My Hands on Impressions of Catherine
I had been following every tid bit of info on this game ever since it was announced, A game made by ATLUS with in game cinematics from Studio 4C. I was sold before I even knew what type of game it was. The game was released early this year in Japan and last week in United States. However, it still does not have an Australian release date. That coupled with the fact that Australia have been banning nearly everything lately (not really only DOA:Dimensions and Mortal Kombat…but I can complain cant I?) My hopes of getting a chance to play this game were getting darker and darker by the second.
Thank goodness for local Anime stores because just yesterday I got my hands on the Game and was so excited I ran home as quick as I could and got right to it.
This game is yet to get a “bad” review so my expectations were very high and boy did it deliver. the opening cinematic was very well animated and engrossing, it got me really pumped up for the game I was so ready to start solving some puzzles.
At its very core Catherine is a Puzzle game, the goal of each level is to get to the top of a tower of blocks. Vincent has to pull, push, climb, and hang on these blocks in a series of strategic moves at a fairly fast pace. As you get to climb higher and higher, the difficulty of the puzzles increases and so does the rate at which the lowest levels of blocks crash. Each new level has new hazards like, blocks that can not be moved or blocks that crumble when they are stepped on. It all adds to the difficulty of the puzzles and the dreadful realisation that if you spend too much time on one level of blocks without moving will result in your death adds a considerable amount of excitement.
Each level has a “Boss”. In addition to solving the puzzles, avoiding traps and watching time, the boss inflicts horrible tricks on Vincent or the Blocks themselves. One of the earlier bosses casts a “disrupt” kind of spell that makes the controls go opposite other bosses knock you a few levels down. the agony of nearly reaching the top of the tower and then being knocked down by Bosses can only be compared to a very very cruel round of Mario Kart.
So yes, the Game is difficult but this makes it soooo satisfying. I jumped up and down shouting with joy on more than one occasion after completing some greuling levels and im sure Im not the only one. ATLUS have crafted an addictive “simple” game that is reminiscent of the good old days when Japan used to make all the good games.
The game switches between 2D anime style and 3D in game cinematics. the switch seems seamless for me but that may be because Im a huge anime fan. Its obvious studio 4C had a good budget for this because the animation is very fluid. The story plays a central role in Catherine so you will be sitting and watching Cinematics for a fair bit. Not at Metal Gear Solid lengths though, most o these clips are at most 7 minutes.
The Story centres around a 32 year old guy named Vincent, he has been in a steady relationship with his girlfriend Katherine for a very long time and just found out she is pregnant. Obviously this brings up the topic of marriage and responsibilities, like any other regular guy Vincent is troubled with this and seeks the aid of his friends and alcohol. His friends give him some good advice but the alcohol leads him to cheating on his girlfriend with the very luscious Catherine. Catherine does not know Vincent already has girlfriend and in a very “Yandere” way warns him not to cheat on her. Dillemna.
This is what really drove me to this game, the story. ATLUS were targeting the 30 something year olds that played the original NES back in the day. mature story for mature people and basic arcade gameplay reminiscent of…. that’s right “the good old days.” Theres even a mode in the game that allows you to play an arcade version of the Puzzles while you are in the bar.
The Morality Scale
Yes this game has one and it sure isn’t as simple as good or evil. Nearly all the decisions you have to make are firmly in the grey area. I love this aspect about games, allowing me to make decisions that alter the game adds so much replay value. The game has 8 different endings so making sound decisions is critical. Id hate to get a bad ending after going through hours and hours of boss battles. The scale adds a dating sim aspect to it as well. Most of the decisions are made in form of text messaging. During random occasions while in the bar, Vincent receives text messages from either Catherine or Katherine and you have the decision to either reply to these texts or completely ignore them. Both have dire consequences. However, replying to the messages is not that simple either. There is more than one way to reply to them and each of those have their own unique consequences as well. The basic use of the morality scale is to ask the question “Catherine or Katherine?” and as you progress in the game the answer gets even less and less clear, At least for me anyway.
The Voice Acting
There is no option for Japanese Audio and English subtitles But not to worry! The voice actors in this game are top notch. Troy Baker plays Vincent and sounds like a 32 year old average guy, he even pulls off the over the top exclamations which are staple in most anime. Catherine is played by Laura Bailey and sounds like a hot teenager. it was really hard to shake the Maka Albarn image out of my head whenever I heard her voice but this is easily overcome by looking at the screen. Michelle Ruff does her signature sexy older woman voice for Katherine and its frikking Michelle Ruff people. Yuri Lowenthal, Travis Willingham, Liam O’brien and even Johhny Young Bosch grace the supporting cast. Yes its pretty all star and so is is the performance.
I really have not had this much satisfaction playing a game in a while. It pushes both my anime and video game buttons at the same time. The gameplay is addictive and rewarding, the story is unique and original, the visuals are incredible and it has fanservice. If you are one of the few people that are still on the fence with whether to buy this game atleast try the demo and im sure you will be clamoring for your nearest game store within an hour.