Have You Played... The Cat Lady?
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I haven't played The Cat Lady [official site]. Or at least, I haven't played it to completion. If I had to answer my own question, 'have you played The Cat Lady?', I'd have to say no, because what little of it I saw, I now believe I misread or was in the wrong mood to appreciate. Time to give it a second chance.
The Cat Lady is a point and click adventure, except it isn't. It has the puzzles and inventory system and dialogue that you might associate with a traditional adventure game, but there is no pointing and clicking. The whole thing is keyboard controlled, with the character walking either left or right within each scene and the 'up' cursor or 'w' used to interact with hotspots in the environment.
It's also a horror game. And it's not the ghouls and ghosts kind; it begins with a suicide and things get stranger and sadder from there on in.
When it came to Steam not so long ago, I was very excited. I'd heard good things from friends who know my tastes well and the art style is eye-catching in all the right ways. Half an hour in, I felt like I was leafing through a scrapbook of ideas cribbed from other horror games and novels though, rather than something that had its own reason to be. Then Downfall, the developer's follow-up (with few narrative links) came along and I played it a few months after release and adored its story, which is equal parts The Shining, Silent Hill 2 and something quite fresh. It's funny as well as creepy, which is what sold me on it eventually.
Now I'm thinking it's time to revisit The Cat Lady.