I almost never get emotionally attached to games. Sure, there are few characters here and there that I feel for, but none was I so deeply connected to then the story of The Cat Lady. A brilliant and haunting game brought to you by Screen 7/Harvester Games, it tells the story of a woman without hope, who must suffer again and again in order to discover that she is not a loss unto herself, and that there is hope and simple beauty in a world filled with death and pain. The dialogue, the visuals, the sound, the acting, all come together to carve a truly unforgettable experience that will haunt the player long after the game is completed. There are a few questions left ambigous, but the player will not walk away without full satisfaction.
The plot is simple, as it should be, because it is the Cat Lady herself that creates the journey (though the player will provide details of her backstory). Susan Ashworth is our protagonist, and the player will meet at the end of her life, the first life. Like the cats that she calls her only friends, she will have nine lives, though the price for each will be enormous. But for a woman who feels such worthlessness, her actions will have the gravest of consequences. Giving such gifts of immortality (through sacrifice), she must rid her world of five Parasites that would seek to destroy her and those around her. Her journey is long, and she much use her wits and resources to discover and destroy these cretins.
The game play is equally simple, but a bit rare in that it makes use of the keyboard instead of a more point-and-click or mixed style. The player will only make use of a few buttons, as this is a story driven, psychological horror game. Those that want a by-the-numbers horror/action need look elsewhere.
The voice acting and writing are superb. Such a wonderful crafting of dialogue that recreates a true sense of the hollow numbness that envelopes the soul after a decade of despair and hopelessness. Lynsey Frost is able to express so well how when creature comforts lose all meaning and there is nothing or no one left to fill the gap, the soul spirals into such boundless emptiness. This emptiness is so wonderfully portrayed by the voice actress here. And yet there is light at the end of the tunnel, and when the player gets there it will be all that much brighter.
To say it’s the humanity that drives this game is an understatement, so the music adds to mood very well here. At times there will be a very haunting tune that will play in moments of sadness and reflection, other times thrash metal or industrial sounds will heighten up the tension.
The art direction will leave something stamped in your brain. Like something found from a dark graphic novel, a collage work of active animation, soft backdrop, splashes of dark color, detailed layering, etc, all leave this side-scroller impressionable in your mind’s eye. It’s so beautifully done that I often spend a few moments just checking out all the little details on the screen.
There’s a few jump scares to be found, but this isn’t a “scary” type of game. Think of it more like the Jacob’s Ladder of video games. The story has a purpose, the imagery is well done, and the acting is excellent.
I won’t lie; to say I spent a great chunk of this game on verge of tears in an understatement. This also may well be one of the few games that gave me legit nightmares afterwards. While playing I was riddled with bad dreams only to wake up feeling an overwhelming wave of sadness, forcing me to get up and finish the game. Everything she went through, I felt. And despite the beauty in the ending I was haunted a for a bit of time afterward. That there is the signal that I have just played a brilliant game.
And now you should too.
Visit here: The_Cat_Lady
or visit the Steam page.