This game is a strong, healthy, faithful throwback to classic point-and-click adventures that were extremely popular in the late '80s. There's good writing and some clunky acting, but both serve a noir story with a semi-modern twist. Set in the mid-'90s, the game takes ample advantage of the time period to require using awkward or emerging technologies from that time period: There are a few puzzles involving tape recorders, scanners, and even an IT department more interested in hacking than helping students. It's a world that feels lived in and thankfully void of the types of convoluted puzzles that sank the genre in its heyday.
Although there aren't hundreds of puzzles here, the game instead hinges on a few dozen refreshingly complicated -- but straightforward if you're thinking correctly -- puzzles. Expect to be stumped a few times if the genre is old hat for you, but it's going to be a slightly bumpy ride if this is your first time out with a point-and-click adventure. That isn't inherently bad, but Kathy Rain has no tutorial and makes no concessions to newcomers. You can certainly learn if this is your first time out, but scooping up every item you can, trying different combinations, and not being sure why has become the nature of these types of games, which you don't exactly need to embrace here -- you rarely have more than 10 items -- but it's a different sort of game and thinking than what is the norm for folks, unless you're a devoted fan of the genre. That said, this could easily make people converts, because so much of the game is centered on interacting with characters and approaching them correctly, rather than stringing together Rube Goldberg-like chain reactions of items. As it is, Kathy Rain is certainly worth a shot and has a very relatable storyline set in the real world, which is rare for the genre.