A reason to live

Who I am
Aina Martin
@ainamartin
Author and references

Susan Ashworth is a woman in her forties who lives alone with three stray cats, silent friends whom she invites to her dilapidated apartment while playing a tune on the piano. But Susan is also a lonely woman in the deep sense of the term. Depression builds within her and dulls her thoughts. And one day he can't take it anymore: he swallows an excessive dose of sleeping pills and kills himself. But the narrative voice we hear from the beginning of the game is hers, so something must have gone wrong. In fact, after the feast of pills he wakes up in an open field, during the day.



THU The cat lady leave the controls to the player and it is understandable the bewilderment that one feels and which lasts for at least an hour, as we wander in this dream world among macabre discoveries, crows that guide us and sudden changes of scenery, up to the fateful encounter with an old woman who appears to be death himself and who introduces herself as Queen of Maggots (queen of the worms), but who only at the end of the game will reveal her true identity. At the moment, however, it doesn't matter, what matters is that Susan will not be granted the privilege of dying. Indeed, he will become immortal and will have to come back to life to kill five maniacs, or parasites, as the old woman calls them. Kill them to save innocent lives and maybe find a reason to live. Thus begins for Susan a poignant and chilling journey at the same time.

In the course of the seven chapters that make up the adventure, he will witness atrocious crimes, he will discover misery and depravity, but also the warmth of trust and the fortitude of human beings. Together with Susan we will visit a dark and surreal world seen through the eyes of a suffering woman. There will be occasions for a liberating laugh and others to be moved. The independent developer Remigiusz Michalski, former author of Downfall, signs a controversial and courageous work together with Harvester Games. A non-linear story, rich in nuances and quotes, which at times takes off to find the thread and suddenly put together the elements it has sown. We do not go into detail because there is too much to tell and you must be the one to enjoy the trip if you feel like it. Perhaps it is enough to say that such a video game could please David Lynch, both for the way it is narrated and for the visual choices, bizarre and disturbing. When one least expects it, The cat lady plays low shots that leave you dazed for a few seconds. If there is a video game author who has managed to get inside the maze of the mind of an intelligent and disturbed character and then come back to tell us what he saw, this is Michalski, and The cat lady it is his masterpiece.



Death angel

Back from death or coma, hard to say since we wake up in a hospital bed, life doesn't seem much better than it was in the afterlife. And the player always has the doubt that everything is filtered through Susan's depressed mind, even if the five parasites are real and dangerous. Monsters with human features, despicable beings, manic, disturbed beyond remedy, people worthy of Saw - the riddle.

They are Susan's target, at least in appearance, because the story is much more intricate and multifaceted. Luckily Michalski holds the reins of the narrative very well and always brings us back on track after every detour. Susan goes adrift but the script of the game is solid and, with great aesthetic sense and subtle irony, she lets us experience the evolution of the protagonist from a patient in a protected ward to an avenger with a gas mask without ever missing a beat. In the course of the game Susan will become a true heroine and will discover within herself a strength that she believed she had lost forever. On the other hand, faced with the wickedness of parasites, it is difficult to remain apathetic. Of course, of course: we are not animals, we believe first of all in the justice of the courts, and Susan is of the same opinion too. In fact, in one case he telephones the police. Unfortunately, the agent, in full dull bureaucratic style, ends up asking her where she lives first, to verify that she is on the phone, and then passes her the Animal Protection, since Susan reports people who eat cats. In such cases the word passes to the shotgun, with all due respect to the law. Said so The cat lady it looks like an action game, while in reality it is a narrative adventure that reduces the control system to a minimum so as not to slow down the unfolding of the story.



To play, only the directional arrows and the space bar are used. Susan walks either left or right and if she passes in front of an object she can interact with the indication appears on the screen. There is an inventory but the items cannot be combined with each other. The system is perfect for keeping the player's interest alive even if it's not very comfortable. On the other hand, it is appreciable how the author has managed to create brilliant puzzles, never too difficult, because once again the narrative flow must not stop, but full of inspiration and always placed in context. However, the variants are not lacking: in a chapter of the game there is a small satisfaction bar to fill and towards the end we will play with a second character, Mitzi, a wonderful and multifaceted supporting actor, to whom we can give simple orders or ask for advice. Each scenario is different and fulfilling, full of mystery and surprising events and we have never found ourselves stuck wandering without knowing what to do or victims of boredom. The cat lady he mostly talks about depression as an illness, but he does it without depressing. He draws on dark and morbid shades but lets those timid rays of confidence filter into Susan's life that they will then become a shining sun. Because in the end, when you get to the last act, it turns out that The cat lady it is actually a video game about hope.


Keep out of reach of children

The stiff and jerky animations and the unfriendly interface could be unsettling, at least at first. But just that way of controlling Susan helps create tension and fear. The various chapters are full of scenarios to explore, sometimes even twenty screens, all very detailed and never repetitive. The drawings, mostly in black and white, have an undeniable artistic quality.


The author is determined to throw us off every time and you can never tell if after a moment of calm he is not going to blow someone's head off. Sometimes dreams seem real, other times it's reality that feels like just a dream. Michal Michalski's music are perfect bridges to ferry us from one mood to another or reinforce the twilight moods of the game. The effects do their part well too, like the horrible voice of the dead woman in front of the mirrors. But it is above all the voice actresses of Susan and Mitzi, Lynsey Frost and Brittany Williams who breathe soul into the characters with their interpretation. On the other hand, the bond between Susan and Mitzi is the turning point of the story and will make all the difference in Susan's devastated life. The rest of the cast does their part but with negligible performance. Taken as a whole, compact and coherent, The cat lady is a superlative psychological horror, which we are not afraid to nominate among the best games of the year. Like The Walking Dead this is also a narrative adventure, so you have to be ready to let yourself be carried away by its rhythm. There are subtle narrative crossroads well hidden in the dialogues and a small chance to choose Susan's values ​​and some nuances of her mood, but mostly we are in the hands of the author. The theme of depression is a tough one for everyone and here we go even further. There is talk of disability, illness, isolation. Many prefer to turn away and not think about it. So ponder if this is the kind of game for you, why The cat lady it is not a title for everyone. And it is right that it is reserved for an adult audience. But whatever you think about it, the result is the same: The cat lady is one of the best horror adventures ever.

Comment

Digital Delivery: GOG, Zodiac Prezzo: 9,99€ Resources4Gaming.com

9.0

Readers (41)

8.7

Your vote

The cat lady is a horror adventure that hides its grace under a veil of sadness, morbidity, pain and death. There is talk of depression and loneliness, but also of how we can overcome these invisible evils and therefore all the more subtle. Michalski opens the doors of Susan's mind to us and lets us experience her mood swings by reflecting them on the outside. In The cat lady you go from violence to sweetness and finally to fear in a matter of minutes. Intense emotions, reinforced by an almost perfect writing and by unpredictable and refined visual sequences. Expect bizarre puzzles and find brilliant, but resign yourself to the idea of ​​handing over the helm to the author. The interaction with the scenario is a tool of tension in the hands of Michalski rather than the player, and the narrative always comes before the game, in the style of The Walking Dead, but with an unconventional and somewhat clumsy interface. If this doesn't discourage you, you will experience one of the best horror adventures ever. But above all you will discover a story that, in this way, only a video game could tell.

PRO

  • Intense storytelling
  • Mature topics treated in a mature way
  • Unique stylistic choices
  • Touching dubbing
  • Original puzzles integrated into the story
  • Passionate without weighing you down
AGAINST
  • Unfriendly interface
  • A few steps longer than necessary

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • The editorial team uses the ASUS CG8250 Personal Computer
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 860 at 2.8 GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB of RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670
  • Operating system: Windows 7 64-bit

Minimum requirements

  • 2.4 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Direct X 9.0c compatible video card
  • Windows XP / Vista / 7/8 operating system

Susan Ashworth takes her own life, but Death has other plans for her

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