Catherine is one of the most unique titles we have undoubtedly loved playing, similar to some of the best Anime movies and manga that utilize the themes of responsibility, sexual infidelity, and the dichotomy of right and wrong all in one package. While Catherine is not necessarily the most refined in terms of its puzzling platformer gameplay, it has one of the best stories with two endings that we have ever come to see of a game. The action, music, comedic relief, production and drama are all a small part of what makes this title a big success in terms of most of its package of horror action adventure. Regardless of disappointing mechanics in a majority of its gamespan, Catherine is an entertaining title, allowing players to truly succumb to a level of emotional consequence.
Vincent is an average fellow, but one who starts to reveal a progression of a sense of delirium in the morality of choices between true love/order or true love/freedom. He does not want things to change: his girlfriend Katherine hopes for marriage after seeing many friends with families, and even begins to pressurize Vincent, which all becomes situations he cannot handle. The storyline of Catherine plays at the heart of these macadamizing emotions, playing off of a delicate balance between Vincent, his unusual group of friends, Erica the waitress at the favorite bar The Stray Sheep, and the love interests in his life. One night during the stress of his commitment issues, Vincent runs into Catherine, ironically named with a ‘C’ instead of a ‘K’ like his current future-focused girlfriend, who changes his perspective on chaotic life and excitement in sexual deviance and the contrast of the older Katherine to a younger, more sexy Catherine. Catherine is blonde, wears sexy lingerie-like white outfits, while Katherine wears turtleneck sweaters and has this air about her. Suddenly, things start to go wrong and nightmares begin throughout the entire town. After each nightmare, Vincent awakes next to Catherine, unsure of what he was doing but certain of his confused state of justified or unjustified infidelity.
Regardless of any memory black-outs, Vincent plays a dynamic which ties into the gameplay directly. His decisions throughout the cutscenes are based on “tests” of the nightmares of relationship questions. One side of a moral meter leads to “Order” the other to “Freedom.” Catherine does not utilize a traditional moral meter like most RPG elements that divide a person into necessarily evil or good. It is more about freedom and order, responsibility or excitement. This is the central core of the gameplay with Catherine, occasionally delving into nightmares where sheeps are representative of people and the gameplay is all about block formats, and rushing to the top as blocks are electrocuted, changed, etc. When these nightmares finish, Vincent will respond according to the moral meters of his choices in these dreams. Suddenly, Vincent finds himself struggling to appease a maybe pregnant or not so pregnant girlfriend, while still keeping his lust for Catherine. This central struggle, the ambiance of environment and all of these factors outside of dreams is what makes Catherine a captivating title. Vincent can respond to texts through his cell phone while he is in the bar or even see some naughty photos the vivacious and seducing Catherine sends him. All of these gameplay elements set a level of mood which brings the tone of the title up an entire bar of maturity and intensity through the drama of the events that happen so mysteriously. These dreams are mysterious at first, but become clearer as the game progresses, the “Wrath of Woman,” a curse on cheaters is a central thematic element which is made clear from the beginning of the game. Various elements of Catherine in terms of its storyline design are so creatively drafted, that they truly stand out at our emotions.
Catherine is certainly a title which lacks so much but yet has a level of mood and ambiance of environment that is hard to ignore. The gameplay of the nightmares is decent, but nothing inventive or even entertaining to say the least. The nights at The Stray Sheep have gameplay elements that involve speaking with people and checking text messages, which are actually all fun for the mood of the style of gameplay despite being not intense. What remains for certain is that the storyline of Catherine is ingenious, making ATLUS’s Catherine a game which makes itself a title that needs to be played based on storyline originality alone and character depth and persona.