When this game was first announced, I immediately wrote it off as simply one of those erotic Japanese games that never make their way to my country. There’s a market for those types of games, but they’re not for me. However, the more I read about Catherine and its premise, the more I was intrigued to learn more.
With the demo out now on XBOX Live and PlayStation Network, I gave it a shot.
The story of the game revolves around Vincent, who is caught between Katherine, his long-time girlfriend who is pushing him to marry her, and Catherine, a girl he had a one-night stand with. I love the idea of playing through a game about fidelity, as this theme hasn’t really been done much (if at all) in video games before. As someone who has pushed strongly for the progression of the medium as a whole, building a game around such a mature premise sounds awesome to me. When my girlfriend Steff saw ads for Catherine at GameStop, she asked me about it, I told her what I knew, and she thought it would be a cool game to try out based on its premise as well.
What the majority of the game’s promotional material doesn’t tell you, is that Catherine is mostly a puzzle game. You, as Vincent, have been having nightmares since you met Catherine, where you must climb up assorted block towers while avoiding something that’s chasing you from below, or else you’ll die in your dream and in real life. Initially, I thought that having this puzzle game tied to such a great theme was a lame juxtaposition, but the puzzle portions of the demo were fun to play. It takes a bit to get a hang of the mechanic, and I can see this requiring you to replay levels till you get the perfect run, but the game does loop the puzzle portions into the story elements of the game.
When you are not playing through nightmares, you are experiencing much of the story through cut scenes, of Vincent’s life during this ordeal. From the demo, the the only gameplay in these portions was your ability to control text messages. The one text message in the demo you receive is from Katherine (your girlfriend), and you have the ability to either select lines of text to send back, or to not respond at all, which supposedly changes the story arc. I hope there’s more it than that, but I really like the idea of having some control over the progression of the story and how your relationships with both women changes.
Though I’ve had my doubts about this game for quite some time, the Catherine demo has surprisingly sold me on the game. I still think the premise and the presentation of this game is great, and at least from my time with the demo, the gameplay was interesting enough for me to want to play more of it. There will be people who will never see this game as anything beyond a perversion and I know there will be people who will come into it for the story but will be totally turned off by how it plays as a game. Before you fully write it off or go all-in, try the demo on XBOX Live or PlayStation Network and see for yourself if your initial impressions hold up. Mine sure didn’t and I’m glad I played the demo to find out.
Catherine is already out in Japan, and is set to hit North America on July 26. I think I’ll pick it up and see if the game holds up all the way through. Do you have any interest in this game? Or if you’re from overseas, maybe you’ve already played it. What do you think or it?