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avatar Developed by Atlus
Published by Atlus
2011 / ESRB: M
Reviewed By Torengo
(This post was last modified: 12-07-2013 07:12 PM by Torengo.)

Post: #1

Available for: Xbox 360PlayStation 3
It's been a while since there's been a game so reminiscent of classic arcade gameplay. Catherine occupied much of my time delighting me with that old-school linearity as its modern theme and overtone helped maintain its freshness. In Catherine, the player takes the role of Vincent "Vince" Brooks, a cruising thirty-something stuck in a comfortable rut with his girlfriend, whose life comes to chaos after an incidental tryst with the titular twenty-something blonde bombshell. After meeting Catherine, Vince begins having nightmares wherein he must climb to the top of crumbling towers to survive the night.

Catherine's linear gameplay is new for most gamers who have not experienced games from the golden age of gaming, and reminiscent for those familiar with the era. While 3D rendered games as we know now were not available in the 80s, Catherine's controls, rules, and objective are nods to those found in classics like Pac-Man, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong.

Catherine has an overworld and underworld dynamic. The overworld is the "real life" events of the game, set in the Stray Sheep bar where Vince meets to socialize with his friends as they eavesdrop on conversations of other patrons. The underworld consists of the nightmares. The player progresses by climbing and shifting blocks to ascend the towers before Vince. The player learns techniques to aid in climbing the towers faster for higher scores. Players can collect items to aid in climbing or, as luck would have it, get wasted at the bar to be granted movement speed in the dreams. Additionally, the overworld has an arcade game called "Rapunzel" which bears similarities to Vince's nightmares.

The gameplay is only enhanced and augmented by the story. The story is deep enough to draw the attention of passers-by and begin conversation on a philosophical level. As Vince progresses through the nightmares, the player must answer relationship themed questions. The answers determine Vince's inner monologue during cut-scenes, and may reveal tidbits about the player.

System: The system is straightforward. Anyone can pickup the game and play. No learning curve.

Design: For a game that is mostly a climb to the top, there are some surprising puzzle elements thrown in. For each night of the nightmares, there is an overall theme for each level. Different blocks are introduced to throw the player off his game, but are easily overcome once adapted. The only real complaint to be had is the camera control, as a need to change the camera angle is largely non-existent until late into the game. And when the player finally wants to make adjustments, they will find that the camera functions counter-intuitively to what they know.

Sound/Music: Catherine features typical vocalization expected of a game in its graphical style. However, its soundtrack is beautiful. With some mellow original tracks thrown in, the musical selection is comprised in large part of classical pieces from the works of Beethoven and Chopin remixed to give a daunting sense of urgency.

Graphics: Catherine is a spinoff of the Atlus's Persona series. And, as such, features anime-style visuals. The character renderings are well done and look like they could easily be placed in a CG anime. However, Atlus choose to include 2D animated cut scenes along with CG real-time cut scenes which could be seen as pointless, but they give the player some needed downtime and a chance to enjoy the story at Catherine's core.
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