Twisted, messed up, brilliant
The Cat Lady is a wonderful point and click adventure, with a very distinct style of art, that deales with mental health on a very mature level.
I believe that one thing I tweeted right after finishing The Cat Lady was, that I rarely encountered a game that dealt with mental health so mature. The very game begins, I think I can spoiler that much, with a suicide. Anti-heroine Susan Ashworth, amazingly voiced by Lynsey Frost, wished the world goodbye with an embittered “Thanks for nothing” before she drifts into peace and freedom. But things never play out as intended, right?
Indie games studio Harvester Games created a very… different game. With focus on “mature, story-driven experiences in the horror genre” and original games that “would appeal most core gamers”, The Cat Lady is exactly that. Original. In both story and graphics.
To be honest, the latter is something one has to get used to. When I started the game for the first time I was quite shocked that it is from 2012. Resolution 800 x 600, and since we all have larger screens these days it’s a bit pixelated. The style is…, well I would describe it as ‘arty’. But once adapted to it, it goes hand in hand with story and sound and creates a work of art. Totally different, but gorgeous. What I really didn’t like the whole way through was the clunky inventory at the bottom of the screen.
The story is unique. A bit slow at the beginning, but it speeds up in chapter 3. After that I didn’t want to put the game down and binged it through in one session. Pretty short though, about 10h. You play as Susan, stumbling from one crazy situation into another. All while still fighting her mental illness. At some points I was like ‘Finally someone got it right how it looks inside my head’. Twisted, morbid, dark. With a bright spot you can barely see, because the darkness swallows all light. Uhm… where was I? Right, the story.
Your choices matter. The game has four different endings, depending on what you’ve done during the game. I need to replay it, because I got only the ‘good ending’, but I need the ‘best ending’ for my salvation.
Before I buy a game on steam, I usually go through the reviews to get a feeling if I’d like it or not. I remember that one review in specific, or rather a part of it, made me buy it during the summer sale. YouAreScrewed wrote: “The Cat Lady described it in such a beautiful way where one could understand pain, one could understand what it’s like to be lonely, to want to kill yourself, I literally cried when I was done.”
If you understand, feel, experienced what he wrote, than this game is for you.
Characters are (un)loveable, depending on where they/you stand, emotionally. A great part of it is the cast. Mostly unknown, the voice acting is great. Period. Especially Brittany Morgan Williams as Mitzi. Oh, I love Mitzi. No, you have to find out yourself who Mitzi and her connection to Susan is, but she’s G.R.E.A.T. and my latest female video game crush.
Haven’t mentioned the soundtrack yet, have I? Maybe because I won’t only repeat superlatives. Not only is the music awesome, even without the game, it also accompanies the story perfectly. Whoever selected the music for the game did a great job.
There is a sequel to The Cat Lady, called Downfall, which is almost as good as predecessor. Will give you my take on this next weak, so stay tuned.
Last, but not least, leave me a comment with your take on The Cat Lady. Played it? Liked it? Hate it? No matter what, I want to hear about it.