Adventure Corner: Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
Sam Wachter shares her experiences playing though Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born, which released on Android, iOS, Mac and PC back in 2016.
Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born
I had never heard of Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born until I read a review of the game over at RPGFan years back. I remember how intriguing the game sounded — a big-haired, lady detective? Sign me up! — and I put it onto my Steam Wishlist without much thought. Realizing how huge my Steam backlog is, I decided to put a few titles on my desktop and give them the big old college try.
Kathy Rain had me hooked from the get-go. Developed by Clifftop Games, this homage to the early 90’s point-and-click adventure genre focuses on a young journalism student with a troubled past. When Kathy Rain’s grandfather dies, she goes to the funeral only to learn that his life wasn’t what she imaged. Clouded in mystery and intrigue, Kathy makes it her personal mission to undercover the truth behind her grandfather’s death, and what truly went on in his life prior.
What I loved about this game is that it’s very easy to follow. Some adventure games tend to be very obtuse in how they handles puzzles, but Kathy Rain does an amazing job of being fairly straightforward making itself accessible to newcomers of the genre. There is only one puzzle in this game that truly feels like something out of a Ron Gilbert/Tim Schafer game, and even that one isn’t super challenging. Those looking for challenging, mind-bending puzzles will not find them in Kathy Rain.
The main appeal of this game really comes from its storytelling and Kathy is a very compelling heroine. Kathy is very strong-willed, sassy, but she’s also a girl on the edge as well. Kathy suffers from nightmares that plague her mind, and the player is forced to watch her suffer throughout the story. There’s good, healthy discussion in this game regarding anger and grief, and the player grows alongside Kathy, observing how she handles her emotions during such a rough period in her life. Kathy has a lot of sharp wit to share with the player and her antics are part of what makes the story so compelling. The build-up to the story’s climax is well-paced, even uncomfortable at times. Throughout the game you’re watching Kathy try and hold it together as she uncovers more about her grandfather’s life, and there’s a lot of surprising moments.
Graphically, it’s easy to tell where the inspiration for Kathy Rain comes from. It borrows its aesthetics from games like The Secret of Monkey Island and the Quest for Glory series. The pixelated graphics are colourful and visually appealing, it’s easy to tell what is happening within a scene. Sadly, the music is very forgettable, as the only tune that sticks with players will be the loop from the location selection scene. The voice acting is quite good, and the actress who voices Kathy in particular does a good job bringing her to life, injecting a mix of class and sass into the performance.
For one person to develop such a game, I have to say how impressed I am by Kathy Rain. While it’s not the most challenging point-and-click adventure game, it’s one that’s full of heart from start to finish. The writing is solid, the protagonist is someone the player will want to grow with, and the game ends on quite the nasty cliffhanger. I can only hope that perhaps in the distant future I will get my Kathy Rain 2, because finishing the first game felt like leaving behind an old friend. — Sam Wachter