Off The Beaten Path: Kathy Rain Is Your Fix While Waiting For Jessica Jones S2

Welcome to Off The Beaten Path, where we present reviews of non-AAA gaming titles and discuss issues pertinent to women in gaming.

Yes, I’m reviewing another point-and-click adventure game: I have to admit, it’s a favorite genre of mine. But don’t worry—Kathy Rain is very different from Goetia. For one, it is a pixelated game very reminiscent of the year it is set in (1995). The nostalgia factor is strong here, as Kathy navigates the realm of phone books, Windows 95, and a world without Google.

The titular character is a snarky journalist student with a troubled past. She arrives at her dorm room to be informed by her roommate that the newspaper has reported the death of Joseph Rain, her grandfather. Kathy was fond of her grandparents growing up, but after her father took off, her mother took Kathy away to the “city” and never allowed them to have any contact. Kathy decides to go to the funeral, where she reunites with her grandmother, and learns her grandfather died after a mysterious accident. She decides to look into it, and sets off on an investigation that leads her down the rabbit hole.

At first I was not a fan of the voice acting, but I warmed up to it quickly. Kathy particularly expresses snark in such a way that made me laugh out loud a few times. If you are a fan of Jessica Jones, this is a game for you. The puzzles all have logical answers—not once did I get frustrated or consulted a walkthrough. That doesn't mean they were all easy, just that if I got stumped, I needed to shift gears and try to think about it another way. The game does hold your hand a bit, but not in a way that feels insulting, just convenient. Kathy will take notes and draw diagrams, and explain some of the logic behind the puzzle as you go along. Even if you stumble on the answer, you will still understand why it worked.

Once Kathy uncovers more and more of the mystery, it becomes apparent that there are occult forces at play. Fans of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father might feel there are some similarities in how both Kathy and Gabriel think they’re investigating strange occurrences that must have a logical explanation, only to find family secrets, cults, and conspiracies. Hints of this are peppered throughout the beginning of the game, so players shouldn't feel suddenly thrown into the weird, though some aspects are jarring. For example, there is a plot point that involves abortion; it is hinted at early in the game, only to be thrown at the player quite suddenly at the very end. The player then decides how Kathy feels about it; she can think it’s wrong, sad, or perfectly okay. It felt very unnecessary, and just there to include a controversial issue without having to frame it as good or bad and alienate the player; the emotional pay-off wasn't there, and instead felt cheap.

The sleepy town of Conwell Springs is filled with strange characters; I enjoyed the friendship between Kathy and her roommate Eileen; Eileen is a very religious girl, who keeps her side of the room prim and proper, whereas Kathy is the complete opposite: a mess in every way. But the two are steadfast friends who sometimes butt heads, and have each other’s back. There is no competitiveness, no catty behavior, just the power of friendship with sarcastic cracks.

I enjoyed the game and would recommend it. It took me about five hours to finish, and I’m likely to replay it sometime in the future, when I will have forgotten most of the solutions. Kathy Rain is available on Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle for $14.99. It was published by Raw Fury and developed by Clifftop Games.

Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.