The year is 1995. On a dull September day, journalist student Kathy Rain learns about the recent death of her grandfather, Joseph, and she decides to take a long-overdue trip back to her hometown, Conwell Springs, to be at his funeral. Catching up with her grandmother, she learns that Joseph Rain had been the victim of a mysterious event years before, leaving him a mere vegetable in a way that science was unable to puzzle out. Surprised and curious, Kathy decides to get to the bottom of what happened all those years ago. With nothing but her determination, her motorcycle, her smokes, and her long lost dad's lighter, she explores the town in search of anything that could explain Joseph's condition.
However, not everything is as it seems in this small town, and what starts off as a look into the past soon evolves into a very current and very real danger. As more questions appear around every corner and things take a turn for the weird, Kathy Rain soon finds herself swamped in a mystery. What is the story behind the artist who committed suicide? What was Joseph Rain doing the day he was confined to his wheelchair? Why is everyone in this town so goddamn insane? And will her college roommate stop invading her personal space?
Made in a pixel art styling, the game itself is rather reminiscent of old LucasArts games with a large investigative bent to it. Much of the game is about asking around about various topics Kathy writes in her notebook and gathering information. That being said, every once in a while you open up a new area to explore and sleuth about, and there are plenty of puzzles to test your thinking skills.
A director's cut version was released on October 26, 2021, featuring touched-up graphics, extended story, including an expanded ending, and new areas with new puzzles.
Due to the game having a mystery plot, expect marked and unmarked spoilers!
The game provides examples of :
- 555: All phone numbers start with 555.
- Abortion Fallout Drama: Kathy had a teen pregnancy terminated, possibly because she saw her own parents as a bad example. She does however still have nightmares from it. Depending on dialog choices, Kathy can either express remorse, claim she did what she had to do, or assert that she did nothing wrong.
- Abusive Parents: Sharon Evans wasn't exactly fit to raise Kathy, and it's confirmed that she was at the very least emotionally abusive to Kathy.
- Affably Evil: Father Isaac.
- All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: Played with. The Black Hats are criminals, but most of them are pretty easy-going and helpful. Most.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: In the Director's Cut version it is possible to unlock new, though purely cosmetic designs for Kathy's chopper, if you manage to happen upon the right secret interactions. The various options also changes the design of her helmet.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Kathy is able to press information from the operator at the air-force base by playing the sexist card.
- Berserk Button: Grandma Rain loses her typical politeness when the Black Hats come up, blaming them for how her son ended up.
- Big Bad: Possibly the Crimson One. He helps Kathy several times but he seems to be using her for his own means and lies about having control over Eileen's soul.
- Black-and-White Insanity: When Kathy speaks to Big Beau about her family, he blames Joseph of this, telling her that her grandfather had an extremely narrow definition of "good" and "evil", and that he believes this was the reason why her father, Brian, ended up falling out with him.
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Kathy has this conservation when confronting Father Issac with the Red Scythe plant, which has psychedelic properties.Kathy: You know something about this plant, right?
Father Issac: Oh, yes, a link to the divine. They help by preparing the body for unity with God.
Kathy: So, you've drugged people with it?
Father Issac: Such a crude choice of words. It has been one component of my sacred work, yes.
- Broken Base: In-Universe. Dave mentions that one of the reasons why he and Clyde have somewhat of a beef with each other is because the latter said that Star Trek: The Next Generation is better than Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Bottle Episode: Day 2 is spent within Kathy's dorm.
- But Thou Must!: When Lenny nervously asks Kathy if she'd like to go eat foot with him, the player has a variety of choices:No.
Actually, I'd rather eat a foot.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Downplayed. As she makes her escape from the Sheriff's Station lock-up, Kathy walks past Sheriff Boyks' office and overhears him in the middle of what is heavily implied to be a bit of Intimate Telecommunications. She quickly decides not to listen in on him and just keep on walking.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Dave's disk for hacking passwords comes in handy a second time. The same goes for Kathy's stun gun.
- Chronically Killed Actor: Goober claims to be one In-Universe.
- Clueless Deputy: Downplayed with Lenny. He proves to be really quite helpful at several points in the game, unlike the overtly hostile and dismissive Sheriff Boyks, but he is also a bit awkward, timid, and unlucky.
- Cobweb of Disuse: When Kathy finds Joseph's old typewriter in the attic, it is covered in cobwebs.
- Concealing Canvas: There is a safe behind the painting in Isaac's room at the church.
- Conveniently Timed Distraction: You'd think Kathy wouldn't be allowed in the cellblock at the sheriff's office, and you'd also think you need to get back there anyway. You'd probably also think you need to find a way to distract the officer at the desk so you can get back there undetected. Well, you don't. Whenever you go to open the doors the sheriff will very conveniently call to Lenny at that exact moment, letting you slip inside undetected.
- Cool Bike: Kathy's maroon chopper, which she has nicknamed "The Kathymobile". The Black Hat's boss, Big Beau, comments with some genuine admiration on some of the modifications she has done to it.
- Crazy Homeless People: Downplayed with Goober. He tells you a lot of tall tales, occasionally makes inappropriate remarks, and sometimes rambles about weird stuff and conspiracy theories, but for the most part he is pretty lucid and has quite a bit of insight into the past of Conwell Springs.
- Creepy Child: Several times does Kathy encounter an eerie little boy with black hair. He turns out to be the boy she never had due to her abortion.
- Cruelty Is the Only Option: Kathy has to use her stun gun on Goober to distract a nurse. She feels pretty bad about it afterwards. He himself doesn't mind though as it improved the scene he was acting out.
- Cryptic Conversation: Frequently among people involved with the mysterious lights in the forest. Unlike most examples, the speaker often wants to make more sense than they can.Kathy: Why are you constantly speaking in riddles?!
Jimmy: Why do you assume I have a choice?
- Dark and Troubled Past: Numerous characters in Conwell Springs are dealing with all sorts of issues by the time Kathy returns.
- Kathy's father walked out on her, her mother fed her lies about her grandparents and was generally a strain on her, she had an abortion in her teens, and finally committed her mother to an institution for her own sanity.
- Mary-Elizabeth Rain watched as her husband lost his closest friend, her troubled son abandoned his family, her granddaughter was taken by her unstable mother, and then her husband entered a vegetative state for seemingly no reason.
- Sue Myers lost her daughter to suicide. Mr. Myers couldn't deal with his despair and eventually ended up in jail, leaving her to take care of their mentally-ill son alone.
- Said mentally-ill son, Nathan, was manipulated by Lily into holding her underwater, not understanding what would happen.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kathy's one, befitting her role as an amateur detective.
- Delinquent Hair: Kathy has it.
- Disappeared Dad: Kathy's father bailed on his family when Kathy was young. Grandma Rain is disappointed, but unsurprised, having seen no trace of him herself. It is indicated throughout the game that her father is actually very remorseful about how things turned out, but he just doesn't have the courage to apologize to Kathy.
- Dissonant Serenity: Father Isaac always speaks in a calm, almost soothing tone of voice, even when he has been exposed.
- Down the Rabbit Hole: Happens to Kathy on day five as she enters the abyss to face the Mending. The trope name is even the name of the achievement for reaching day five.
- The Dragon: Isaac Price, although he believes the Crimson One has abandoned him and is largely acting on his own.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Numerous faces like Charles Wade, his bodyguard, and Beau the Biker show up at Joseph's funeral long before Kathy shares a conversation with them.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Kathy finds out her roommate, Eileen's middle name is "Mildred" and tries to taunt her over it next time they meet. Eileen immediately returns fire with her knowledge of Kathy's own silly-sounding middle name note .
- Empty Shell: Kathy's grandfather became a vegetable after the incident in '81.
- Evil Counterpart: Kathy's mirror persona in the otherworld.
- Hairpin Lockpick: Kathy uses a bent paperclip to open her jail cell.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: In a Director's Cut exclusive scene, upon discovering that Nathan killed Lilly, Kathy is confronted by Sue, who holds her at gunpoint and demands to know who else knows about what she has just found out. Kathy's more flippant answer to the question is something to behold:Kathy: Oh, gee. Well, there is my neighbor, the mailman, the donut girl on the corner... Hm... I'missing someone... Oh, yeah: The cops.
- Hopeless Suitor: Lenny tries to ask Kathy out early in the game. No option to accept is given. In fact giving the harshest possible response is good for an achievement. Kathy later agrees to a date with him but the story ends without any follow up at all.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Lily had her brother Nathan drown her instead of some other means of suicide.
- Immune to Mind Control: Implied with Nathan who doesn't seem to be affected by the mysterious lights in the forest.
- The Maze: The forest north of Conwell is this. Without a thermometer that is.
- Mundanger: While the main threat is a supernatural one, there are plenty of very mundane fears — your grandfather turning catatonic, your already emotionally abusive mother going so crazy that you've got to commit her to an asylum to have a halfway normal life, your more-or-less best friend getting abducted by a religious fanatic...
- My God, What Have I Done?: Kathy says this after killing the representation of her mother in the Otherworld.
- Necessary Evil: Father Isaac assumes himself to be this. When Kathy shows him he is wrong, he is Driven to Suicide.
- Nerd Glasses: Clyde wears glasses thick as ashtrays.
- Never Suicide: Played with. Nathan only killed Lily because she manipulated him into it. He clearly feels horrible about it and wouldn't have done it if he knew what she was asking.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Kathy's epiphany in the otherworld.
- The Ophelia: Lily, drowning imagery and all.
- Orphaned Punchline: When Kathy befriends Sue via smoking, there is a cut to the next scene where Kathy delivers a punchline to some joke and both start laughing.Kathy: ...And then he realized, it wasn't his bong!
- Parents as People: Beau lays this out for Kathy: Joseph Rain was a good man and deserved respect, but he saw the world in black and white terms and despised anyone that didn't fall under his world-view. His son and Kathy's father, Brian, may have been a deadbeat and a horrible father but he likely ended up this way due to Joseph's poor parenting.
- Police Are Useless:
- Sheriff Boyks claims to be too busy to deal with Kathy, as he assigns his Deputy to get a present for his mom. He impedes Kathy's investigation at numerous points, and the local biker gang dismisses him as a nuisance, saying he is nothing compared to the former Sheriff, Truman. He's much more helpful after Isaac Price's kidnapping scheme has been revealed.
- Ex-Sheriff Truman never solves any of the crimes connected to the main plot and Beau claims that he was mostly a tool for the real law in town, Joseph Rain. That said, he also adds that Truman "ran a tight ship" that Boyks can't compare too.
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: When Dave mentions TNG over the phone, Kathy doesn't know what he is talking about.
- Retired Badass: Joseph Rain stepped down from his position as a US Air Force pilot to tend to his family and the old family farm. Joseph was evidently quite the war hero, being highly decorated and highly respected for his service in World War II, remaining a revered figure in the Air Force even into the 1990s. It's quite telling that the only person Kathy meets that doesn't know him is mentally-challenged Nathan as well as Clyde and Dave who have no business with either the town or the military.
- Sequel Hook: The game ends with Kathy noticing that she and Eileen make a good team, and she jokingly tells her to try not to be kidnapped next time. Eileen expresses incredulity about Kathy saying "next time". And then in The Stinger, there is a short scene of the Crimson One watching them menacingly from a distance. Then again there's also the subtitle "A Detective is Born".
- Single Tear: When exploring her grandfather's old storage unit, Kathy finds a custody appeal filed against her mother. The realization that her grandfather was looking out for her until the very end, makes Kathy overcome with emotion and fell a tear, though she quickly regains composure.
- Sinister Minister: Father Isaac regularly drugs and kidnaps people around town and seemingly sacrifices their souls to an old god... all in the name of "saving" them. The concept of asking permission from his followers or the fact the procedure leaves the victims catatonic doesn't seem to faze him.
- Spiritual Successor: To The Blackwell Series and LucasArts point-and-clicks.
- Shout-Out: A few obvious ones.
- Kathy rides a Corley Motors Motorcycle
- The general plot and settings have allusions (including a Sheriff named Truman) to Twin Peaks and the final stretch of the game draws heavily from some of the weirder aspects of the show. In addition, quite a bit of the soundtrack is overtly inspired by some of the more of Angelo Badalamenti's more synth-driven pieces from the Twin Peaks soundtrack.
- There is also Kathy's comment upon studying a stuffed owl:"Contrary to popular belief, I don't believe the owls are more than they seem."
- There is also Kathy's comment upon studying a stuffed owl:
- Speaking of Twin Peaks, a good chunk of the plot deals with a bright red plant with mind-altering properties, which is directly tied to the influence of a supernatural interloper.
- "Kathy" is the first name of the female lead in Singin' in the Rain.
- The game's entire plot centers around a small town being impacted by a circular Eldritch Abomination that has controlled the area for longer than anyone could possibly recall. Jimmy Cochran is outright stated to have become obsessed with removing all circular shapes from his body.
- Stuffed into a Locker: Kathy eventually has do this to Lenny with an evidence locker to get him out of the way in order to make her escape from the Sheriff Station's lock-up. When Kathy apologizes to Lenny afterwards, he quips that the experience gave him high school flashbacks.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The sweet and optimistic Eileen is the girly girl to Kathy's rough-edged and snarky tomboy.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Conwell Springs is full of complex issues plaguing almost everyone Kathy encounters, but the people are generally pleasant. Then Eileen does the research and discovers that the number of missing person cases is way higher than the crime rate and that there are proportionally many mentally ill people living in the county. Old God-worshipping priests who regularly sacrifices souls will do that.
- Trippy Finale Syndrome: The finale is playing out in a surreal otherworld.
- Two Halves Make a Plot: You have to merge two halves of Nathan's drawing.
- [Verb] This!: Line when Kathy uses her taser on Isaac: "Eat this!"
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: Getting several of the achievements requires acts of petty cruelty, or at least suggesting Kathy engage in acts of petty cruelty, even though she won't actually do it. Like saying she should burn some bibles or her roommate's teddy bear, or tasing a character when it's not required to solve a puzzle. And yes, there is a time where tasing someone is required to solve a puzzle and it's not fending off an attacker.
- We All Live in America: In the Black Hats MC, there is a Running Man exit sign which are usually seen in Europe or Asia instead of the American EXIT sign most commonly seen in the United States (which is required by law due to federal building codes). This is a small oversight given the creators of the game are based in rural Sweden.
- Wham Line: Big enough that it changes the game from a normal mystery to something more supernatural.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the original version of the game, Nathan and Sue vanish from the story after Kathy solves the mystery of Lily's death. Considering that Sue likely returned home to a painting of her son drowning her daughter, it's in Kathy's best interest to keep her distance. A variation of But Thou Must! occurs here: you are unable to destroy the underlying painting for their sake. This eventually gets addressed in the Director's Cut edition of the game: After solving the mystery of Lily's death, Sue confronts Kathy at gunpoint, admitting that she knew all along that Nathan had a hand in her sister's demise, but also that Nathan was more than likely manipulated by Lilly into doing the deed and didn't understand the implications of what he was doing. Sue is mostly concerned that Kathy keeps quiet about what she has discovered, because she fears that it getting out mean Nathan will get locked away in an institution, and she cannot bear to lose the only child she has left, and she is willing to kill Kathy if she cannot convince her that she won't tell anyone. Following this, there is an extended scene where Kathy asks Nathan about what happened, and it becomes clear, that no, the poor guy really doesn't understand anything about what has been happening; neither the supernatural events or his suicidal sister pressuring him into killing her.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When meeting her grandpa's ghost in the otherworldly place, Kathy is reluctant to say goodbye to him, telling him that she is not ready to lose him again after having just found him and that she isn't not sure what she will do without him. In response, Joseph offers her some warm encouragement.Joseph: You don't need me, Kathy. You never did. You're stronger than you'll ever know. I'm so proud of the woman you've become.
- You Have to Believe Me!: When caught by the police breaking into Isaac's office, Kathy can attempt to prove that he kidnapped Eileen, only to quickly get sent to the slammer. Alternatively...