Catherine is a puzzle-based survival horror game, where our main protagonist, Vincent Brooks finds himself in a strange and rather unexplainable mess. A one night stand will change his life forever.
- Worth The Time?Absolutely. Things may seem bleak and hopeless at times due to difficulty, but be sure to push through, it's worth it!
- Things LovedStrange and intriguing art-style. Devilishly, entrancing nightmarish sequences. Flexible soundtrack that fits the current situation. Fun, addictive and challenging gameplay. Interesting story that will keep players guessing.
- Things HatedInconsistent difficulty. Mouth animations may be irritable to some players.
- RecommendationIf you're a puzzle guy or gal who likes a rather interesting story, this is for you.
- Name: Catherine
- Genre: Puzzle Platformer
- Players: 1 - 2
- Multiplayer: Co-Op; Head-To-Head
- Platforms: Xbox 360 & PS3
- Developer: Atlus
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Price: R500 - R600
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
A strange rumor has been circulating that if someone falls in their dream and doesn’t wake up before landing, he’ll die in real life…
Not the most positive thought, but there you have it.
Every so often you get a game that sticks out of the crowd without any additional effort whatsoever. Catherine is a prime example of such a game.
You take control of a guy named Vincent Brooks. He is a poorly-paid systems engineer with little to no ambition, about to stumble into a situation beyond his very own comprehension. He is a faithful boyfriend, has a girlfriend named Katherine and they are your normal couple going about their daily lives. On a usual non-eventful evening after Vincent and his good friends were drinking at their favorite bar, the Stray Sheep, a very innocently looking girl dubbed Catherine enters the picture. She is persistent, and Vincent drinks more than his usual quota for the evening and one thing leads to another. He wakes up the following morning with Catherine in his bed. Things start to go really bad for this poor 32-year-old individual.
With all of this going round and about, strange rumors begin to circulate and pollute the airwaves of the local barmaids. Apparently, young men are dying off one by one. An odd and interesting fact begins to arise that most, if not all of these young men have been experiencing strange and rather vivid nightmares about climbing to try and get away from “something.” Vincent, the poor protagonist of this rather morbid story, is also one of the unlucky souls who experiences the nightmare. Why is that? It is believed that these strange nightmares are connected to young men that are cheating their better halves. What happens in these dreams? Ah, yes, that’s where things get rather interesting.
If I were to to break Catherine down to all the different elements that makes it a unique, rather strange and captivating experience it would be as follow. First off, the art-style and overall look of the game is very much inspired by the Japanese type anime. Some cinematics are your typically drawn anime, where most of the other cut-scenes and gameplay are of similar style, but instead cell-shaded models. If you’re an anime type person, you’ll be at home with Catherine.
The narrative parts of the game takes place mostly in our beloved bar, the Stray Sheep. You will have the opportunitys to talk to your local bar fellows and find out more about the mystery plaguing the town; send text messages; drink; change the music on the jukebox; and play an arcade game that works on the premise of pushing and pulling blocks. This game is also found in the main nightmare sequence, and it’s called Rapunzel. The locals in the bar are a rather strange bunch of people that offers interesting and somewhat cryptic advise. It is also necessary to mention that the mouth animations are not very convincing, and will probably irritate a small amount of players. It’s nothing game-breaking, though.
The gameplay is where all the fun is to be had. This is a puzzle game, yes, but not your average puzzle game. It takes the rather simple principle of pushing and pulling and gives it a unique and enticing flavour. The nightmare sequences consists of these gameplay mechanics, where your main goal is to reach the top of a ridiculously formed stack of blocks. Sounds simple enough, although it isn’t. You will push and pull your way to victory, but victory is not always an easy task. The first puzzles in the game will be easy and you will breeze through them, but you will be tested to the point of frustration. The puzzles are always fun, but as you near the end of the game you will begin to struggle and die. A lot.
One of the very few qualms I have about the game is that it can get really frustrating at times, even on the “Easy” difficulty setting. It is difficult, most definitely, but ultimately rewarding. Do not fear, retries and other interesting items can be found during the levels. These items will aid you when things seem rather dire and hopeless. Pillows will give you extra retries, where you will come across another pick-up that will give you the chance to deploy your very own standard block. This helps you out of a tricky situation. There are various other pick-ups that will be available to you as well. There is also a vendor between the levels where you can pony up some of your hard earned coins for an item, if you feel that you will need the extra support. The animations of Vincent when is he climbing, in his boxer shorts and pillow under the arm, can been seen as quirky, but it matches the overall aesthetic well.
At the end of each night, and after a series of towers has been climbed, you will face a boss character. This isn’t your traditional boss-fight, more like your own “boss-puzzle-avoiding-and extra stressful-level”. Boss characters vary a lot, and can be quite a disturbing sight. These fights will keep you on the edge of your seat, while sweat pours down from your brow. I would like to tell you more about these boss characters, however I don’t want to spoil anything. The whole “wow-element” comes from your typical “WTF-moments”. There is no better description than this.
Speaking of your typical weird moments, I think it’s super important to mention the way you and your fellow dreamers see and experience each other. Sheep. Doesn’t make sense? Let me explain: you perceive the other people in your dreams as mere sheep. They will stand on 2 legs and talk. Each will have their own characteristics, whether it be a tie, sunglasses or long hair. You can talk to these sheep, learn more about their current happenings in their lives and learn new techniques. There is also a connection to these sheep and your real life.
When you’re in the Stray Sheep you will talk to people and receive text messages, which you can reply to. These interactions will have you making decisions, however small or large they may appear, they will have an impact on the story as it unfolds. There are several endings to the game, and each is determined by your actions. A meter will appear on the right-hand side of the screen with two colors: blue and red. This meter will appear after you’ve made a decision and will determine Vincent’s thoughts and reactions. The story itself took a rather strange and wildly unexpected turn, which I did not see coming. No matter how simple or ordinary the situation of poor old Vincent’s journey appears at first, it will not stay like that for long.
The game consists of three different parts: Golden Playhouse is the main game; Babel has four co-op levels that need to be unlocked; and Colosseum is where you and a buddy can test your skills competitively to see who can reach the top of the climb first. All these modes are fun, but your primary reason to play Catherine is for the main story. The main story will keep you busy for about 15-20 hours.