Have You Played… Kathy Rain?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

For a moment there, it looked like we might be seeing a resurgence in the traditional point and click adventure. All the big names from the 90s heyday leapt into action, but unfortunately (in hindsight) they all did it via Kickstarter. So we either didn’t see a final game at all, or mostly saw low-budget, under-realised mediocrity, and everyone refocused their attentions on RPGs again. Meanwhile, with minimal fuss, Clifftop Games release an absolute corker that reminds everyone how it should be done: Kathy Rain.

Kathy is a journalism student, who when visiting her recently widowed, previously estranged grandmother, discovers a whole pile of peculiarities in her family’s past. This is a tale of small town secrets and peculiar, potentially supernatural goingson.

The toughest part of reviewing the game was not being able to mention how disappointing I found the ending without giving way too much away. I feel safe saying it here, more detached, as I haven’t given the same build-up. But suffice to say, I think it could have picked a much more interesting fork in the narrative road. But not liking an ending isn’t the same as the ending being bad, and this is one of those interesting cases where preferring it would have taken a different direction is not a detraction.

It’s currently a third off in the Halloween sale, and what better day to pick up a spooksome tale, and a truly fine example of the pnc adventure genre?

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16 Comments

  1. walrus1 says:

    I played the demo and frankly didn’t feel a strong desire to buy it. It wasn’t a bad game at all but for some reason, it just didn’t click with me.

  2. cablechip says:

    For a moment there, it looked like we might be seeing a resurgence in the traditional point and click adventure.

    I dunno. It seems like there has been quite a few noteworthy adventure games in recent years anyway. Kathy Rain, Dropsy, all the Wadjet Eye games, the Deponia games, book of unwritten tales…and that’s just what I got by skimming GOG for a few minutes.

    • HothMonster says:

      Just because they exist doesn’t make them noteworthy. Deponia was junk imo, the protagonist is an asshole and the puzzle logic is just bonkers stupid most of the time.

      • FrumiousBandersnatch says:

        Just because they exist doesn’t make them noteworthy.
        I might be going out on a limb here, but i think existence is not the reason cablechip thinks those are noteworthy. Either way, our definition of “noteworthy” as “you liked it” doesn’t doesn’t look that much better to me.

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      subdog says:

      And we still have Thimbleweed Park to look forward to- even if it’s exactly the kind of one-off crowdfunded nostalgia project John is talking about.

  3. drygear says:

    I picked it up a few days ago on sale and have been playing it. I wasn’t impressed at first and didn’t like the main character, but she and the game have grown on me.

  4. Zankman says:

    I really like the art style in this game.

  5. Wagrid says:

    “But not liking an ending isn’t the same as the ending being bad, and this is one of those interesting cases where preferring it would have taken a different direction is not a detraction.”

    John HOW DARE YOU take this entirely reasonable and appropriate stance on and ending you didn’t like. This is the internet God damn I demand you denounce the developers and spend forever hating something you otherwise like.

  6. klops says:

    I have. The already pointed out ending is the worst thing, but for some reason that’s a very strong rule in adventure games. Think about the final areas in Monkey Island 2 or Gabriel Knight 3, for example, so it’s sort of expected.

    The “puzzles” were easy and not that good. Not so bad either, but in order for me to enjoy adventure games nowadays, they really need to stand out, not just be ok there and quite crappy here.

  7. noodlecake says:

    I loved Kathy Rain. It’s the game that’s gotten me back into playing adventure games again. I don’t like adventure games that have challenging puzzles all the way through but I like them to be difficult enough to give me a sense of reward for completing them and don’t result in me having to look to walkthroughs or spend 3-4 hours on one problem.

    I felt like Kathy Rain had excellent world design and the characters were believable and the narrative was intriguing enough to keep me hooked. It made me go back to Gemini Rue and the other Wadjet Eye games and actually complete them.

    I also tried to get into Grim Fandango but the solutions to the puzzles seem completely arbitrary so I gave up pretty quick even though the game has so much character.

    I haven’t played any classic point and click adventures that I’ve enjoyed as much as Kathy Rain or the Wadjet Eye games… Except maybe Broken Sword and The Longest journey.

  8. draglikepull says:

    “So we either didn’t see a final game at all, or mostly saw low-budget, under-realised mediocrity, and everyone refocused their attentions on RPGs again.”

    I wouldn’t describe Broken Age as low-budget; certainly not by the standards of indie games. I know John wasn’t a huge fan, but I rather liked it. Obduction is apparently quite good (I haven’t gotten around to it yet). Thimbleweed Park looks to be shaping up quite nicely. Seems to me like things are moving along just fine.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    “unfortunately (in hindsight) they all did it via Kickstarter”

    You say that like Broken Sword 5, Tesla Effect, and Quest For Infamy weren’t funded by Kickstarter. Like Undertale, Shadowgate, The Banner Saga, and Sunless Sea weren’t funded by Kickstarter.

    Stop letting your bitterness at the massive failure of a few prima donnas make you overlook the quiet success stories. Yes, Kickstarter will always be risky, even for projects by people who were successful prior to Kickstarter. The nature of Kickstarter is that you may never see the game you are trying to fund.

    The nature of Kickstarter is that million-dollar disasters and ten-thousand-dollar successes happen all the time. The nature of Kickstarter is that it is simply impossible to know for certain which is which ahead of time, no matter how much you trust (or don’t trust) the people making each pitch.

    Get over it.

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    Risingson says:

    Same problem as most of the Wadjet Eye adventures: not enough sense of humour to tell what this is telling, though the puzzling is fairly good though too “contained”. Now, having read the other day what John said of Shardlight, where having all the puzzles happening in a few location is a great design choice for him and having all that tight chapter-like Broken Sword 2-like claustrophobic game-o-phobic design as a good thing, I am starting to think that player laziness is rewarded.

    Kathy Rain is at its best when it gets crazy, really crazy. It is at its worst then it tries to scream GABRIEL KNIGHT every screen. It’s a pity that it is not brave enough to keep up with the mad tone all the time and goes down to the same old shit crap of family traumas everyone talks about in these modern adventures (which sound fake and just learnt from tv movies starred by Connie Selleca).

    • noodlecake says:

      Most of the Wadget Eye games are loaded with wit and humour. It’s just not the zany, in your face, cartoon humour that you tend to get from most video games.

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