Available On: Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3
How many of you have been in a relationship? I can’t see your hands, so ultimately that was useless. How many of you love block puzzles? If you put up your hands to that then you should check out Catherine. Catherine is a bizarre game made by Atlus; bizarre even isn’t a good enough description for the game. You play Vincent, a man torn between his long time girlfriend Katherine and his newest ‘mistress’ Catherine. The story is told through two methods, one takes place in a bar with your friends and fellow patrons, and the other is in your NIGHTMARES and dozens of block puzzles. Also, you and everyone else in your nightmare is a sheep; oh, and they are sharing the same nightmare WITH you.
Catherine is one of my random blind buys where I buy it just because it looks somewhat unique or weird. I’ve done it before with Deadly Premonition, and I was hoping I’d enjoy Catherine. In the end, after finishing the game, I had lots of fun with it. I haven’t played a game like it before and I doubt I’ll play a game like it in the future. It wasn’t a perfect experience, mind you, but it was an enjoyable one. I’d gladly play it again, and there are eight endings, so there’s something to strive for at least.
The block puzzles provide the actual gameplay part of the game, so I’m going to start there. They are challenging and the first few are fun but they get boring fast. Especially in the last couple nights of your nightmare when each night has 4 to 5 block puzzles you have to solve. However an addendum to all that, the last night, arguably the climax of the game, the block puzzles are fun and you can solve them intuitively and quickly. That’s probably why looking back on the game I have such a positive outlook on it. If the last few couple sections were dull or tedious, I’d probably dislike the game greatly. With all that, the block sections can get locked down with the occasional confusing control flip (ie: when you get behind a block your controls flip for no reason.) Also there are times when you will be fighting against the camera, which is never fun.
The bar section of the games is where you control Vincent outside of your nightmares. The plot kept me engaged, and normally I don’t like long cutscenes but I didn’t mind them for this. The acting was good and the twists and turns were great. The ending kind of exploded on itself in Japanese oddness, but that can be somewhat expected in a Japanese game– especially with how odd it is right from the get go. The cutscenes being long may be an issue for some gamers, just a warning now if you’re trying to get into this game some of the cutscenes can run upwards of twenty to thirty minutes. This is very much a film where every few scenes you have to stop and solve some block puzzles.
Overall I’d recommend Catherine to anybody who wanted to try something new. If you’re tired of the regular old FPSs or Action RPGs why don’t you live a little and play a truly unique (and often bizarre) game. It has a unique story and some fun puzzles but, without question, they can get monotonous quickly. The difficulty can also be a problem, as this game is very hard. The story can also hit interesting notes if you have had relationship issues, it almost can hit moments of soul searching. If you like unique and haven’t tried it yet go do it now, the game is worth it.