Catherine is the latest game from Atlus, and is by far their most original and ambitious project since Persona 3. It's a story driven puzzle game, if you can imagine that, but it contains so much of the charm Atlus is known for, that fans will feel right at home from the start. The game tells the story of Vincent Brooks, a simple man who has a job, a girlfriend, and a bunch of friends to go drinking with. His girlfriend begins to question whether their relationship is moving forward, implying she wishes to be married. While all of this is happening, Vincent meets a girl at the bar, and suddenly wakes up in bed with her the next morning. On top of his new burden, rumors are floating around about young men who wake up mysteriously dead. Vincent begins having nightmares about climbing complex walls of blocks, occasionally running away from morbid creatures. While it may strike you as a strange plot for a video game, it's extremely well written, well paced, and it leaves you caring about the characters from the start, despite the game being a fraction of the length of the brand's other games.
The gameplay in Catherine is split into two portions. The game is split up into days, similar to the Persona series, and each day includes a different series of events, fleshed out through cutscenes both animated, and in-game. After the cutscenes end, usually at the end of the day, Vincent is at the Stray Sheep bar, drinking with his buddies. This is the first part of the gameplay. Vincent is able to talk to his friends, as well as strangers who come to the bar almost every night. They come at different times, so talking to some may mean missing the conversations of others. Each character in the bar has their own story, and you can only learn about it if you speak to them often. Vincent also receives text messages while at the bar, and the player can respond to them using different dialogue options.
Many of the dialogue options in Catherine lead to a change in Vincent's morality meter, which ultimately decides the ending you will receive. The second portion of gameplay involves Vincent's dreams, where the puzzles take place. Vincent must climb a series of puzzles every night, usually ending in one that involves running away from a boss. The gameplay here can get extremely difficult on the normal and hard difficulties. The normal difficulty, however, allows you to undo your actions, albeit limited to about 9 times per section. In these portions, the player has to push and pull blocks to form pathways up to the top of each level. The blocks defy gravity and connect at their edges, and there are some special blocks like ice blocks, bomb blocks, and spike traps. Vincent can only climb up one block unless he is augmented by special items. He can also hang from blocks, which allows him to travel around the puzzles. These portions are really well designed, and in the later stages can be extremely frustrating, but satisfying to finish.
There are a few problems, however. You can't really see the back of the puzzle, which can be frustrating since Vincent's controls reverse when he's on the other side. Also, checkpoints make the game a bit easier, as you can respawn there when you retry, but in one case in a later boss level, I reached the checkpoint as the blocks under me were about to fall, leaving me forced to restart the level. Another thing, which really isn't a problem but would have saved a lot of frustration (especially in hard mode) is that the game doesn't tell you if you're out of possible moves. But like I said, this isn't exactly a problem, but more so a design decision. Also, some of the morality meter questions are unclear, and neither of the options seem to be good or bad, but there's usually another opportunity to get your moral points back.
The game was developed by the Persona team at Atlus, so it retains much of the same art style and morbid themes that the Persona series is famous for. This was an excellent choice by them, since that style fits Catherine so conveniently. The music was done by Persona composer Shoji Meguro, and is a crazy mix between pop, jazz, hip hop, and classical. Amongst the original tracks, there are rearrangements of classic classical scores, from composers, such as Gustav Holst, and Frederic Chopin. It's a very nice soundtrack. Overall, the presentation is unmatched by most games on the market today.
Catherine feels like it was made with a lot of love. The presentation is excellent, the gameplay is very original, and the plot is genuinely interesting. Despite the handful of problems it has, it's a must have game for anyone, and an experience you won't soon forget.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Atlus’ foray into the current generation gaming consoles, Catherine, has hit over 200,000 units sold within its first week. And what better way to celebrate than by having some cake? Catherine was developed by the Persona Team, albeit they exchanged classic RPG gameplay with an edgy horror puzzle platform bonanza. In Catherine, the player is in the shoes of a 32-year old Vincent Brooks, whose long-time girlfriend Katherine, starts bringing up marriage. The next day he wakes up in bed with Catherine, a blonde bombshell, in what seems to be a one-night stand. Although it is up to the player whether it really is just a one-time deal or more.
Catherine has been an unusual and exciting release from Atlus. Not only does it have unconventional gameplay, but it also has one of the strangest deluxe packages I've ever seen. Here are my photos from Catherine's launch day!
The gaming industry of today seems to be cluttered with titles of the same nature. Where's the new? The Bold? The step away from the remakes of yesterday's titles? I'm not sure about you but First Person Shooter: McShooty Pants (now with more shooting), just doesn't seem all that innovative to me. Fortunately Atlus is busting out something relatively original to break up the fog of re-runs that has dominated the industry as of late. The name of the game Catherine. Not sure it's innovative? Just check out the trailer.
Catherine is a rated M for mature, action-adventure puzzle game, for the PS3 and XBox 360 gaming consoles. Sporting 4 levels of difficulty, (the hardest of which had to be toned down for the American version since Japanese gamers cried it was simply too difficult) the puzzle style game play kicks off in the realm of the main character's nightmares. For one stage in particular you must climb a series of blocks manipulating them under the time limit in order to make it too the top and escape the demonic fire spitting baby pursuing you. This Vincent guy has some pretty messed up nightmares, no? One of the many cool features of this game is dual multi-player modes it has. Co-op in order to make the challenges of the puzzles that much easier, and competitive in order to increase the fun by screwing over your friends. Of course that's not all the game has, graphically its beautiful, and it has a story line to match. The main character Vincent is dating the beautiful Katherine, and while he claims to be in love with her, he's not quite ready to tie the knot. Unfortunately things get complicated when the beautiful blonde Catherine wakes up in his life, and his bed. His nightmares start soon after that, which wouldn't be that big of a deal if it weren't for the recent outbreak of unfaithful men turning up dead after suffering from similar nightmares.
Atlus has turned the themes of morality and fidelity into major features of the game. From a real time morality meter, which changes for the world to see according to your answers to the questions the game poses, to the multiple game paths and endings the game offers based on your in-game decisions regarding the situations both of the (C)Katherine's put you in.
As usual Atlus has included a ton of extra goodies for those who reserved a copy of the game. Normal pre-orders include an 11-track original soundtrack by Shoji Meguro, and a 36 page artbook. There's also a deluxe "Love is Over" edition which includes the 'empty hearts' T-shirt worn by Catherine in the game, the polka dot themed boxers Vincent's so fond of, and a pillow case with the alluring Catherine on it, all packaged in a pizza box just like the one from the 'Stray Sheep' bar. The game hits our shores July 26th of this year, if you want to try something new pick it up for $59.99 or grab the deluxe version for $79.99. Check out the official website for even more information http://www.catherinethegame.com/
Catherine, the latest game from the Atlus Persona Team, is being released in Japan on February 17th, and they were nice enough to release a Japanese demo! Instinctively, I logged onto my Japanese PSN account and eagerly downloaded it. These are my thoughts on the game that has had everyone completely confused since its announcement.
First of all, Atlus has gone out of its way yet again to make the presentation of this game absolutely stunning. The Megaten art style translates really well to 720p, and Shoji Meguro's soundtrack does not disappoint. This time around however, everything's gotten a little more risque, so this game is definitely NSFW. The out-of-gameplay experience is shown through cutscenes, some of which are drawn animations, and some of which are animated in the in-game engine. I must say that I (surprisingly) prefer the engine cutscenes. The in-game graphics are beautiful, well animated, and despite not having an amazing polygon count, really work well. It's like watching a high budget anime movie, except it's all in-game. The cutscenes in the demo involve Vincent, his friends, and his girlfriend Katherine. (Note: Vincent's real girlfriend is Katherine, and the girl on the box and in the header image is Catherine.) I don't speak or read Japanese, so I can't really give any details on the dialogue.