App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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For almost all intents and purposes, Kathy Rain is a game designed to feel like classic point-and-click adventure games like Sam & Max or Full Throttle. Being slavish to a genre's conventions doesn't mean you can't do new things with it, though, and that's exactly what Kathy Rain does. By taking a tried-and-true gameplay template and layering on great puzzles and a fantastic story, Kathy Rain is among one of the finest adventure games I've played.
In Kathy Rain, you play as the titular college student as you return home following the passing of your grandfather. After the opening exposition, you'll be left to tap your way through scenes to try and uncover the mysterious circumstances of his decline.
It's all fairly standard point-and-click adventure game design in the sense that you'll be finding and using items to advance the game story. This formula works particularly well in Kathy Rain due to a combination of the Twin Peaks-inspired storyline, a cast of colorful characters, and some really clever design tricks that keep you from ever feeling stuck.
Character rains supreme
Kathy Rain wouldn't be a particularly exciting experience if it weren't for its characters. Kathy, the protagonist, is brimming with roguish quips and a devil-may-care attitude and carries most of the game's personality. Beyond her though, her Christian conservative roommate, Eileen, and a whole host of other minor players breathe life into the story that plays out throughout the course of the game.
There are times when some characters are a little too hokey or fall into cliche territory, but almost every person you meet in the game has an extra dimension to them, which serves to really deepen both the story and game world. There are also times when Kathy goes out of her way to tell you–the player–just how edgy or cool she is instead of showing you, but these are interspersed with really nice character moments or backstory revelations that more than make up for these minor annoyances.
Though Kathy Rain doesn't quite nail everything about its characters, it uses them to great effect to tell its story. Though the plot does venture into really strange territory, it is excellently paced so as not to feel nonsensical or rushed, and most of this is thanks to some great character-focused puzzle design.
A lot of the puzzle-solving in Kathy Rain involves either interviewing characters or presenting characters with things they will react to. And, since each character in the game presents their personality so fully that you feel like you can read them, solving puzzles feels a lot more natural than it does in a lot of other adventure games.
The bottom line
Kathy Rain takes the tools of classic adventure games and uses them to make an extremely compelling package. This is absolutely a must-play for point-and-click adventure fans, particularly if you're looking for an impactful story experience.