Don’t judge a book by its cover – in this case, video game. I remember when I first saw the video game Catherine. I was in my local GameStop with my boyfriend when he spotted the game and told me, “I own this game. It’s really cool!”
So when my boyfriend showed me the game cover, I was a bit turned off by the cover art…
I totally thought it was a sex game. Who could blame me?
Well, I trusted my boyfriend’s taste in video games, so I played through Catherine. I am happy to say that it is NOT a sex game. Yes, it is definitely an adult themed game, but still not a sex game.
Created and published by Atlus, the masterminds behind the Persona series, Catherine is a puzzle-platformer adventure game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Not a sex game.
You play as a 32 year old man named Vincent, who is honestly kind of a deadbeat and spends his evenings drinking the night away in a bar with his equally-deadbeat friends. He is carefree, enjoys living alocne, and has no ambitions as far as romance goes. This frustrates his girlfriend Katherine, who is his polar opposite. Stern, business oriented, and always planning for the future, Katherine is eager to marry Vincent and start a family.
I guess opposites attract, right?
Anyways, one night at the bar, Vincent meets a hot little blonde number named Catherine, gets really drunk, wakes up with her in his bed the next morning. After meeting her, Vincent can’t go a night without disturbing nightmares where he must climb a tower of crumbling blocks in a hellish dimension inhabited by sheep. These sheep are actually other people sharing Vincent’s nightmares, sentenced to climb to the top of the tower to atone for their sins.
That’s where the puzzle portion of the game kicks in. You must push and pull the blocks to reach the top of the tower. Your goal is to ultimately keep climbing so you can reach the cathedral and be saved from your sins – and all the climbing.
The puzzles get progressively harder by adding in trick blocks that crumble, shoot spikes, explode, etc. Sheep will occasionally try to push you off the blocks. The boss fights become more terrifying, in which a disturbing monster will chase you up the tower. Overall, just finding the right path becomes harder. Luckily, between stages, you are able to share climbing techniques with other sheep.
You get to choose your difficulty for the stages. I am honestly not that great at puzzles, so I set it to easy, but it was still actually really hard. Prepare to be frustrated.
And if you bought the game because you thought it’d be a sex game, you’ll be really, really, really frustrated.
If this game sounds really annoying to you, don’t worry – I haven’t even explained the best parts yet.
When you’re NOT having a disturbing nightmare, you are balancing between Katherine and Catherine. I’m generally not a huge romance fan, but the tension between Vincent and the two girls in the cut scenes is extremely engaging. As Vincent continues to cheat, things only become more intense. His relationship with Katherine progresses, yet Catherine continues to show up in his room.
My favorite thing about Catherine is it’s one of those games where your actions determine the outcome of the game. Will you choose the sexy, carefree Catherine? Will you start a family with Katherine? Maybe choose neither?
The interactive portion of the game mainly takes place in the bar. You are able to chat with your friends and the other customers, who will give you hints about the plot and pass time. Don’t forget to drink a ton – getting drunk increases your climbing speed in your nightmares.
While at the bar, Catherine and Katherine will text you, generally about how you are doing or about something that happened earlier in the cut scenes. The game offers a selection of preset texts for you to choose from. However you respond will affect the outcome of the game. To see where you’re at in case you have a preferred option, a meter will appear at the bottom of the screen. If the arrow is pointing in the red, you are leaning towards Catherine. If it’s blue, you’re leaning towards Katherine.
Before each stage, you are asked a moral question (ex: “Is it okay to lie?”) and are given two answers to pick from. Your choice will also affect the meter.
As annoying as the puzzles are, the nerve-wracking interactions between Vincent and the girls make it all worth it. It forces you to face some uncomfortable, tempting, and sadly realistic situations for those experiencing dishonesty in a relationship. The game brings a fresh outlook on relationship drama with a horror spin – if you cheat on your girlfriend, prepare to pay the consequences.
Have you ever played Catherine? What did you think? Comment below!