Review by gugubee

Reviewed: 08/08/11

Not many games tackle such a mature concept, but Catherine does it better than any other game! :D

Catherine is Atlus’ newest game, and arguably its best. It demonstrates how well a game can be an art medium like. Catherine isn’t for everyone, especially people who simply want to play a quick, mindless, run-and-gun-game like Call of Duty; if you have an open mind for other genres, Catherine may be one of the best gaming experiences to be released all year!

Graphics/Audio 9/10
Catherine flawlessly transitions between anime styled cutscenes and rich, cell-shaded, graphics. The game rarely has any hick-ups and there’s almost nothing wrong. The only downside is the somewhat rugged character movements when you’re hanging around the bar, which I’ll get to in a minute. The soundtrack is very fitting and the voice actors perfectly capture their characters while immersing you into Catherine’s already amazing story.

Story 10/10
Catherine deals with adult themes that games rarely tackle, and they’re projected so well. The game follows Vincent, who is trouble by his girlfriend’s, Katherine, pressuring of him to marry her. One night he wakes up in a dream only to find himself being chased by an unknown figure. These nightmares escalate in their gruesomeness after Vincent cheats on his girlfriend with a provocative woman named Catherine; but, with a “C.” While exploring these nightmares you’ll find out that you’re not alone. I won’t get into anymore details; but, I will say the story is very engrossing and gets more epic as you move on. As the events unfold you’ll get such a great feel for Vincent’s psychological makeup. There are several endings, and the one you get is tailored to the manner in which you play. Vincent’s thoughts even change depending on your moral choices. The story’s depth and close attention to detail are what make it the most unforgettable part of Catherine

Gameplay 9/10
Catherine’s gameplay is split into two sections. The first segment involves Vincent’s dreams, and this is where the “core” of the game is played. You’ll push blocks to try to get higher and higher, which will allow you to wake up from that night’s horrific dream. Each night ends with a boss battle that will throw objects at you or do something to alter the layout of the level. At first it seems simple; but, halfway into the game the puzzles will become challenging and make you think have to think on your feet to survive. Vincent’s dreams are fast-paced, addictive and just pure fun. When not on “Easy” difficulty, “Normal” and “Hard” provide a high level of challenge, and hard veers on the lines of impossible. The only gripe with thee dream segments is that there’s a sudden rise in difficulty on the last level, which throws off Catherine’s almost-perfect pacing.

The second part of the game involves Vincent’s time spent in the bar. During this you can have conversations with your friends and other visitors. The bar allows you to get a better understanding for what’s going on, in and around you. Its fun to hear the stories of other people, and you can even save some that are struggling with depression or other real world issues. The time spent in the bar is arguably better than your time spent dreaming because of how realistic everyone feels. There’s also miscellaneous things to do like text, drink or play arcade games. As previously mentioned, the game employs a moral choice system; but, unlike other games, the choices feel like a core part of the game due to its story driven nature.

Replay Value 8/10
Catherine’s story will last 8-10 hours. Getting all of the endings definitely gives the game longevity. With a clever use of the save system, unlocking all the endings won’t be as much of a time-suck as it seems, and the game has the option of skipping dreams that have a gold trophy. This serves as an impetus to go above-and-beyond in all levels. There are also other modes that are slight variations of Vincent’s dream segments; the variations are just small enough to make its mode seem fresh, but not a new game. All this can justify Catherine’s purchase.

Overall 9/10
Catherine’s largest flaw is in its own nature. The game will most likely not be played by many due to its uniqueness. If you’re a person to give a quirky Japanese game a chance, you’ll find one of greatest gaming experiences ever crafted.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Catherine (US, 07/26/11)

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