Genre: Action-RPG with Platformer and Visual Novel Elements
Release Date: July 2011
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
There is a special Love is Over edition that included a pillow case, men’s boxers, a pizza box, tshirt, and some other goodies. I have this version and took some pictures when I got it a few years ago at release.
There’s also special box art for the 360 version, but I don’t have that, it is however, available, as well as the Love is Over edition, via the Amazon links above. The standard edition of the game costs about $12. And for PS3 you can also get the digital version. The limited edition will cost about $95.
Concept 10/10: The concept of Catherine is quite unique. The gameplay is a bit like Qbert in a way while in Vincent’s nightmares. You see, Vince is having bad dreams because he is worried about being caught cheating on his long-time girlfriend, Katherine with a K, with his hot new heartthrob, Catherine with a C. He’s so scared of being caught that every night he sees strange demons trying to eat him in his sleep. He must climb an endless tower, where the screen moves from the bottom up, while avoiding monsters and obstacles, and racing against a clock to make it to the exit of each dream. When not dreaming, Vince meets with the girls and his other friends in a local bar where the gameplay is very similar to a visual novel. You watch numerous cutscenes and choose the “correct” answer to get different endings ultimately within the game. There are numerous endings, including, good, bad, and true endings for each girl, and good, and true endings for Vince being single as well. So it’s a total of 8 different endings. The entire game is cel-shaded, in a way that’s never been done, before or since, at least not in any game that ever found it’s way to this side of the world. It’s so beautiful. It’s like watching an interactive anime. (actually school days may be similar now that I think about it; but Catherine’s art is higher quality.)
I covered a lot of the other aspects of the game which I’m reviewing below here in the concept above, but I feel like all of these elements make Catherine, what it is, and are what make it such a unique and awesome gaming experience and therefore, they’re all part of the “concept” of the game.
Gameplay 10/10: As mentioned above, the gameplay is really two fold. In his waking hours, Vincent interacts with the girls and his friends in visual novel fashion. When Vince returns home and falls asleep, the gameplay switches into a sort of Qbert style, climbing and jumping from blocks, which fall, as the screen moves and you race against the clock, grabbing power ups, and avoiding monsters and obstacles along the way. There’s also a number of interesting minigames and sidequests available back in the bar as well.
There are numerous difficulty settings in the game, including one hidden “Very Easy” mode which you can access by holding down select on the main screen until you hear a ding sound go off. You can then select Easy mode which will now become Very Easy. In this mode, more powerups appear, and the nightmare modes are all the same as easy. You can also climb 3 blocks at a time with special power drinks. This allows you to play the game more like a visual novel, by (practically) skipping all the puzzles in the game. I think this version is great for your second, third, etc playthrough, but kinda kills the fun of the game if this is your first playthrough. Part of the fun of the game is the difficult puzzles which await you in Vincent’s dreams. If you want a challenge, you can also decide to play the game on Nightmare mode. Different achievements are also available for different difficulty levels. But the story is the same regardless, so if you ONLY want to see the different stories/endings and enjoy the game in a relaxing way, feel free to pick an easier difficulty setting.
Graphics: 10/10 The majority of the graphics are all real-time 3d cell shaded anime style. I think there may be some anime cutscenes mixed in too; but the cell shaded 3d models are so good that it’s hard to tell sometimes which ones are 3d and which ones are 2d (if any). The graphics are truly unique and a sight to behold. They are vibrant, colorful, and look like a real anime. I’ve never seen a game with this style before. Check out these screenshots below as you continue to read the review.
Story: 10/10 Vince has a long time girlfriend, Katherine. Katherine wants Vince to get married, but Vince is too immature for such a big commitment. While struggling with both his feelings of love and feelings of fear, Vince meets Catherine, a girl who walks into his life unexpectedly and begins to have a week long affair with her. Tormented by feelings of guilt towards his longtime girlfriend, Katherine, Vincent begins to have nightmares each and every single night in which demons are chasing him. What unfolds next is a deadly love triangle. Can Vincent keep his affair a secret? Can he make the girls happy? And can he keep his own conscious from eating away at him?
Characters: 10/10 One of the really cool things about Catherine’s story is that it does not try to impose a “right” way to play onto you. None of the characters are perfect, not Vince, nor Catherine, nor Katherine. They all have flaws, they’re all equally to blame for any relationship problems within the course of the game; but they all have endearing qualities as well. Vince himself is feeling pressured to marry his long time girlfriend Katherine. Vince doesn’t really want to get married, but he realizes that if he doesn’t marry her, she will break up with him. Katherine is a VERY strong woman, and perhaps more woman than Vince can handle. She is very demanding in the relationship and she isn’t above lying or manipulating Vince to play on his emotions to make him more sympathetic to her and try to rush him into a marriage that he isn’t even sure he wants. Around this same time, Vince suddenly meets Catherine, a girl who only wants a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. She makes Vince feel alive, and young, and free, and all of the qualities that Katherine lacks, Catherine has in spades. However, when it comes to love, and a real lasting relationship, Catherine is too immature; she’s like Vince; she isn’t ready for all of that, and as the game progresses, Vince realizes that Katherine’s stability and commitment to him is something unique and special that Catherine can never offer him. (and for good reason too, but I won’t spoil that). There are basically, 3 routes you can take. Go back and beg Katherine for forgiveness, turn your back on her and continue down the path of sin and lust with Catherine, or tell both girls to go F*** themselves and realize your own dreams and ambitions which is perhaps the best feeling of all. However, the game never makes you feel like one ending or choice is better than the others. They both have pluses and minuses. They aren’t “right or wrong” they’re just different choices. That’s all. I also really like the artwork for the characters, Vince’s hair style is so cute. I want to play with it. It looks fluffy! lol. And both of the girls are ridiculously beautiful. Catherine is so cute, youthful, sexy, flirty, etc; while Katherine exudes maturity, calmness, intelligence, and a sort of refined elegance which is also sexy in it’s own right.
Music: 10/10 The music in this game is composed by Shoji Meguro and is often compared to the soundtracks of Persona 3 and Persona 4. Atlus USA released a version of this soundtrack with their Love is Over limited edition release (pictured above). You can listen to the soundtrack on youtube below:
Or you can pick the soundtrack online on sites like Amazon.com It’s out of print though and as of this writing goes for about $80. Here’s a link where you can check the current prices. http://www.amazon.com/CATHERINE-ORIGINAL-SOUDTRACK-MUSIC-O-S-T/dp/B004GN9AW6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445396054&sr=8-1&keywords=catherine+ost
This is the full soundtrack which is DIFFERENT from the one that Atlus USA included in their special edition. The soundtrack included in Love is Over, only has 11 songs, which are the levels in Vince’s nightmares. It does not include the cutscene music and other tracks. However, the link above, via Amazon will include all of these awesome tracks for you.
Voice Acting: 7/10 My review is for the English dub voice cast. I thought they were fairly good actually for a dub. There were times where I felt they were overacting a tad. But it wasn’t distracting. Catherine has a cute, peppy sugary sweet voice; while Katherine is more quiet and refined, both of which fit their characters perfectly. Vince has kinda a dopey goofy voice, which I guess fits his character. I haven’t watched the japanese voice actors on youtube. I dunno if they are better, my guess would be yes. lol. It’s not that I hate the english cast though. I find it to be better than the Persona dub (which isn’t horrible either). (It may even have some of the same actors. I don’t follow the English voice acting “scene” so I wouldn’t know.) Their performances are all very convincing. Vince has a goofy scream sometimes, but it’s supposed to convey his fear (of himself/his conscious/his actions) and I think it does convey a lot of stress and emotion.
Replay Value: 10/10 The 7 different endings force you to play multiple times to see the entire story. You can skip cutscenes you’ve seen already, and you can also use the cheat above to get a “Very Easy” gameplay mode to make your multiple replays fast and as pain free as possible so you can just enjoy the story. The endings and the plot are very different, not just small differences, but very unique. This makes it a very rewarding game on multiple playthroughs. If you like achievements there are different ones which are specific to different difficulty settings which you will have to play to unlock them all.
Overall: 86/90 96% A “Excellent Game For Girls”
In fact, the Mature rating, horror, gore, and sexual themes, make it a great game for guys too 🙂 Maybe a good way to introduce your guy friends to anime or visual novels.