Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Cat Lady (thoughts on the game)

Recently, my husband and I settled into a holiday appropriate game, purchased during the Halloween Steam sale for a mere pittance.  "The Cat Lady" is a point and click adventure game, which uses what appears to be pixellated photographs as the main characters, and a background made of digital mixed media consisting of edited photographs, disassembled, reassembled and edited for maximum mood and texture.  It's sort of an artsy mix that I find very basic, but very appealing at the same time.  It's like a moving collage, made by Sorrow personified, in a dread induced state.  So basically, it's awesome, and anyone sharing my taste would love it!

The game begins with our "heroine", Susan Ashworth, staring into her Cat's eyes as she patiently waits for the pills she swallowed to poison her body and bring her to a peaceful death.  This may sound like a glorification of suicide, but I don't see it that way, and I'm not one to romanticize death.  Susan, our heroine, is a truthful portrayal of tragedy as she suffers from a slothful, deep depression resulting from isolation and loss.  It's probably the most refreshingly accurate representation of mental illness and depression I've seen in popular media, so accurate that I have to wonder if the writer drew from personal experience.  

When she fades from our world and crosses over into a world between, she is denied death by what appears to be an old lady, who we surmise to be the Devil or Death.  Susan is then blackmailed into returning back to body (and her empty life) in order to rid the earth of five parasites before she can find her peace.  And so the journey begins!

one of the five parasites

The game is very heavy on story and dialogue, and like most point-and-click adventure games, it relies on problem solving to move the game forward.  You must interact with the environment and other characters around you and pay attention to clues in the surroundings and in dialogue in order to reach your goals.  I find this game method much more pleasing than the ever popular first person shooter games, where the object is usually "shoot so and so" hidden behind a shoddily written story and forced unvarying dialogue (yawn).

The dreaded criticism...
The Cat Lady is an indie game, so it will have an indie feel to it, especially where the graphics and voice acting are concerned.  The graphics are not 3D or computer animated, but instead take on a more cut and paste approach, like an avant garde South Park.  Personally I prefer this, because when a game is too realistic, I often find it too nerve-racking to finish (ahem, Outlast).  The voice acting is not top notch quality, ranging from fantastic for the two main characters, to downright silly for some of the lesser roles.  The Devil or Death happens to be my least favorite, as the actress botched it with something that sounds like a forced fake German accent, which spontaneously changes to an accent that sounds like the voodoo queen from Monkey Island (if you get this reference, then congrats, you're a geek).  Her intonation was good, but I found the accent to be really forced, and downright distracting.  Another thing about the audio that really bothered me, was that the voice actors that played the supporting roles were all obviously using very cheap microphones without any sort of pop filter or volume control.  My husband didn't seem to notice this, but I've owned enough microphones to know that it didn't sound professional.  But, remember, this is an indie game, which means their budget was probably very limited.  All in all, I think they did a great job telling a story and realizing their dream with the funds they had.  It was a very satisfying, exciting game with plenty of story, atmosphere, and suspense, and I strongly recommend it!

You can buy the game DRM free direct from them, or from GOG:
Or, if you already have a Steam account, and don't mind DRM, you can buy it here:

get ready to kick some ass

Monday, May 9, 2016

don't tell me to smile

You're walking along the street, lost in thought and a polo wearing douchebag with perfect teeth and a self assured strut says "Smile!".  Has this ever happened to you?  If so, you're probably a female living in the United States suffering from something commonly referred to as "resting bitch face".   The fact that a normal, expressionless face is even given a name (a negative one, at that) is disturbing to me, because it denotes that there is something wrong with your mug if your lips are not turned up in a cheesy grin 100% of the time.

I've been told that some Eastern European country (Russia, I believe) has a saying along the lines of: "the only people who smile constantly are either crazy or American".  My fellow Americans, there's nothing wrong with the rest of the world because they don't share our affinity for smiling, nay, it's our obsession with baring our pearly whites that is weird.  So that German cashier is not grumpy or rude, they are paid (minimum wage) to do a good job, not to smile their way into your hearts.

One thing that many non-U.S. Americans don't understand is, that smiling is part of our cultural etiquette.  If you don't smile, you may be considered rude or stuffy.  First impressions are truly vital in the U.S., and if you don't put on a good face when meeting a potential boss, friend, partner, etc., then you may just throw a perfectly good opportunity out the window.  On the flip side, Americans take this etiquette as a global fact instead of a cultural phenomenon, and become offended by people from other countries that don't follow this (U.S.) norm.  In my opinion, it's always best to understand your own customs and the customs to other, in order to avoid conflict or misunderstandings.

Personally, I love the fact that Germans don't smile all the time, because it means that each smile from a German is a genuine expression of joy!  Now isn't that just a lovely concept??

I've always loathed having strange men telling me to smile.  I find it condescending, abrasive, and completely inappropriate that some bloke I've never spoken to thinks he has the right to demand something of me, of my body.  I'll do what I like with my body, with my mouth, and if that involves not smiling for randos then so be it!

And with that said, I'm off to work, where I shall walk along the streets with my resting bitch face, unharassed by people trying to impose their will regarding my facial expressions.  Thank you, Germany!