The Cat Lady Review

The Cat Lady Featured

The Cat Lady Boxart

Developer: Harvester Games
Publisher: Screen 7
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, FireFlower Games, GOG*, Phoenix Store, Steam

Adventure games have been one of my favorite genres for a long time. Although some call them archaic, I find them innately enjoyable. There’s something to inhabiting worlds that are usually very fleshed out, often humorous, and full of puzzles. Somehow, I managed to avoid playing The Cat Lady for an entire year. Now that I have, I feel the need to make sure anyone else who has ignored it plays the game immediately. Be warned that the main focus is on depression and suicide, so it could easily distress or trigger some players.

The story centers around a woman named Susan Ashworth. She lives alone in an apartment and likes it that way. For a long time, she has suffered from depression and the only joy she still gets out of life is the stray cats who come whenever she plays the piano. As the game begins, she has finally mustered up the courage to commit suicide. From there, things get strange as it quickly becomes apparent that even death won’t stop the suffering.

The Cat Lady Screenshot 1

Susan is a novel protagonist and I immediately grew attached to her. Although I have never experienced depression myself, I do know others who have and her character and condition were treated with respect. This is something you rarely see in games (and oftentimes, any other media). Her journey is unusual, dark, and disturbing but also empowering. Other characters are also well-written in their creepiness, annoyance, or friendliness. Although the events depicted become quite unreal, Susan is still a very grounded character.

Unlike most adventure games, The Cat Lady dodges a point and click interface. Instead, you move through 2D screens using the arrow keys. Picking up and using items also is handled in this manner. I felt this was very convenient because you always know what items to interact with and how that might work. Overall, the game is fairly simple puzzlewise which keeps it open to both gamers and non-gamers. This is a huge deal considering that the story is one that I think many people would benefit from experiencing.

Atmosphere is one of the strongest elements aside from story, and this game provides an incredible one. The art is unlike anything else out there, with usage of drawing, collage, pixel art, and seemingly painting and CG art. Although this sounds like it could spell disaster, the end result is stunning. Some say the game is ugly, but if it is that only enhances the off-kilter mood. Much of the world is black and white with only touches of color at times. It really sets the scene for Susan’s mood and the dire situations she encounters.

The Cat Lady Screenshot 2

Then there’s the audio which is nearly perfect. Musically, there are a great deal of tracks that immerse you further into the experience. There were only a couple times when I felt the music was out of place. Voice acting is also impressive, and much more so than some more “commercial” adventure games. Susan gets by far the best voice actress, but other characters are also well-acted. Only two (of many) characters sounded a bit silly to me. It’s quite an impressive effort, overall.

I do not think The Cat Lady is perfect, but it proved to be an experience that resonated with me. It brings depression to the forefront and discusses it honestly. Because of that, it’s hard to not get pulled into the world and need to see it through to the end. At times, it was hard to play (because of how it affected my mood) but incredibly worth it. If you have any interest in the subject matter or adventure games, The Cat Lady is simply a must-play game.

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.