Video games have a lot of growing up to do when it comes to the subject of love. Decades of catering to the taste of young boys has left the content a bit…emotionally-stunted. As such, those looking for a love-related content fix will heavily gravitate towards other mediums such as film, music, and literature instead.
To gaming’s credit, steps are being taken in the right direction. Gaming is starting to take on the subject in more thoughtful ways and I’m here for it! As we head towards Valentine’s Day, maybe a few of these games can get you in the spirit of the season, whether you’re madly in love or wrestling with heartbreak.
Originally released in 2011 and remastered for modern consoles in 2019, Catherine: Full Body makes its presence felt on the Nintendo Switch today. It’s an opportunity for new players try one of gaming’s most unique titles while also having a bit of new material for experienced players.
My strong affinity for the game will probably be enough motivation I need to purchase it. However, carving out the time to actually play through it is a much more difficult challenge.
Up until its release, I’d written off Catherine as a niche porno game. While there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re into that scene, that style of game is not for me. As it turns out, this is not that type of experience at all. Instead, it’s equal parts puzzle game and dating simulator. It’s also one of the most unique and awesome games to come out of this generation.
Choosing a game of the year is never easy. Each year, we’re blessed with tons of great games, and to choose just one above the rest is very tough. Case in point: I copped out last year and picked two games as my “games of the year” for different reasons, but never definitively picked one over the other. I’m sure that the process for selecting a game of the year can be even harder for major gaming publications, who have to weight out multiple opinions before coming to a ‘definitive’ conclusion.
Having played many of this year’s biggest releases, I did a lot of soul-searching in order to choose a game I feel is worth of the game of the year distinction. When it was all said and done, I came to a conclusion. Was it Batman: Arkham City? Uncharted 3? Portal 2? Could it be another big release I haven’t listed here? Or maybe I went completely out of left field with my choice?
Without further ado, In Third Person’s 2011 game of the year is…
In 2011, no video game trailer made more waves or garnered as much attention as the Dead Island announcement trailer. As far as video game trailers go, this haunting and beautiful piece is one of the best video game trailers ever made. Thanks to this trailer, the game built up a tremendous amount of pre-release buzz and ultimately sold really well.
Say what you will about the quality of the trailer, but the Dead Island announcement trailer captures a lot of what I hate about video game marketing and advertising. I’ll take this a step even further and say that due to the business practices behind the creation of most video game trailers and commercials, I actively avoid watching them.
A few days ago, I posted a pretty glowing review of Catherine for the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3. In hindsight, I’m still happy with how that game turned out and how that review was written. As much as I gushed about it before, it does have some kinks. Since I didn’t really go into them in detail in my review, I thought I’d call them out here. It’s still a fantastic game as is, and you may not agree with my list of gripes, but you’re always free to chime in with your point of view in the comments!
1. Your controls when Vincent is behind the block tower sucks
Controlling Vincent when he’s in-between the blocks and your direct line of sight is straightforward. However, in cases where you have to control Vincent behind the blocks, your controls become a complete mess. The problem is two-fold. For one, controlling movement behind a block tower isn’t consistent at all. You may hit left on your d-pad to make Vincent move right, but the next time you hit left, he’ll stay still. The controls when Vincent is trying to maneuver behind blocks constantly flip, which makes it extremely difficult to get places in this manner.
This issue could have been alleviated if the camera was able maneuver all the way around the block tower. At its best though, you’ll only have access to a 180-degree view. This makes it impossible to see how you’re maneuvering Vincent behind a tower of blocks. While you won’t be spending a lot of time maneuvering behind blocks, it sucks every time you have to do it.
2. Lack of interaction in the real world
Most of the gameplay in Catherine takes place in Vincent’s nightmares, where you maneuver through block towers. While I love playing through these towers, I really wish there was more to do in the real world. I have no problem with sitting through all of the cutscenes, as they’re really well done and they’re the main driver of the story. Where the game could have gone a bit further with are the times when you control Vincent in the bar. Why not give him more to do? Why not give him more opportunities here to impact the story beyond talking to people and answering text messages? Why not let the player visit other environments besides the bar? These suggestions would have helped make players feel a bit more involved outside of the nightmares.
The last points in this post contain SPOILERS, so please proceed at your own discretion!
Catherine is a really hard game to judge at face value. Unless you’ve tried the game for yourself, it’s very easy to misinterpret Catherine as some sort of perverse porno game. Even by watching the recently-released Catherine gameplay trailer, it may only confuse you further. You might then be asking yourself even more questions, such as:
“Is this a puzzle game?”
“Is this a dating simulator?”
“How does this all even work?”
“How do you play out the sex parts?”
Before I continue with this review, I’ll answer the last question for you: No, you do not play out the sex parts. This is not a porno game and the act of sex itself is not as big of a factor to the game as you may have been lead to expect. What it is though, is likely a gaming experience you’ve never had before.
Normally, I don’t like to use In Third Person as a means of perpetuating a company’s PR cycle. Not to say that I’m anti-establishment or anything like that, but every professional or amateur video games enthusiast writer is going to write the same stories about the same press releases. Adding my own spin to a public relations piece that has been spun a million times before generally doesn’t excite me one bit.
However, this one is a bit different. The Catherine demo won me over in a big way, and I’m really loving the final product. Expect to see a review for Catherine tomorrow. I had some concerns that this game would fall on deaf ears for looking like a perverse Japanese porno game (which the game is not). Had it flopped and discouraged Atlus or others from releasing more unique products, I would have been a very sad panda. Thank goodness then for the announcement from Atlus that Catherine set an Atlus sales record, having shipped more units at launch than any other Atlus game in the publisher’s 20-year history.
One of the reasons I pre-ordered Catherine once I decided to buy it (besides the ability to avoid the embarrassment of purchasing it in person) was to get the CD soundtrack and the art book for free with what Atlus positioned as the pre-order edition. However, due to Amazon failing to ship my order in a timely manner, I just went out to my local retailer and bought a copy. To my surprise, every launch copy of the game is the pre-order edition, which means if you buy a launch copy of the game, you’ll get the bonus art book and CD soundtrack regardless of whether you pre-ordered it.
As of writing, I haven’t played the game yet. However, I thought I’d at least post my impressions on the launch package in case you were interested in what the art book and soundtrack are like.
Shortly after writing my previous post on my time with the Catherine demo, I decided that I was going to purchase the game. Normally, when I’ve made the decision to buy a game before its release, I patiently wait until launch day and buy said game at a store. I like the experience of going into a store and getting the game immediately, rather than having the release date pass by while my game is in transit at the mercy of the postal service.
This time, I pre-ordered it online. I grabbed the PlayStation 3 version so that my girlfriend can play my copy too. I’ve never pre-ordered any games online before, and this is only the second time I’ve ever purchased a game online. No, I didn’t go out of my way to pre-order it so that I could get the bonus soundtrack and art book (though it’s a nice bonus, I guess). I pre-ordered it to save myself from any potential embarrassment.