Catherine is one of the strangest and most innovative games I’ve ever played. It is engaging with a combination of sex and horror (always the best mix). It combines several modes of gameplay and story-telling into something that is altogether unique and worth your time and money.
Catherine is a puzzle game. No, wait, it’s an RPG. No… it’s an anime movie. Frankly, it’s everything. Catherine stars a protaganist, Vincent, who has been dating a type-A named Katherine for several years. She is on the fast-track to marriage and he’s got cold feet. Nbd, until one morning he wakes and is startled to find a naked blonde next to him named Catherine (with a “C”). All hell breaks loose and that’s just the anime portion.
Between anime sequences there is a puzzle game. You see, every night, Vincent dreams he is in a quasi-Pergatory where he is a sheep among a herd of sheep who have one task : climb a cliff face of blocks as fast as they can or be consumed by some demon waiting in the darkness below. In the same strain as my favorite series, Silent Hill, the demon is a reflection of some betrayal committed in the sheep’s past. Oh yeah, and if the demon kills the sheep in the nightmare, that person dies in their sleep in real life. (“one, two, Freddy’s coming for you”)
Ok, but between Anime and climbing cliffs, there is yet another layer to this gameplay. Vincent spends his evenings with friends in a bar called The
Stray Sheep. During these sequences, the Player actually can chose to interact with Vincent’s friends as well as random people at the bar. Through these interactions, ensuing layers of the story are revealed including the realization that Vincent isn’t the only man having nightmares.
The bar contains other modes of play including an arcade game where the Player can train for his climbing nightmare on good rendition of an 8-bit game. Vincent also receives texts on his phone and can respond to them selecting from several pre-defined phrases. These subtle interactions allow for a gameplay that flexes to the Player’s choices. Characters actually react to your texting!
From a gameplay perspective, the game is solid. It is an amalgamation of many modes of play in a unique form that really had me addicted. I am not a fan of puzzle games, but I wanted to pound through them just so I could advance the story and interact with the characters at the bar.
The music is a bit weak during the puzzle sequences. The game remixes the works of Holst, Beethoven, Handel, etc. The mixes get repetitive and annoying very quick. However, the music during the bar scenes is perfect, evoking a lounge environment that is both alluring and uneasy.
Visuals. Unique. The Anime moments alone are worthy of a full-blown movie. The bar scenes are lush. The puzzle sequences are solid.
All told, I bought this game on ebay, used for $15. Easily worth the money. If you see a copy grab it, even if you just consider yourself a student of game design, I think this piece has so many unique touches it is worth your study.