by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
When I told Matt that we were going to see a new adventure titled Kathy Rain this Gamescom, he immediately said “That must be a detective story”, and it was.
Kathy Rain is a self-confessed love letter of its lead designer Joel Staaf Hästö to adventure games from the nineties. Actually, it might even be a love letter to the nineties itself, a time which lends itself far better for a good detective story than the world of today. Budding detectives could not look everything up on the Internet, cellphones were a rarity and to go somewhere you mostly used your own navigation skills.
In the opening scenes we see how protagonist Kathy returns home for the first time in many years to attend her grandfather's funeral. Talking to her grandmother, she learns that there is something not quite right about the incident some time ago that eventually led to her grandfather’s death. She decides to investigate and soon finds out that the incident is shrouded in mystery. Her grandfather was working on something in secret and it appears that someone did not want that to come out.
During the presentation, one of the first stops was the local police station where an old friend sits behind the desk, informing you that you need to talk to the sheriff. The sheriff informs you that he cannot help you, and no, there’s no way you can have access to the report. In true adventure style, you devise a way to get access to the report by paying an inmate to distract the deputy so that you have time to rummage through the files. Among the evidence, you find a tape with clues that lead back to your grandfather’s attic.
It’s all standard fare for a point & click adventure, but I have a feeling that the story is going to be Kathy Rain’s standout feature. The feeling that something was not right crept up on me soon after talking to the grandmother and it increased throughout my short time with the game. I don’t know if the story involves anything supernatural or alien, but I got this distinctly X-Files type vibe from the game and that’s a good thing.
Under the hood
But the story isn’t the only expected highlight, the graphics too are simply wonderful. Every screen is hand drawn beautifully with warm and sometimes foreboding colours. Grandma’s living room feels as if you stepped into the past and the police station reflects a backwater police station where time has stood still. The interludes during which Kathy rides from one scene to the other on her motorbike add that little bit of flavor that tells you that Kathy Rain may - look - like a 1990’s adventure, but that there is a little more under the hood than is immediately apparent.