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.
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.