Here we go again, Atlanta. We got ourselves an interesting one this time. This game is called “Catherine”. Think you can handle the ride? Then let’s jump down the rabbit hole…
Storyline – 5/5
Catherine takes place in a generic American town, modern day. The story revolves around Vincent Brooks, a 32-year-old man who, until recently, has just been breezing through life. Lately, his longtime girlfriend Katherine has been hinting that she wants to get married. This throws a wrench into Vincent’s easygoing lifestyle.
One evening, while contemplating his current situation, he just so happens to meet a much younger, much more attractive woman named Catherine. After a one-night stand with the mysterious beauty, Vincent finds himself torn between two women, as well as dealing with the nightmares that have been plaguing his sleep lately.
The storyline of Catherine is very deep, and very well-written. It’s a story that hasn’t been told before, in a way that has never been seen before. The story will appeal to anyone who enjoys a romance and/or horror tale, as well as anyone who is a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series of games.
Graphics – 4/5
The visuals in Catherine are pretty impressive. The combination of cel-shaded 3-D rendering during gameplay and high-definition anime cutscenes in between are a treat for the eyes.
The character models all look good and varied, from Vincent to Catherine and Katherine, to the various sheep you run across in Vincent’s dreams, each one seemingly having its own unique personality, and even the morbidly obese merchant sheep. Nothing looks awkward or out of place, and that’s saying something, considering this is an Atlus game. From the Persona team, at that.
The animation is pretty good, as well. No framerate skips or visual glitches, although a little bit of slowdown does occur sometimes.
The graphics may come just shy of perfection, but it really, REALLY comes close.
Audio – 4/5
Anyone who’s played a Persona game is probably thinking “It’s probably got some good music in it”. Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re absolutely WRONG.
It has a LOT of GREAT music in it.
The musical soundtrack is right on par for any Atlus game. It keeps the familiar dark tone of other games from the same team, at the same time bringing something entirely new, giving itself an individuality all its own.
The great thing about the music is that it always seems to fit the mood of whatever situation you’re in right now. It seems to adjust to whether you’re reaching the end of a stage, running out of time, or have a decent head start. Everything fits where it should.
Amazingly enough, the voice acting is remarkably good. It’s actually good enough to distract some from the fact that there’s no Japanese voice option. But then again, this Examiner never really got the point of having it. If there’s an argument to be made for it, it’s that the voices don’t always sync up with the character’s mouth movements. But that’s about it.
Gameplay – 4/5
At its core, Catherine is a puzzle game. The object is to push and pull blocks in order to create a path for Vincent so he can climb to the top of each tower.
And it’s not just Vincent who is climbing for his life. During his journey, he’ll come across others who are trying to climb for their lives, as well. Some of them will co-operate with Vincent, while others will get in his way.
Along the way, you’ll come across items that you can use to help you scale the towers, such as an item that will create a block if you need an extra one, or to give you extra climbing power,
or get rid of those pesky enemies getting in your way.
In between nightmares, you’re asked to answer questions, most of which have moral repercussions, tracked by a morality meter. This meter has a direct effect on the outcome of several key points in the game. So it’s ultimately up to the player to decide Vincent’s fate.
Again, players of the Persona series will find this a familiar game mechanic.
The unique combination of puzzle game and social sim makes Catherine an interesting and fun game to play. Persistant players will find themselves replaying the game over and over again, just to find out what would happen if they had made different choices than what they made during a previous playthrough.
That’s all for the in-depth exam. Let’s look at the breakdown.
Storyline – 5/5 Original story written by the Persona team, both deep and entertaining.
Graphics – 4/5 Excellent Cel-shaded gameplay with anime cutscenes, sullied only slightly by some slowdown during gameplay.
Audio – 4/5 Incredible musical soundtrack, with great voice acting, but voices don’t sync with character mouth movement. But that’s pretty much the standard.
Gameplay – 4/5 Part puzzle, part social sim brings a unique and enjoyable experience. Can be frustrating at times, though.
Total – 17/20
All in all, Catherine is, by far, one of the best games available for the next-gen consoles to date. From the deep and engaging storyline to the fast-paced, think-on-your-feet gameplay, there’s something for just about everybody. This one is definitely worth a look, regardless of what kind of gamer you are.
As always, you can e-mail me a request to review a specific game. The address is on my top page, so feel free to let me know what game you think Atlanta should be playing next!