Catherine Review

Known mostly in the RPG genre, developers Atlus decided to try their hands in the puzzle/dating sim genre. Is Catherine worth getting into a relationship with? Or is this relationship heading for a complete break up?

Story - The story of Catherine follows a man name Vincent. Vincent is having strange nightmares lately. Not to mention his girlfriend Katherine is talking marriage. After a night of drinking with his friends, Vincent wakes up in his room with a hot blonde name Catherine. Vincent now must overcome strange nightmares, that are taking the lives of men all over the city, and choose who will he be with Catherine or Katherine.

The story while not original in terms of situations, it is original in it's approach in story telling. Catherine is packed with social commentary on men and female relationships. The game's characters are all interesting, each story can be related to some real life situation. The story raises so many questions, that when it's done you'll probably start questioning the meaning of love, relationships, the effects of cheating and more. The story feels a little cliche, but it gets tense and has enough twist and turns to keep you going.

Gameplay - Catherine is a breath of fresh air. This is one unique game. The game is played in two forms. The nightmare world and the real world. In the real world you will mostly spend time in the bar called "Stray Sheep" (notice the reference of stray = cheating). At the bar Vincent will chat with other people in bar, his friends and through these conversations he will decide the outcome of the game, depending on his answers. The game features a morale meter. This is used when you answer your questions or make a statement in your text messages. When Vincent answers a question his answer will decide his moral standing. For example if a question is asked "Is it wrong to live with your lover even if you never plan to marry them?" Depending how you answer will effect Vincent's outcome to the story, it will either go to the red zone (bad morale) or blue zone (good morale). From time to time Vincent will also receive text messages from Katherine or Catherine. Depending on how you reply will also effect the relationship Vincent has with the girls. That's not all Vincent can do at the stray. Vincent can check email, get drunk which will help him in the nightmare world, also he can play a mini game which plays a lot like the nightmare levels. Finally while having conversations with other people, you can cheer them up and that might also save their life.

The nightmare levels are divided into eight different stages, one for each night of Vincent's sleep. It's up to Vincent to survive all these nights if he wants to find out who is responsible for his bad dreams. Each stage gets more complex and harder. Vincent will have to climb to the top of a mountain of blocks, while avoiding traps, enemies and a time clock. The controls are easy to use. The d-pad is much easier than the analog to control Vincent. However sometimes the camera view is fighting against you, if you your trying to hop from a box from the front to the back. Other than that the controls are smooth and works well. While playing you will encounter a couple of techniques and items you will learn and find from other sheep. These techniques will help you progress through the stages more easier, however these puzzles take a great skill of thinking to complete. The puzzles are very difficult on the hard level and holds your hand on the easy one. It gives a balance for people who want a challenge and people who just want to see the story. Overall the gameplay is unique and does a great job blending dating sim and puzzles.

Gameplay Video

Graphics - The graphics in Catherine are not the best on the market. However it does have a great art style. Those who watch Anime will fill right at home with the graphics and world. The environments, the character designs and the cutscenes scream Anime influence. Nothing groundbreaking about the graphics, but it does it job to immerse you in this unique world of Catherine.

Sound - The voice acting is a hit. Known voice actors and actresses from the Anime world lend their voices. Voice talent such as Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Michelle Ruff, Travis Willingham and many more. For the most part the delivery is spot on, especially with Michelle Ruff and Laura Bailey as Katherine and Catherine. Both of them play the characters with sweet, but also scary touch to it. The performance with the writing will make it hard to decide who to go with towards the end. The music is wonderful it's a mix of Jazz and interpretation of classical music. The music brings a relaxing but tense feeling depending on the scene or moment in the game. It's a great OST and solid voice acting.

Replay Value - Catherine has multiple endings, the ability tor replay levels and very addictive mini game. This is one game you will come back to again.

Final Grade A-/9.0 - Catherine is a great gaming experience, pack with a great story with wonderful themes and messages. It has great gameplay which is very challenging, great music and decent graphics. This game is a breath of fresh air from the over flooding shooting market we get every month. If you want something different, challenging and a little fan service, get your money and take Catherine on date, just treat her right or it could be deadly.