Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Catherine

Played on PS3

The gamer anxiously awaited Catherine and then had a really hard time finding it, but he did prevail! Being from some of the people who worked on the Persona games, I was really excited about this game too. And let me just say, the decision-making storyline did not disappoint! Like the Persona games and those choose-your-own-adventure Goosebumps books, you play as the main character and make important decisions that affect the game play and decide which of the eight possible endings you will get.

You are Vincent, a regular guy with a regular life. Vincent is dating Katherine. (Pay attention to spelling, it makes all the difference!) Vincent is happy with his life, but his girlfriend is starting to drop the M-word: Marriage. (Dun dun dunnnnnnnn.) Vincent starts to freak out and looks to his buddies at the Stray Sheep (the bar) for help. Well, after a night of a few too many, Vincent wakes up with Catherine. (Notice the C.) Apparently he has a thing for Katherines/Catherines. Vincent doesn't remember meeting Catherine and is really freaked out about this encounter. Here's where your/his choices really start to change things... and I'll leave the rest up to you.

But wait! That's only the part of the game that takes place during the day! At night, Vincent is having these really strange dreams. He has to climb these towers of blocks and make it to the top before he wakes up. Remember that story you probably told your friends in middle school about how you die in real life if you die in your dreams? Well, that seems to be the case. Vincent doesn't know who or what has chosen him for these "trials" but each night Vincent, and other men, are faced with a series of towers to climb.

Got it? Maybe? Well, I promise I won't spoil anything.

Visuals: This game was really interesting. Most of the action of the game is very typical somewhat realistic video game graphics. However, for many of the cut scenes the animation is a mix of typical video game and drawing. The characters, particularly their faces, are often drawn in a typical animation style. Think American cartoons, not anime. The animation is maybe a little bit more stylistic in a Japanese watercolor/line drawing manner, but definitely not what you usually see in video games. This was a little odd to me, but once I really got into the game, I hardly noticed.

One thing to look for is the tie-ins to the other games from these creators. There's a Teddy and a Gekkoukan High School logo in the game. There are also a lot of really neat small details through out the game.

Audio: The soundtrack for this game is somewhat understated. The musical style is very similar to the Persona series and to many anime shows. It provides a good setting for the game without being too overpowering for a game that is so strong in its story. One thing I will mention about the audio is that the bells can get to be really annoying. When Vincent is climbing the towers in the nightmares, a bell begins to sound as he gets closer to the top. This is really encouraging as you play as its a sign that your almost there, but when you have to replay the last five levels of the tower because you just can't figure it out and all you hear is that bell going bong bong bong every few seconds, it gets to be a bit annoying.

Involvement: This game provides a huge opportunity for the non-gaming girlfriend to get involved. During the daytime story, you can help your guy to make decisions regarding how he's going to respond to text messages and conversations. Which, he might need. However, the nighttime tower levels are an even better chance to get involved. The tower puzzles are hard, and I mean hard. Having an extra set of eyes to think through which block to move where can be incredibly helpful. Just remember, as in games like Portal, know your gamer. Some gamers don't do too well with their girlfriend solving puzzles for them, while others love getting the extra boost.

Overall: This game was really pretty awesome. The story was great and kept me guessing how it would end. The game is really well developed and has great depth. There are excellent opportunities to get involved and the game is really engaging.

One thing I will mention, the whole concept of the cheating boyfriend might anger some girlfriends/wives. I found myself calling Catherine a little hussy a few times, maybe even more than a few. I also kept thinking that I'm really glad my gamer doesn't have friends like Vincent's. Just a little advice to remember that it's just a game and Catherine isn't real and therefore isn't a little hussy home-wrecker.

Overall though, this game was really awesome and we had a lot of fun playing it through. I would say that it easily passes the wifey-watchability test (but should not even be introduced to a child-watching test).

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