I had the opportunity to sit down and watch an hour’s worth of Catherine being demoed to get a small taste of what this game is all about. Let me just say, if you like puzzles and crazy storylines, you’re in for a treat.
You play as Vincent, a computer programmer that likes drinking, hanging out with his buddies and living a less than eventful life. He has a girlfriend named Katherine who he’s been with for a long time. Katherine wants to get married; Vince- not so much. So one night, while thinking it over, Vincent gets completely wasted and blacks out. Vince wakes up the next morning with a young blonde naked woman in his bed. Oddly enough, her name is Catherine. Unable to remember what exactly he did the night before, Vincent is told he had basically cheated on Katherine with her. Now, Vince must choose; does he want to go for Catherine or Katherine? Here’s where the crazy comes into play. Recently, young men have been found dead in their sleep with very gruesome looks on their faces. Vincent begins having strange nightmares that revolve around him trying to climb a tower always in constant fear of falling. He comes to the conclusion that if he falls and dies in his dreams, he will die in the real waking life.
The game play is that of a puzzle game. You control Vincent in his dreams while he scales a tower made of blocks. It is up to the player to navigate Vince up the tower by moving certain blocks to make steps for him to climb. Some of the first few towers are simple. Later on in the game, though, they become very difficult to maneuver. During this, Vince can use power ups that do certain things. These give him advantages like an extra block to lie down or a step back, just in case he messes up.
Later on in the game, you will meet sheep people that are trying to climb the tower as well. These are other young men dreaming the same nightmare Vincent is dreaming. These guys can hinder you and block you from climbing. There are also boss fights at the end of each chapter. The bosses represent Vincent’s true fears. During these “fights” Vince must escape to the top of a tower before the boss catches up to him. This is where the game can get frantic. As your trying to position yourself and the blocks correctly, you’re being chased down by creepy looking manifestations of Vincent’s subconscious.
When awake, Vincent spends most of his time at the bar he frequents talking with his friends and trying to figure out what to do about the two love interests he is involved with. During these times, Vince gets text messages and emails that the player can choose how to respond to. Depending on what you choose, Vince’s “karma” will change toward chaos or order. Your alignment and the choices you make will determine the final ending of the game. Think of these somewhat like the social aspects of Persona 3 and 4.
The cut scenes and animations look very detailed and the animation studio behind all the work has done a fantastic job. The voice acting is very well done, and the story seems to be rather interesting and entertaining. Catherine’s gameplay is unique. I had honestly never really seen a game like it before. After watching Atlus demo the game, I definitely want to see more of it. Luckily, we won’t have to wait too much longer. Catherine releases in North America July 26th.