Hi, have you met Catherine? She’s beautiful, sexy, blue eyed and blonde. And she would give anything to be with you. What’s that, you’re already seeing someone? Oh, dear.
Catherine is the latest game developed by Atlus, developers of the Persona franchise, and is also their first game to début on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. The title is much unlike their previous titles, as it was a puzzle game rather than their usual role-playing game fare; although the game does feature some elements of role-playing in the story itself.
Release Date: 10th February 2012 (EU), 26th July 2011 (US), 17th January 2011 (JP)
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Rating: 15 (BBFC), M (ESRB), 18 (PEGI)
The player plays protagonist Vincent as he struggles to deal with a pretty nasty situation. You see, Vincent cheated on his beloved Katherine, with another woman named Catherine. He finds himself in quite the predicament. On one hand he’s being drawn to the new and dangerous Catherine, but on the other hand Katherine is having his child.
While the moral obligations are pretty clear, Catherine gives leeway for a more Vincent to follow his urges into a more free path. The game features moments where the player is questioned on their beliefs in regards to relationships. These questions ultimately affect Vincent’s judgement, leading to cinematic scenes playing out differently depending on your alignment, and ultimately leads to the multiple endings. Furthermore, the alignment towards either girl can also be affected by text messages that the player may customize before sending to one of the love interests.
Catherine, the video game, can be considered relatively deep as well. Vincent is forced to experience nightmares – the core gameplay sections. He is told that he has been entered into this nightmare realm as a result of someone wishing him there, and he must climb to the top of a tower in order to receive his freedom. Others join him in this nightmare, all of whom are perceived as sheep to hide their identity. These entire sections are completely symbolic, much as his choice between the two girls represents two completely different lifestyles. It’s an incredibly well developed story that really stands out. Unfortunately, the game chooses to point out its own symbolism and metaphors towards the end, which I honestly feel depreciates the deep themes that the title portrays.
The gameplay is predominantly a puzzle and platformer. The player must move giant blocks to build a path to their goal at the top of the tower. Each stage has a different theme and escalates in difficulty. An example of one such theme is the ice stage, where Vincent runs the risk of sliding off of the tower and to his death. While these themes bring with them new challenges, they also breed new strategies. It’s an expertly crafted game, and the quality shows in these stages. This isn’t all there is to the game; however, as the player may explore the bar to converse with other individuals who are also suffering the same dreams. These individuals have their own plot threads in which Vincent can help guide them to overcome their own problems.
As per usual with Atlus’ titles, the soundtrack is brilliant, and the visuals are stunning and stylish – so long as you don’t mind the anime-esque appearance. Catherine sounds and looks beautiful, as do the rest of the cast. The English voice acting work is handled better than past Atlus titles as well. Everything is exceptionally well handed in the audio and visual department.
The title also features multiplayer components. The player can cooperate with a friend as they must climb the tower together, or compete against each other for the higher score. The game also features side challenges for the player that are unlocked by achieving a gold trophy in each stage. These trophies aren’t to be confused with the PlayStation Network trophies, of course.
Overall, Catherine is a great title that’s worth picking up. It’s everything Atlus does well in a game, and the experience is similarly as good. I would love to see what else Atlus could come up with should they ever return to the puzzle genre.
Catherine was beaten on Normal Difficulty, following the Katherine path, and the game was played through one and a half times. For those who regard score as an important factor to a review, Catherine obtains the 9/10 score. This signifies that Catherine is an almost perfect game as it achieves what it sets out to do exceptionally well, but may be held back by very minor gripes.
CrashScreen is a regular author of GamingAdvance, who first established the website. You may contact CrashScreen, through the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.