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’).

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
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

    C# Software Engineer (ASP.NET, C#, CSS, Java Script, JQuery)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits, Training & Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# S...

    CCNP Network Engineer - Farnborough, £250 pd

    £250 per day: Orgtel: Network Engineer (CCNP), Cisco Gold Partner, Farnborough...

    Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

    £250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

    Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

    £30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape