I love horror games. I’ve been around since the first Alone in the Dark, and watched the rise of the Resident Evil franchise. Telltale Games’s excellent spin-off of The Walking Dead proved that even point and click adventure games can still do the job well. However, The Cat Lady used the same play style to bring the genre to near perfection.
The game starts on a dark note. Middle-aged and alone (save for her friendships with the local stray cats), the game’s protagonist, Susan, attempts suicide. Upon entering a surreal afterlife, she is offered a deal: she can have a second chance at life in exchange for killing five “parasites” back on earth. Agreeing to the terms, Susan becomes functionally immortal, although she still suffers the pain and experience of death each time it occurs during her mission.
While the plot may not sound that original at first blush, it’s the execution that sells it. The characterization in this game is bone deep. The characters, particularly the lead, feel very much like real people in a real world, and it’s a pleasure to watch them develop. The art direction is superb, using a paper cutout style and muted palette to achieve a dour look that makes the rare splashes of color pop. And while this is a point and click adventure game, the puzzles generally stay in the challenging category without delving too deeply into the moon logic for which they’re so notorious.
The Cat Lady really is less a game than an experience, and I don’t say that lightly. If you’re looking for something more subtle and emotionally resonant than the umpteenth zombie gorefest or Garry’s Mod jumpscare simulator, track this game down. You won’t regret it.