Kathy Rain (2016)

Kathy Rain (2016), written and designed by Joel Staaf Hästö, developed by Clifftop Games, published by Raw Fury AB

Lukewarm is what I'd call Kathy Rain most of the duration of the game. It's not a bad game, but at the same time, it isn't anything spectacular either. It kinda manages to rise above average,  but it never really manages to go beyond anything else but a sort of a pastiche of 90's grunge, Twin Peaks and X-Files.

Kathy Rain is too cool for anything else journalism student, who finally returns home to her grandfather's funeral. She's been away because her mother took her away a long time ago because of reasons and just like these things go, she has committed her in a mental asylum and is now on her own in the world, being cool and smoking and driving her motorbike.

At the funeral, Kathy finally catches up with her grandmother and she learns of the incident of 1981, that left her grandfather Joseph in a wheelchair. Then there's a mysterious Church of the Holy Trinity, a drowned schoolgirl, a slew of Joseph's former war buddies and other stuff, that adds up to a proper mystery, during which Kathy goes through a lot of smokes.

She's not alone on the case though, as she has a polar opposite roommate, a nerdy, religious and above all helpful and cheery girl Eileen. While Kathy goes out gallivanting around, Eileen stays back and does some research for her as well as functions as a kind of a tip line during the case, as you can call her to ask her ideas of what you should be doing. 

In every way imaginable, Kathy Rain is a modern, retro-inspired adventure game. The art and the UI is stuck in the 1990's, but the puzzle design is more lenient and logical, trying to actually revolve around puzzles, that make sense and aren't too tasking if you give them some thought. The art is, like the game itself, pretty hit and miss. There's a kind of a feeling of a lack of art direction what comes to backgrounds and the animation is somewhat stiff and parse. Again I couldn't help but think, that it all is done by someone who thinks pixel art is great but doesn't really know how to do it properly, as they're doing it just because, not because they were just doing the best they could with the technology they had at hand.

The voice acting is surprisingly decent. Ariella Siegel who is voicing Kathy does a good job, managing to deliver even some of the clunkier lines believably. The other roles are voiced well enough as well, with only a couple of not so good reads in the mix.  Overall, a surprisingly solid job for a small budget indie game like this, as even the voice quality is pretty consistent throughout.

Like I said though, the game itself is overall somewhat of a lukewarm experience. There are snippets in it that could have ended up making a better game, but now it just feels like your typical mystery story, where surprisingly enough everything is connected to Kathy just because that's how it always goes. It's fun if you dig that kind of thing, but personally, I feel I've seen a story like this one time too many.

The ending of Kathy Rain teases for a new game. I don't really mind if the devs manage to push one out, but I won't be missing any sleep if they don't.