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