Review: Catherine

One day a man has to grow up, no more endless nights at the bar drinking with his friends or playing video games at his house. One day a man will meet a woman who’s willing to share the rest of her life with him. It’s normal to have a lot of questions during that specific period of life. Some men will get afraid of the responsibility and the commitment they have to make and will desperately try to find a way to gain back their freedom.

Vincent is such a man, trapped between Katherine, who wants to marry him and the extremely good looking Catherine, he has to make the choice of his lifetime. Will he overcome his fears of committing? Or will the call for freedom be to big?

Catherine is a game that gives you the opportunity to live the life of a mid-aged male not knowing what to do with his live. On one side there’s Katherine, his long-time girlfriend willing to spend the rest of her life with him. On the other side we have Catherine, a mysterious girl who randomly appeared at the bar one night. She’s extremely good looking and seems to be very interested in Vincent. Even though this ‘problem’ is making Vincent really nervous, it’s nothing compared to the nightmares he’s having lately.

The nightmares are the heart of the game and you’ll spend most of your time there. In fact the game can be divided in three different sections. You’ll have the professional made anime, the nightmares and the interactions between you and the crowd at the bar. But let’s focus on the nightmares just now. The reason why you ended up there is the ‘curse’. Cheating men will end up in this terrifying series of nightmares as sheep until they die or get out alive. Although Vincent doesn’t understand the reason why he’s there, the gamer will get the picture quite fast. This makes the nightmare sections a real interesting struggle to survive.

During the nightmares you’ll have to climb different constructions that consists out of cubes. The goal is to reach the bell on top of the construction. This sounds easy but is actually hard to complete sometimes. The cubes are strategically placed by the creators and it’s up to you to solve this huge puzzle over and over again. You’ll have to push and move over different cubes so that you will create a path that gives you the chance to reach the top.

The puzzles are hard to explain on paper but you’ll pick them up fast. In no time you’ll find yourself creating stairs or pass troughs from different cubes all over the playfield. To make the puzzling even more exciting the bottom row of cubes is falling down automatically. Therefore you’ll not only need to figure out the puzzle, you have to make sure you do it fast enough so you’ll stay ahead of the falling cubes bellow. If you die in the dream, you die in real life as well.

But that’s not all, you’ll also have to take the different type of cubes and boss battles into account if you wish to survive. The different type of cubes won’t be available at the start of the game but will unlock in the higher and more difficult levels. You’ll face ice cubes, heavy cubes that can’t be lifted, moving monster cubes and much more during your quest. The different type means a different style of playing and solving the puzzle. It really adds something to the gameplay and is a welcome variation after the first few ‘normal’ levels.

This extra challenge however is nothing compared to the impressive boss battles. First of all I must say that the bosses are definitely one of the most disturbing creatures ever in a video game. I won’t spoil to much but you can expect cursed babies and much, much more. All of these bosses have one goal and one goal only, destroying you and thereby ending your life and nightmare. They all have insane powers and will do everything that it takes to end your quest premature. Some of them will constantly change the type of cubes while others will throw punches at you. The normal puzzles already are a race against the clock but it’s nothing compared to the adrenaline you’ll feel during the boss fights.

Although the game would be definitely worth checking out if it just featured this innovating puzzle, there’s a lot more to enjoy than just these nightmares. Another big part of the game consist out of a professional made anime. In the anime you’ll follow the story of Vincent and his continuous struggle between both of the girls. The fun part however is that the anime won’t be the same for every gamer. During your playtime you’ll have to answer a few questions. The result of the answer can have effect on your relationship between you and Katherine or Catherine. Depending on the answer you’ll be more of an angel or a devil. Choose the wrong answers and you’ll end up with the girl you don’t won’t to hang out with.

The anime adepts on these different choices and will even conclude the story in eight different ways, depending on your personality. If you wish to see the other endings, you’ll have to go through the game once more and make different choices. It’s definitely a first that a game like this changes the storyline so drastically depending on your decisions. In this case however it’s great that the game does this because you’ll spend a lot of time just watching your screen while enjoying the anime.

Because watching the anime the whole time could become boring, the creators gave you enough space to interact. In fact the anime will pop-up during rare occasions, the real story develops in the ‘Stray Sheep’ bar. In this place you can talk to your friends and other people (who sometimes have similarities to the other sheep in your nightmares) and discover more of the story. That not all however, you’ll be able to play a little arcade game, go to the toilet to check out Catherine’s… interesting photos on your cellphone or you can get drunk.

Don’t get me wrong but getting drunk really is a great idea in this game. Not only will you learn a lot of trivia concerning the drinks your ordering, you’ll also move faster during the nightmares. The more drunk you are, the faster you’ll walk during the nightmares.

All in all, Catherine turned out the be a very unique game. Combining a soft horror story with intense puzzling and interesting anime sections, it turned out to something very special. Not many games like this will release the coming years and it’s definitely worth checking out. You won’t get bored out of the story and you’ll feel very connected to Vincent and his daily troubles. Don’t let the odd art style fool you, this is most definitely one of the most unique and fun games I played in a while. Don’t be scared of innovation and give Catherine the chance it (she) deserves.

Game Rate: 9/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.