Catherine Review (PS3)

Catherine is a game I was really looking forward to. A game that isn’t about shooting or being an action hero. The game is also heavily Japanese, as it uses anime cutscenes mixed in with anime-style in-game cutscenes. The advertising was shamelessly promoting sex, as Atlus would use Catherine’s sex appeal to garner attention from teenage boys and people interested.

The story follows a regular guy named Vincent (who looks like Spike from Cowboy Bebop), who has a pretty girlfriend named Katherine and is now being tempted by the cute and wild Catherine. Things start to go crazy when Vincent gets nightmares. In the nightmare world, he has to climb up blocks (kind of like Qbert) to reach the top. Once he passes the stage, he wakes up to witness weird reports on the TV about guys dying from a mysterious death after sleeping. Vincent would later find out that cheating had something to do with the nightmares. What’s the connection to the mysterious deaths and cheating? The game tests players to see how faithful they would be to their video game girlfriend. Are you tempted enough to have a fling with a hot girl, or preserve a relationship with your current girlfriend.

When I first played the demo, I was disappointed in finding out that the actual gameplay consisted of Vincent moving blocks and climbing them. The puzzle platforming actually fits the theme of the game, as it represents Vincent’s nightmare. As I played the actual game more and more, I was hooked. Not only that, but I was also hooked on the characters, their story, and Vincent’s will to survive and become a better person. To prevent the climbing portion of the game from becoming repetitive, the levels offer many different types of blocks and environments, Vincent has many different ways to climb to the very top, and also the game will throw many different obstacles at Vincent. Special powerups found all over the nightmare world can help, like creating an extra block, destroying all the enemies on the screen, and more. I must say that this game is challenging. I picked the default easy mode, and some of these levels would take me forever to figure out.

In the nightmare world, you’re joined by other sheep, who are actually real people. The sheep sees you as a sheep too, but in the view of the players, we just see Vincent in his boxers, and horns sticking out of his head. As you progress, you can talk the the different sheep and get an understanding that each sheep did something wrong to end up in the nightmare world. You will later get to meet these sheep in the real world.

When not climbing blocks, players spend the rest of the game watching cut-scenes, interacting with NPCs, and reading/sending text messages. Much of the stuff that happens here help move the plot along. How you respond to the questions at the confessional in the nightmare world and how you text to Katherine and Catherine will affect the story. I’ve chosen the path of being faithful. So I would always be trying to stay away from Catherine and trying to be good with Katherine. The cool thing about the questions in the confessional is that the answers are sent online and collected, so that you can see the results from other players and see how you compare. For the most part, I picked the answers that most players picked.

In the end, your enjoyment of the game comes down to whether you’re invested in the story of Vincent trying to make sense of his cheating and nightmares and playing a very addictive puzzle platforming game. I gave this game a chance and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the challenge of climbing and moving boxes to reach to the top. I’d also like to add that the ending hits pretty close to home for me, as I know it will for many with a relationship.

The game doesn’t end once you complete the story once,  your choices and actions will affect which one of the eight endings you will get and online score boards of your best time and scores make this one game you will be able to play over and over.

And for you hardcore collectors don’t forget about the Catherine “Love is Over” Deluxe Edition full of special goodies like in the picture you see, and all early copies come bundled with an artbook and Soundtrack.

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Grade: B+

Available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

Playtime: Unlimited especially if you try hard mode

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