Review: Catherine

view gallery VIEW GALLERY



Price: 44.99
Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Deep Silver

Atlus games, responsible for the Megami Tensei series among others, have a reputation for trying something different. Their latest title certainly has a unique concept – opening with our protagonist Vincent in bed with a smoking hot blonde who is evidently not his long-term girlfriend, it then encourages us to choose a path through the game which may or may not involve chasing this femme fatale at the expense of our possibly pregnant partner.

Moral choices abound in this cheat-‘em-up, but it’s not all about Springer or Kyle-style scrapping over paternity tests, thankfully.

Gameplay is neatly divided into two sections. First up, the plot-filled cartoon sections where you sit in bars, drinking, talking and texting friends like all good teenagers do. Vincent’s friends Jonny, Orlando and Tony hang out at the Stray Sheep Inn and gab about the rumours of locals dying in their sleep…

Secondly, set in the dead of night, Vincent must traverse a plethora of slumber-themed platforming sections. You see, like others in his town, Vince has been having nightmares where he is endlessly falling, and afraid of hitting the ground before he wakes up, he must constantly scale and move blocks around and climb them in order to escape the oncoming blackness.

These nightmares seem to be scripted by a design team who’ve watched a more than a few David Lynch films, and occasionally the platform sequences resemble something the legendary director might have dreamt himself after a long session on Q-Bert.

Collecting pillows for extra continues and feathers for points, these puzzle sections can build to a fiendish frenzy of block manipulation, and quick work is amply rewarded when you get to the next part of the storyline. But fall off the bottom and plummet into the black, and, as the continue screen says, ‘Love is over’.

The duality of the day and night sequences extends further to the confusing plot in which, as outlined above, you wake up in bed with Catherine – no, not your girlfriend Katherine, a different, opposite female almost – and then must make your choices, leading towards one of 9 different endings, with a variety of outcomes and by now, learning that one includes space travel, should hardly come as a surprise.

The puzzle elements can be a bit frustrating at times – the randomness of the situations and layouts can make it very difficult in the later stages of the game to contend with the heavy blocks, ice blocks, boss fights, and the most irritating of all, the exploding blocks.

It’s climb or die, and sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is the chance to further the plot in the next daytime section. Of course, this is often how games with two parts pan out, but happily Catherine just about manages to find the right balance between the two.

After a hard nights’ puzzling you can even kick back at the Stray Sheep’s virtual jukebox before indulging in some arcade gaming within the game itself – always a welcome distraction from the possibility of falling back into a puzzle nightmare where zombie babies and dismembered hands snap away at your heels.

The game’s soundtrack is excellent too as  a whole host of well known, but slightly altered, classical music stirs vague childhood memories of Holst, Dvorak and other University-Challenge-music-round-question luminaries bring out a suitably uneasy edge to proceedings.

Definitely designed with adult gamers in mind, chances are Catherine doesn’t comfortably fit into any genre you will have seen before. It’s the kind of game that years ago would never have made it over to European shores – thankfully the gradual broadening of tastes means we don’t miss out on this idiosyncratic Japanese gem.

A beguiling mix of platforming, puzzling and horror that frequently surprises, Catherine is also available in a deluxe edition with a pair of Vincent’s underpants, a pillow case, all packaged in a pizza box from the Stray Sheep. I’m not even joking either – this really is Quirky (and note the capital ‘Q’).

Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Morrissey pictured in 2013
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

    £18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Progressive Rec.

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices