The first game for Current-Generation consoles from the Persona team is here. Catherine is a bit different from those games in the fact that it isn’t an RPG. Instead of beating down mobs of demons, Vincent climbs away to safety on a crumbling tower. It’s a completely different take on what we would expect from Atlus, but does it make for an impressive title? Let’s find out!
• The compelling story of Vincent awaits those that dare take it on. Vincent seems like an average guy, he’s always between jobs, and he doesn’t want to rush his love life. Suddenly, he starts to have strange nightmares in which he has to rush away from death. In the real world he’s trying to keep a smooth relationship with his girlfriend Katherine with a K. He meets a woman in a bar named Catherine with a C, and immediately finds himself waking up with her beside him. To make matters all the worse, he finds out that his nightmares could lead to his real death.
• Vincent’s real life is handled through two different types of cut-scenes. The first is usually a small well animated video of characters interacting, or moving about through the day. The in-game cut-scenes take over not soon after, and add a more personal touch to the story. It’s almost like the characters are being recorded via a high definition camera. The stages have their own life to them, but you’ll hardly pay much attention to anything but the blocks.
• The fundamentals of Catherine are actually fairly simple. In the time when Vincent is awake, he will spend time in the “Stray Sheep” bar. He can walk around to talk to different patrons to befriend them, and he can also receive messages on his phone. Time will pass as he talks to different people in the bar, and the patrons will leave and enter at different times. The conversations will change as Vincent becomes closer to each person, and he’ll have a chance to earn or lose karma.
His phone can send replies to any of the people texting him, and Vince can choose a variety of messages to return to them. He will also gain or lose respect in the eyes of the person the message is directed to. The phone is also used for looking at awards and also saving the game. When Vince drifts into a nightmarish slumber, this is when the game world picks up. The fundamentals are quite simple to start, but hard to fully master.
Scaling the tower quickly will earn more points as Vincent picks up coins. A combo bar stacks with each new block that he rests his feet upon. This adds a bonus that offers more points for coins collected. In addition to coins, there are items scattered about that players can use in tight spots. If players get into situations where blocks crumble, there are items like the extra block that can save Vince’s life. As the game advances each of the stages becomes more dangerous.
New traps, sheep, and block types will often impede what was once smooth sailing. Things will become hectic very quickly, especially when reaching the boss areas on the end of each stage. Luckily Vincent can learn different techniques from the various sheep climbing alongside him. There are rest areas where the players can speak to the other unlucky sheep. He can even use the confessional booth, which asks a personal question of the player. This answer is measured against the rest of the community via a pie chart.
• Catherine is definitely a hate it or love it game. If you’re no fan of puzzles, you’re probably going to have a controller throwing, neck filled with veins while screaming at the top of your lungs, time. Even on the easiest difficulty, there isn’t anything easy about, Catherine. Once you reach the Doom Bride, and die for the 300th time. You’ll more than likely want to strangle whoever made that level, and it only gets worse from there.
• The controls can also be quite finicky at the most inappropriate moments. Since everything is mostly controlled by using the D-Pad. You’ll slip off of blocks at the wrong time, because you pushed the opposite direction of where the game wanted you to go. It actually takes a long time to get used to the controls, and it never really feels smooth. You’ll die a good amount of times from moving in the wrong direction.
• Children shouldn’t go anywhere near, Catherine, they probably shouldn’t even be in the same room. Everything that happens in Catherine is related to grown up issues between men and women. While it doesn’t show much in the form of nudity, some of the monsters contain a fair bit of innuendo. That and it’s heavy on blood and death, and there are cuss-words every which way. Some of the content might even upset a girlfriend or two, just based on how it relates to relationships… YIKES!
Catherine is without a doubt not for everyone. Puzzle lovers will fall for the gameplay, and eat up the leaderboards trying to get the best score. While those looking for a solid single-player experience, will beat it and have a very small reason to go back. As a puzzle game Catherine is extremely fun, but it should be a bit easier to control. It’s still worth a go if you can get it for a lower price, and or even possibly rent it. Catherine receives a B- from Half-Ass Gaming. Gameplay is best summed up as building a sand castle as fast as possible, and leave the area before the coast comes to wash it away.