Halloween may be over for now, but if you’re looking for a game with a deep, creepy and disturbing story, The Cat Lady, by Harvester Games, might just be the game for you.
“My name is Susan Ashworth. I live alone in this old two bedroom flat. I rarely go outside. Some would say it’s a lonely life, and I guess that’s true, but I don’t like people’s company. Not lately, anyway. I only trust my cats these days, and I will miss them dearly. But they will understand, like they always have….
Teacup stays with me ‘till the end. He watches me, as if he knew…because earlier tonight, I swallowed a whole bunch of pills. They’re legal, of course, prescribed by my doctor for my sleeping problems. But I’ve taken thirty four of them; all I could find in the cupboard. And now the room around me spins in a blurry tango as my heart slows down. Any second now, I will be dead. I feel calm, I’m ready for it. I’ve only got one thing to say now. Thanks for nothing. Goodbye.”
You play as Susan Ashworth, a depressed, lonely middle aged woman with one love…her cats. During the introduction—her suicide note retold above—it’s clear that Susan no longer wants to live and feels that suicide is the only way out. But why? What could have happened to make her feel this way? Well, that’s the beauty of the game. You have to find out. But I must warn you, this game isn’t for the faint hearted or the innocent minded. It contains gore, sexual content, disturbing scenes—some of which that will creep you out—and violence.
During chapter one, Susan finds herself in a world of the unknown—a dark, eerie world filled with suspicion. Purgatory; the world you will often come back to. After navigating your way through the first few areas, you will stumble across a black iron gate, one which resembles the gate of Death. Upon unlocking it and entering it, a strange lady dressed in black is sitting on a chair on the perch before you, welcoming you. She knows your name and knows everything about you. Who is she? I’ll let you decide, but she does go by many names as she states in the game.
She refers to herself as the ‘Queen of Maggots’ and holds a special task for Susan, to become her hunter and punish the ‘Parasites’ of Earth for their sins. She warns her that she will meet five people in her life who seem harmless, when actually, they have cruel intentions and want to kill her. Not only that, the Queen of Maggots gives Susan a gift, a gift that prevents her from ending all of her pain…immortality! No matter what happens, she will always come back from the dead and take matters into her own hands. Karma is the ultimate ‘B’ in this game. But through death and resurrection, there is a price to pay, a sacrifice…your blood.
There are seven chapters in total—all of which include the five people you can’t trust—and through each one, you will gain a better insight into Susan’s shadowed life and her frame of mind. Throughout this dark, twisted journey, you will face riddles and puzzles, as well as finding objects to progress through areas. Similar to The Walking Dead by Telltale Games, you have the option to ask questions, however, the style is different and there is no timer and there are no quick time events. Just like life, certain actions have consequences that—depending on what you do and what actions you take during your gameplay—affect the game’s ending, so choose your options wisely.
Writer and director R Michalski did a great job with game’s story, and the other partakers who put this game together in a creative, artistic way deserve a lot of credit. It’s deep, emotive, skin crawling, creepy, disturbing, sinister, dark and twisted—a definite psychological horror. And to top it off, it has occasional jump scares, but the jump scares don’t make this game a true horror, it’s everything else: the environment, the voice acting, the characters, the music, everything. It’s a nightmare, and you’re a part of it.
From suicide, to friendship, love, loss and revenge, The Cat Lady, in my opinion, is an underrated game that deserves more recognition. Of course, every game has its flaws, but the only minor flaws I found was the start of the story was a little slow—but picks up toward the end of chapter one—and the gameplay isn’t ideally smooth. Overall, these minor flaws never distracted me from the game and story itself as it’s strong and engaging.
Through darkness, there is always hope. I believe this fits The Cat Lady’s storyline perfectly because after all of the horrors you’re faced with, there is light at the end of the road. In saying that, I highly recommend The Cat Lady to those who are interested in horror games, especially if you’re one for psychological thrillers.
So, is this the game for you? If it is, be sure to check it out and draw your own conclusions. If you have already played it, tell us what you thought of it! Also, be sure to check out ‘Forever’ by Siah—a beautiful, well suited song that features at the end of the game—and Downfall—the previous unsettling game based on Joe and Ivy Davis’ story who you meet in The Cat Lady.
Remember, being a Dark Angel isn’t all it’s made out to be….