple mechanics, so it’s hard to feel like a dunce with it.

        • unitled says:

          Thanks for the tips, both things that have been on my radar. Been a bit of a Wadjet fan for a while, though I’ve still to finish Technobabylon…

  2. Llewyn says:

    Love the sky in that header pic; reminds me of how we imagined things like the Magnetic Scrolls adventures looked in the dim and distant past.

    The game seems worth keeping an eye on. More Wadjet-style adventures can only be a good thing, even though I still have several of the real deal left to play through.

  3. Metalfish says:

    By missing voice acting, I hope that means that voiceover isn’t final. Some strange inflections going on. Although it could just be that she wasn’t given very good direction. Of course the part that forgives all sins in a game like this is the puzzles.

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      Henke says:

      I thought she sounded pretty good. What parts bugged you?

      • Metalfish says:

        I don’t think it’s that it’s flat (although it is), more her tempo and cadence feel kinda wrong. I doubt I’m explaining myself well but: it’s like an instrument being played out of time. It’s certainly not awful, but it sounds a bit hurried to me.

        • Sinomatic says:

          I don’t think it helps that the subtitles were right there. Even though I often end up playing with subs on, it can really affect how you experience the voice acting – it never has the right tone, speed etc as you expect it to in your mind.

        • draglikepull says:

          I agree. Something about the voice acting in the trailer is just . . . off. The timing, the cadence, the emoting . . . something about it just sounds unnatural.

    • orient says:

      Maybe it isn’t realistic to expect high-quality VO from indie adventure games, but it always bums me out when I see a game that looks fantastic, like this or one of the Wadjet Eye games, and then half the characters sound dull/lifeless/like someone putting on a cheesy voice. Really takes me out of the experience, but I know real actors are expensive.

      I’d back a game like this on Kickstarter if the money was going towards professional voice actors, for sure.

      • klops says:

        Voice acting is usually useless to me. It’s too slow. By the time I’ve read the line, the actor is still in its early parts.

        If the dialogue AND the voice acting are great, I can listen the whole lines. But usually dialogue is shit and voice acting mediocre/good. So no.

        Of course it affects that I come from a tv-subtitle country and am used to reading all the lines spoken.

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    Bluerps says:

    Ooooh! This seems like something I might like a lot. I hope it’s finished soon.

  5. TheTingler says:

    Looks interesting, but why is this a homage to LucasArts games? Other than it being a pixel-art graphic adventure?

  6. Arehandoro says:

    I love when trailers are made cleverly. They don’t reveal much but still capable of getting you mouth wide open and willing to know more.

    Sold.

  7. Winged Nazgul says:

    “If I hadn’t known it wasn’t a Wadjet Eye game, I would have thought it was a Wadjet Eye game. That’s the greatest compliment I can give to a point and click adventure in this day and age,”

    It really is and ensures that I will be putting this game on my wishlists. Thanks.

  8. Shazbut says:

    I’m a bit of an idiot, but are you allowed to use all that footage of stuff in a commercial game without permission? Even the Full Throttle footage?

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    syllopsium says:

    Yay! They used a Thinkpad 701 ‘Butterfly’ in the TV commercials, with the expanding keyboard :). I had one and it was awesome at the time.

    Looking forward to this – hope it’s well done.