Catherine is the Perfect Game to Play This Valentine’s Day

Catherine

No developer/publisher dares to be different like Atlus, and not many games dare to be as different as Catherine.

Catherine comes from Atlus’ ‘Persona Team’, but it isn’t a role-playing game like the games in that series. It is a narrative-driven interactive anime drama about the trials and tribulations of love; a game that forces players, assuming the role of emotionally confused protagonist Vincent Brooks, to confront their feelings about marriage and commitment and choose between the wife and mother material girlfriend, Katherine, or the slutty, blonde fling picked up at the bar, Catherine.

Would you date someone who is married? Is it easier to love or to be loved? Can you show your significant other the contents of your cell phone? Would you be bothered by your partner having a good friend of the opposite sex? Questions like these are posed throughout the game, and your answers sway Vincent’s morality meter one way or the other and influence how the story unfolds. Your answers are even calculated into an online pole so you can see a pie chart breakdown of how other players responded.

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Weirdly, this deep, thought-provoking storyline is wrapped around a masochistically difficult block-based puzzle game challenging you to navigate trap-laden towers, quickly pushing and pulling blocks to construct stairways leading to the exit. An odd pairing indeed–but odd is exactly what this game does best.

A bizarre series of events sees young males mysteriously dying in their sleep. Vincent is the latest victim, his tormented mind, guilty conscious, and/or some supernatural phenomena is causing him to have nightmares in which he must climb block towers before the bottom gives way. If he dies in his dreams, he dies in real life. In video game terms, it means game over.

As you progress through Vincent’s nightly nightmares, of which there are nine altogether, the puzzles grow progressively difficult. Enemy sheep begin to block your way and different block traps introduce deadly new wrinkles every step of the way. There are blocks that shoot up spikes that kill Vincent instantly, causing him to splatter into a bloody mess of innards and bones. Certain blocks activate time bombs that tick down and weaken adjacent blocks. Some blocks are made of ice, causing Vincent to slide over the edge should you walk him across the surface. You also have to deal with blocks that simply can’t be pushed or pulled. Later on, blocks with mouths mix things up further by licking Vincent off if he hangs down to shimmy in front of them. They also randomly shift in formation without advanced notice.

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The puzzle mechanic itself never really changes, but there’s still plenty of variety to keep you feeling stumped with each passing level. Catherine is one challenging game, too. True, some of the difficulty stems from an awkward camera and somewhat stiff controls, but mostly it’s because the game’s just really damn hard. If you just want to play through for the story, an easy setting makes surviving through to the end a relatively pain-free task. But bump the difficulty up to normal or hard, and you’ll be screaming for mommy soon enough.

I may not have a significant other in my life right now, but one thing is clear to me after playing Catherine: Love is a nightmarish world filled with murderous sheep, traps, and falling blocks. It’s also a perfect game to play on Valentine’s Day–hey, that’s today! I can only imagine how fun it would be to play through the game, significant other snuggling at the side, seeing how each mate responds to the questions and conundrums Vincent faces. Co-op and versus puzzle challenges even give lovers the chance to play together on the side.

You won’t get it in time to play tonight unfortunately, but Catherine just so happens to be Amazon’s ‘Deal of the Day’, selling for just $29.99. Or, if you’re playing on PS3, just last week a full game download version launched on PSN for $39.99 (with a free full game trial available to PlayStation Plus subscribers and demo versions available on both consoles), so you can download immediately without leaving the house.

If you’re lonely this Valentine’s Day evening or are in the mood for a shared couples gaming experience, Catherine is a hot date that’s sure to please. (Just make sure you have a love of anime first.)

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!