Catherine does not include
many classroom facts. One strange place they do come through is at the bar.
Whenever Vincent finishes a drink, the scene pauses and players are treated to
a piece of trivia about one of the various types of real-world beverages in the
The game's puzzle levels offer plenty of freedom for players to experiment.
Blocks are arranged to encourage specific routes, but it is often very
difficult to tell exactly what path needs to be taken. This allows players to
experiment with their own ideas, and the stages become more devious as players
obtain more experience. The introduction of random attacks on the stage during
boss levels adds another layer of challenge, as players are forced to change up
their strategies when blocks randomly become damaged or destroyed outright.
The game's challenge levels are unlocked by earning gold trophies in the main
game. They are incredibly lengthy stages that are randomly generated as players
climb, each with its own theme. Here, even more than in the main game, players
must think quickly and come up with their own plans, with the game's online
leaderboards as a goal.
Outside the puzzle segments players will have to decide which characters to
spend time with at the Stray Sheep, as well as how to respond to texts from
Katherine and Catherine, all of which will affect the game's conclusion. The
game does not call any of these options good or evil; instead, players are
encouraged to decide for themselves what might be right or wrong.
By the Developer:
In premise alone, Catherine
is a totally unique game. Both the game's puzzle-solving elements and its
social-sim bar scenes shine on their own, and together they make for a
remarkable experience. The game's puzzle mode seems like other games on the
surface, but it quickly begins to show its depth when its clever rules become
clear. The same can be said of the scenes set in the Stray Sheep, as it
eventually becomes clear that players will be able to influence the direction
of the story.
And the game's story, of course, is one of its biggest selling points. Its
subject matter and protagonist - a man scared of being caught cheating on his
girlfriend - are totally original as far as videogames go, and the way both
halves of the game work to build this story is remarkable. Plenty of
well-voiced dialogue, over-the-top imagery and fully animated cutscenes keep
the game surprising.
Most of all the
game has a remarkably distinct sense of style, brought together through the
game's dark plot, confident art design and perfect, jazzy soundtrack, that will
almost assuredly make it stick in the minds of most players. Other playful
elements constantly pop up - pieces of music or other references to previous
Persona Team games, or polls which compare the player's answers to every other
player in the country, for a few examples - that keep players surprised and
prevent the game from ever having a dull moment.
Players can collect coins that are scattered about on the game's towers, and
these can be used to purchase items at the landings between stages. These items
are optional and are intended as extra help for players that are struggling.
People skills are
an important part of Catherine. Though it is a single-player game, it
revolves around Vincent's interactions with other characters and the player's
own feelings about his situation. During any given conversation players usually
only need to make one simple dialogue choice, but over the course of the eight
nights Vincent spends at the Stray Sheep these choices will decide the fates of
the characters that populate it.
Vincent also has to
answer texts from the game's female leads. These offer players a handful of
branching options that will affect how each girl feels towards Vincent. The
plot eventually splits into eight separate endings depending on the player's
choices throughout the game. This is handled differently than in other games in
that these choices are not labeled as "good" or "evil."
Instead the game openly states that there is no correct way to move through the
game, and that different people are bound to have different desires for their
As a side note, the game contains a couple of two-player modes that allow
players to tackle some of the game's stages either cooperatively or in
competition with each other. These are local multiplayer only and are a small
part of the game, but offer an interesting take on the game's mechanics for pairs
of interested players.
For the most part this lies in Catherine's brutally clever block-pushing
puzzles. Players always need to climb from the bottom of a tower of cubes to
the top. Players can push and pull the blocks in and out of the walls, and a
few basic rules dictate the way Vincent can move around; when he pulls a block
over a gap he can hang on to the seam between two rows and grapple around with
his arms, and a block will remain suspended as long as it rests just one of its
edges on another block. With these ideas in place players will quickly develop
the complex maneuvers that the game demands.
New blocks add plenty of other interesting challenges in certain stages, but
the real kicker is that players are always heavily pressed for time. Every few
seconds the bottom floor of the tower drops off, meaning Vincent needs to be
constantly moving upward in order to survive. This is particularly stressful
when many stages require players to carefully push and pull blocks to rearrange
a tower and, often, backtrack a bit to fix mistakes.
Catherine's tower-climbing mechanics are revisited two other ways. A
handful of enormous challenge stages offer randomly-generated blocks suited to
different themes for players to attempt. In the Stray Sheep sections of the
game Vincent can play an arcade game called Rapunzel that offers these puzzles,
only here there is no time limit. Instead players have to solve each carefully
designed puzzle using only a certain number of moves.
These different looks at the game's already deep puzzle mechanics all challenge
players in different ways.
Catherine is not a simulation
Catherine has been received
extremely well since its release, though in some cases its eccentric
combination of different styles has proven divisive. Overall it has been
praised as a particularly unique videogame. The level of difficulty found in
the puzzle stages has been criticized and praised in turn. Catherine has
had the most successful launch of any game in Atlus' history.
Catherine offers three levels of difficulty up front. As the puzzle
stages of the game can be extremely difficult even in normal mode, each of them
changes the game considerably. The lower difficulties allow players to take
back their last nine moves at any time, and a hidden "very easy" mode
offers players extra block-climbing items throughout the game.
rated M by the ESRB with descriptors for Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes,
Strong Language, Use of Alcohol and Violence.