Quirky, bizarre, twisted, with the fresh twist of Japanese pop culture are hallmark to Atlus. From the guys who brought us the Persona series comes Catherine Atlus’s first foray on the HD consoles this generation.
Like the Persona games before, Catherine takes a rather mature stance on lofty issues and hard to approach subjects. This time around the main conflict revolves around the main character Vincent who is a less than ambitious guy, is confronted by his long time girlfriend Katherine about getting a bit more serious and tying the knot with marriage. Being the kind of guy he is, Vincent is downright panicked at the thought of being tied down for the rest of his life. As Vincent struggles with with this new knowledge he encounters a mysterious woman named Catherine who is in his eyes the ideal woman, Blond hair, provocative clothing, finds everything about him amazing, and last but not least she also doesn’t want to be tied down. So our uncharismatic hero is caught between a rock and a hard place decided whether he should stay with his current Girlfriend Katherine, or take a walk on the wild side with Catherine.
“So many choices”
Unfortunately for Vincent the latter part of “Choosing” whether to take a walk on the wild side seems to have been made without his sober consent. Vincent then struggles to avoid being caught cheating on his girlfriend and also find out what direction he is heading in life now that this has happened, a plethora of problems are now headed Vincents way and his indiscretions are the least of his worries. While all these daytime shenanigans are happening, people are starting to turn up dead from unknown causes. The rumors is that “Cheating men are cursed by a witch, they will then dream about falling and if they hit the bottom they die” Vincent happens to fit this description to a tee and finds himself smack dab in nightmare land.
“Falling in your dreams tends to have unexpected results in the real world.”
Vincent now starts having recurring nightmares where he must scale this never ending tower of bricks to survive. Getting a hang of these controls will take a while, the game does a great job in easing you into the controls and giving you tips through the entire game when new elements are introduced. Some may complain the game lacks a bit of variety but with several types of challenging blocks and the generally changing theme of the levels as you advance seem to be the perfect difficulty curve. I will warn you now that you will not find this easy in any way shape or form, even the most seasoned puzzle game veterans are sure to be challenged by some of the complex solutions to a few predicaments that are presented, expect to die, and to die alot. The key to being able to blaze through a challenging level usually lies in the sum of 20 or so missteps, trial and error is the name of the game.
Each night in the tower is followed up with a “Boss” of sorts, these come in variety of shapes and sizes, to avoid spoiling the suprise I will refrain from saying what each night holds. Each boss stems from Vincents subconscious and the game does a superb job visualizing your doubts and insecurities into monstrous entities. Each boss has there own way of “attacking” you while you ascend the tower from changing the type of bricks you are climbing to flat out removing them from under your feet. The one issue I have with this game is that a few of the bosses add a element of “Luck” to your climb rather than being able to skillfully dodge some attacks they can outright kill you if your caught in the wrong position. A good example would be whenever a boss uses a attack vincent is forced to freeze due to the camera focusing on the action, sometimes his “Freezing” on certain blocks will spell instant death where it was not intended. Walking onto a spike-trap and being forced to freeze because the boss is mowing down a set of blocks 8 stories below you is less than a exciting experience.
“If I was having these nightmares I’d get hammered every night as well.”
If you are lucky enough to survive Vincents nightmare you will be treated to the daily life of this poor schmoe, wich does not include his work because who cares about work right? Vincent will generally wake up, deal with some new life altering issue, and head to the bar to forget it ever happened. During your time in the bar you will garner clues as to what is really going on and that your not the only one having crazy dreams.
Almost everyone in the bar seems to be in the same boat as Vincent, you will actually find most of the bar patrons in your nightmares between levels questioning their self worth among other things. You can interact with them in and outside of the dreams but nobody remembers anything specific about the nightmare when they are awake. Be sure to make the time to talk to everyone you can, because it appears that without Vincents gleaming hope that they might not make it to the bar the next day and wind up on the news…dead.
Of course there are other things to do at the bar besides gossiping with the patrons, you can get stone drunk. (This actually makes you move faster in your nightmares so there is no downside to getting hammered and grants you with some interesting trivia that only the most hardcore Alchaholics would have known beforehand). As time passes in the bar you will receive Phone calls and texts from Katherine and Catherine, almost every decision you make through the game effects where your relationship with the two go. Personally I wish we had more control during encounters with the two ladies in Vincents life, we are usually only treated to a animated cutscene where our alignment causes Vincents inner monologues to take a spin in favor of one of the women.
While the social aspects of the game don’t really live up to the hype, the characters themselves are amazingly deep and well voiced to boot. Everyone you encounter is so full of depth you could almost imagine the story being able to play out with any of them. The characters are so amazingly deep it gives me chills to see if Atlus decides to go anywhere else with the series. Vincent himself has an amazing shift of character through the game showing how he has grown in the face of adversity going from a meek under achiever to becoming a beacon of shining hope to all those around him the transition is night and day and blends so well it’s hard to pinpoint when he started to evolve as a character. The plot may appear so simple when it begins but slowly ramps up and takes twists and turns that nobody would expect bringing the game to a massive pinacle that I doubt many would want to pass up.
I’m sure to hear alot of silly complaints about this game that will be totally unfounded.
– Sex game
– Too hard
– Puzzles are not for me
– I hate anime so I hate this game
Let me tell you the last thing this game advocates is that sex sells, people who say this are just ignorant and uninformed. The game is challenging but is so deep and rewarding when you finally surmount the trials you will be proud that you can climb the hell out of some blocks. The puzzles are not only ingaging they are fast paced giving a fresh twist to puzzles where you sit and find the perfect solution, for the most part there is never just one way to climb the tower there are always several ways you can trump the tower. As far as people who say they hate anime and anime stories…I will compare the depth of this to some of the best stories I have ever seen in a game, they not only tackle such a iffy topic but take it on with such ****and human character it’s hard to not be drawn in and lost in the world of Catherine.
With multiple endings, and challenge modes you will find yourself wanting for even more than this game has to offer. If anything this game suceeded in making me want more, nothing they do will ever satiate my need to climb the hell out of these block towers and I will be returning to Catherine for years to come.
Amazing job Atlus! I emplore you to come off the Persona tracks again and treat us with another original inspired game like this.
How anyone could not recomend this game is beyond me, personally I think everyone should brave the tower and find their own answer in Catherine!
I give Catherine a perfect score, the minor issues are nowhere near enough to drag this masterpiece of a game down.