Atlus’ latest offering, Catherine, combines brilliant storytelling with ghostly elements and quickly-yet-fun game mechanics. It manages to mix together aspects of social simulation with intricate puzzles, all while building the atmosphere with great visuals and sound-work, and a powerful story. Catherine is released on July 26, 2011. In the game, you control Vincent, a middle-aged man who lives an insignificant life, with the prospect of parenthood (with this girlfriend Catherine) looming over his head. He soon bumps into Catherine, a blond bombshell with a crazy outlook on life – a woman he simply can,t resist – and so begins a scandalous love triangle. It is then up to you to navigate Vincent across his social and romantic plights, and evolve the character as you see fit. Moral choices peppered throughout the game determine whether you embrace the responsibility of adulthood, or go on with your carefree life. Either way, there are eight unique endings to accomplish, an element which adds to the replay value.
Additionally, you are supposed to control Vincent in his nightmares, as he tries to escape a grisly death. Scaling towers plays out more like a puzzle game; Vincent moves blocks, hangs off ledges and jumps his way across platforms – all of which may seem extremely awkward to the average gamer. However, even with the repetitiveness and touchy control issues, the gradual increase in the complexity of the puzzles makes solving them addictive. Catherine is the focus, not of the puzzles that you solve or your character,s nightmares, but in the deep storyline outside Vincent,s dreams. Through the course of the game, you will find a brilliantly complex plot that is not just limited to Vincent. Hanging out at his favorite bar, Vincent can interact with many patrons, each with their own worries. Helping them out allows you to change their fate, while granting you some perspective into your own woes.
The social simulation mechanics are not as deep as the developer,s prior games, but they work nonetheless to breathe life into the game and deliver a cohesive experience. Rounding off the package is a great mixture of 2D art and 3D models that stand out for their anime-style. The game sports classic J-Pop and jazz tunes, and some decent voice-work for an English dub.
In summary, Catherine is a niche game that immerses you into the plight of an adult, and indulges in some brilliant storytelling to make for an intriguing play-through. Catherine has got overall score of 7.8/10, which is very good. It may not be a game for everyone (especially under-age gamers), but the fact that it is Atlus’ best-launch yet, makes it a game worth considering.