- Original release year: 2011
- Consoles: PS3, Xbox 360
Catherine is not your traditional video game… Oh no. It’s a game that my wife certainly did not like me playing. I think I enjoyed playing as the cheating, deceitful boyfriend, who hooks up with a gorgeous blonde chick, who later turns out to be a complete psychopathic stalker and even later turned out to be a monster succubus, just a little too much. The game is really gripping though, really unique and really, well bizarre, in a good way.
In Catherine, you control Vincent Brooks, the main character in the game. Vincent begins to have strange nightmares after his girlfriend, Katherine, begins to talk about marriage and commitment. Understandable really… I mean, who can blame him? However, this is just the start of his problems. Things get increasingly complicated for Vincent when he meets a girl named Catherine and begins a sexual affair with the mysterious girl. The nightmares get worse and worse, as Vincent juggles between the two Katherines.
Catherine is split into two modes of gameplay. There’s the ‘visual novel’ type sections, with the story progressing between Daytime and Nightmare scenarios. During the daytime, Vincent will converse with his friends as well as try to handle his relationships with Catherine and Katherine. Most of this time takes place in the Stray Sheep bar where Vincent can save and send text messages from his mobile phone (and receive sexts from Catherine…), talk to customers and order drinks etc.
The Nighttime scenarios are a puzzle/platform gameplay style (and is the main bulk of the game). You basically have to climb up giant staircases to try and reach the top, but the blocks are slowly collapsing beneath you. It works like a puzzle game, with you needing to think (but quickly) about how you are going to ascend the tower of blocks. To progress, you must use the right combination of pushing, pulling and climbing blocks as quickly as possible, while avoiding various traps such as spikes and ice. Climbing up steps in quick succession increases a score multiplier, and at the end of the level, players are given an award based on their score. Each stage is split up into numerous areas, with you eventually reaching a boss stage in which a nightmarish creature also attempts to kill you.
What’s really cool about Catherine, is that throughout the game, you are often given choices on how you wish to proceed with the game. Your decisions affect the development of Vincent’s character and the route the story takes, giving branching paths and multiple endings, adding replayability to Catherine. There is also a morality meter, which can change in several ways, such as how Vincent types out a text message to one of the girls, how he answers certain questions and how he converses with non-playable characters. When I first played Catherine, I must admit, I was a bit of a ‘good boy’ and I eventually got myself the “best” ending, I believe. It was really interesting to go back and try and be a ‘bad boy’ though.
Catherine is such a wonderfully bizarre game and I have yet to play another game like it. It’s a provocative title, but it’s not all about Japanese ‘anime girls’ being cute and sexy. It’s a deep game, with some beautiful gameplay and an engrossing story.