Catherine Review

Catherine (Available on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/Puzzle
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Catherine M for Mature for a variety of reasons.  There’s a lot of cursing, alcohol use, sexual innuendo, partial nudity and violence.  Needless to say this is a game for adults only.

Plays like: Umm…nothing really.  It’s part Q-Bert and part dating sim.

Review basis: Completed the PS3 version with the ‘good’ ending on Normal difficulty.  Currently replaying to unlock the remaining trophies.

Catherine is one of the most unusual, but creative videogames released in the last decade.  That’s also why it’s one of the few released this summer you shouldn’t be without.  Don’t allow the bizarre screenshots or funky trailers to scare you away, Catherine is also extremely fun and challenging.

The Great:

Catherine is different…really different.  How many times have you played a game that can’t be compared with anything else on the market?  Truly? Catherine is a puzzle game at heart, wrapped around a social/dating sim.  This strange mix is so excellent you may end up losing sleep over it, like I did.

Will you be able to escape the nightmare?

The Good:

+ A fantasic story. Vincent Brooks has dated Katherine for the past few years and she wants to marry.  Vincent’s unsure, and spends evenings with his buddies at their local bar getting smashed.  One night he meets a woman named Catherine and finds himself in bed with her the next morning.  You can’t begin to imagine where the story proceeds from there.

+ Your choices are crucial to the outcome.  Do you ditch Katherine for Catherine or try to salvage your long-term relationship?  Your choices don’t just affect the plot, but directly impact gameplay.  Drink too much the night before and you’ll regret it come bed time.

+ Fun, challenging and addictive.  Every evening Vincent lives out a nightmare in which he must climb a series of blocks to reach a doorway high above.  As he ascends, lower blocks fall into oblivion.  Vincent also needs to figure out how to connect the blocks in order to climb them.  Throw in a few helpful items, and hopefully Vincent survives the nightmare.

Don't take the sheep for-granted, they can be most useful.

+ Rewarding.  Expect to die…a lot.  There are many ways to move the blocks around, but Vincent’s movements are limited.  The game can occasionally stump you, and if Vincent procrastinates too long, he falls to his doom.  Upon reaching the destination, you’re treated to another excellent sim chapter that dives deeper into the intricate storyline.

+ The Stray Sheep is an amazing place.  This bar acts as the game’s hub.  Here you can talk to the various patrons, play an arcade game or mess with your cell phone.  Everything you do at the Stray Sheep links to the nightmare world, so you constantly have to be on your toes and make careful choices.

Like most people, Vincent spends a lot of his time at his local pub.

+ Extras galore.  When you initially complete the game, a co-op and competitive two-player mode unlocks that’s a blast to play.  Every nightmare can also be replayed to better your skills and improve your standing.  Pre-ordering the game netted you an art book and soundtrack from Atlus, both of which are awesome.

The So-So:

+/- The voice acting isn’t amazing, but fits anime style.  Some actors simply overacted their portions, but for the most part it’s not bad.

What would you do in this situation?

The Ugly:

Sheep with horns, and red eyes.  Creepy!

The Lowdown:

Catherine is a wonderful game that should be experienced by anyone old enough to understand its charm.  I loved all the choices, multiple endings and Vincent’s moral dilemma.  Did he really cheat on his long-time girlfriend or is something else going on here?  There’s only one way to find out; you must play!

Katherine is a loving, but slightly annoying girlfriend. She doesn't deserve to be cheated on though. You know what they say about a woman's wrath right?

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 1) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +1 Inflation: Highly creative

Reason for -1 Deflation: A little too unique for some

13 thoughts on “Catherine Review”

  1. This game is definitely for me. I love games that go the creative route, doing something original rather than just following the herd. The demo was extremely promising so I’m really excited to get the full game. I’m more surprised at the kind of backlash the game is getting though. Whenever I see positive reviews, I see tons of comments that bash on the game, most of it for the story or anime style. I get that some people don’t like anime, but I’ll never understand the incessant need to bash on it at every possible moment.

  2. I planned to pick this game up ever since it was announced. I want this and Motostorm Apocalypse at one point. I am extremely afraid of the puzzle gameplay however. I don’t usually enjoy puzzle games, plus the difficulty will most likely turn me off.

  3. An excellent review bossman, and it’s great that you had fun, but I must confess that I’m not the least bit impressed with games like this. The cover alone is extremely bothersome to me. I guess you could say that games like Catherine which objectify women truly disgust and offend me. I know it’s nothing new, obviously, but I believe women deserve much better than this.

    Oh well, that’s just me. People are free to play this as they please. But I’m happy to avoid it :)

    1. I don’t really think that a somewhat sexual display always translates to obejctification of women, though it’s hard to argue with the idea that the marketing team used the cover to attract buyers.

      Anyway, the theme of the game is not “how much can I cheat and get away with it?” it’s “how do I deal with the moral dilemma of infidelity?” I like that the game’s morality choices actually seem logical, not a stark, binary character path that makes my character either really evil or really good. I think that games like Duke Nukem are FAR worse for women than something like Catherine, which more or less serves as a psychodrama about the male psyche.

      1. Alright, finally have the opportunity to respond here. Boy has life been crazy :)

        Anyway my friend, this will probably be a topic where we agree to disagree. I certainly won’t argue about Duke Nukem probably being worse. I read a couple things about how that game portrays women, and I just wanted to scream. However, I simply won’t let Catherine off the hook. What you perceive as a non-objectification here, I do the exact opposite.

        Just the mere fact that you mentioned ‘infidelity’ is enough to make me turn the other cheek. As if our world needs more depictions of it. I won’t pretend that I haven’t made wise choices with every game I’ve ever bought. For instance, I now can’t play Heavy Rain, and even games like Mass Effect are tough on my conscience. You see, the Bible beliefs I hold dear completely condemn these things. Women don’t exist to flaunt themselves. There’s nothing wrong with a woman looking beautiful, but if it’s not done modestly…which is entirely possible mind you, then to me it is wrong. Too many women leave little to the imagination in terms of what’s underneath their clothes, which begs you to wonder why they even wear any. Well the answer to that is simple: to acquire attention and cause men to fantasize about them. Are men completely at fault here? No, of course not, but society has absolutely abandoned the value and real beauty of a woman. Hollywood (TV, movies, magazines, etc.) dictates that, and everyone falls for it. Still doesn’t make it right. Again, even just the box art is plain wrong. It’s really not much different than porn, where men are taught to believe that women ‘want you’. Catherine exhibits that very concept by the striptease depicted there.

        As for Vincent, he’s just as much a part of the problem I believe. Based on Jarrod’s comments about him, I would classify him as the typical western adolescent, or ‘boy that can shave’. He’s avoiding the responsibility of taking a seemingly fine young lady to be his wife, and that’s pure childishness. Plus, Katherine expressing the desire to marry to Vincent is backwards. That’s his job. It’s certainly normal and OK to be scared/nervous about it, but the state of his relationship with Katherine is an exact reflection of the dating scene today. People have turned it into a game, rather than what it was designed for, to seriously contemplate marriage. To me, if you date, you better be seriously interested in making a decision about marriage. Otherwise, you’re just giving yourselves an excuse to be sexual with each other. Instead, he chooses to get plastered, and unsurprisingly he wakes up in bed with a woman he doesn’t even know. Sad.

        You could accuse me of being unreasonably fired up over a video game, that I shouldn’t be so bent out of shape over something pretend…but I reject that. Fantasy or not, it’s a manifestation of what really goes on in society, and I hate it. I’m also very aware that I’m in the minority here, but I’m not the least bit ashamed of that. I stand by what I believe.

  4. Thanks for all the nice comments guys. This is a really bizarre game, no question about it. In terms of gameplay alone it’s extremely tough, but it’s very rewarding. I like having the ability to try so many different things with the storyline. Overall it’s a really shocking game…in many different ways. It’s certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but just the same I think people may be surprised by how deep it really is.

  5. I went to EBgames recently and traded in a bunch of stuff for trade in credit and while I was looking for games I thought about picking up this game but looking at the back of the case I didn’t seem to peek my interest so I picked up Alice instead and a few other games. I might rent this one and check it out first tho.

    Great review!!

  6. I just got the 360 version on amazon yesterday. My local wal-mart didn’t have the game when I went there.

  7. I will be picking it up, not only because is kind of anime , i do love anime hence my nametag, but one thing i do love most than anime is games that dont follow the trend, i will get it for sure, nice to know you guys like it a lot, now is a non brainer.

  8. The game is fantastic so far, I’m at the 4th chapter and having a blast. The game is hard though, frustrating at some points. You know how I hate being chased, and the 3rd boss took me forever to beat. Can’t imagine what it will be like in the harder changes. Also regret buying the 360 version, didn’t realize this was a d-pad game.

  9. Just completed the game yesterday. Never thought I would have so much fun. By the end, I was getting so good at it that I was blasting through the levels. The hardest one for me is definitly the Level 5 boss because she’s just so fast. The baby with a chainsaw (Level 6 I think) was also no pushover. I think I’m gonna go for a 2nd playthrough at one point cuz I miss playing it already. This is my game of the year so far.

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