Writing a review about this game, although I haven’t played it for a while now, may sound strange but I can’t let it drown in the abyss that is called Steam. It deals with problems like depression, loneliness, social and moral decay of society, problems that became stronger in Modern times. “Time is Money”, isn’t that one of those sentences everybody hears or even says every day? If I ask you, whether or not you can tell me what the name of your neighbor is, how many of you could answer that question? And not to mention that sweet anonymity the internet has to offer, literally forcing millions of people to present their point of view to others, even if they haven’t been asked for.
So what is this all about? Meet Susan Ashworth, middle-aged, cynical, depressive, cat-loving and about to commit suicide. Spending her last breaths with her beloved Tomcat, Teacup, Susan finds herself in another world, not knowing if this is life, death or even something worse. A woman, calling herself “Queen of the maggots”, is waiting there, offering Susan something that will bring her in touch with five different strangers. And it seems like they don’t want to hold a tea party at all.
I won’t and simply can’t spoil more information about the plot right here because it might alter your whole experience while playing, so let`s have a look at the game’s execution instead. The Cat Lady aims to be a psychological horror adventure, that is divided into different chapters and presented with side scrolling 2D-graphics. Although people seem to look strange, undefined and even ugly sometimes I can’t imagine a better setting for this game, especially in combination with the well drawn and often animated backgrounds. Items will get highlighted if they can be used, clicked or interacted with, some can be stored in a small inventory. Puzzles aren’t very hard at all, the plot is all that matters. Most of the time you have to find Object A, combine it with Object B or interact with Object C, but still there are some really special interactions while playing the game that I will never forget, may they be offensive or simply unique. You will also encounter many dialogues that may have a huge impact on your game or even end it so be aware of what to choose in the conversation trees.
This game is rated 18 and that for some reasons. Violence, murder, suicide, anger, rage, rape and psychological terror are only the tip of the iceberg of what this game has to offer. Since these themes only refer to human behaviour that has been like this for ages, there is nothing to feel offended about. It is illustrated gruesomely, but never without an aspect of art, like there is even a reference to a certain book of Stephen King that I don’t want to spoil here. Besides that, people who aren’t at least 18 yet may lack some experience in life. Understanding or feeling what this game wants to show can be hard for those who have never felt what living a life can imply sometimes.
Before I start to summarize the points I mentioned above, I want to bring up the amazing soundtrack. It manages to walk the line between honeymoon daylife and the feeling one might get, right before getting engulfed into the abyss of depression and psychotic horror.
Big Text, Quick Facts:
- A mature plot one can hardly forget – realistic core meets terrifying fiction. Or the other way around?
- Although depressing and cynical to the core – Susan is credible and pleasant!
- Wonderful artwork (just look at chapter 5)
- Well written dialogues
- Some unique mechanics the player must use to proceed
- Ugly, disgusting or unkind – but interesting side characters
- Multiple Endings
- Fitting, engaging and enjoyable Soundtrack
- Topics might offend people
- Most puzzles won’t challenge experienced adventure players
I know I wrote a lot above but words cannot describe what playing and finishing this game made me feel. This is easily one my most beloved stories a game could offer, including all its violence and hate. You don`t have to suffer any mental problems to understand how Susan could get into all this but you might need some morbid interest and a big package of black humour to help her through it. I call it an indie masterpiece with great artwork, sound and plot.