Catherine is a weird one to say the least and unlike any other game you’re likely to have played. In short the only way this can be described is to imagine your worst nightmare if it consisted of bad sex, the idea of marriage and a really long hard game of Jenga?
Developed by Atlus and published by Deep Silver in Europe, Catherine is primarily an adult orientated anime animated story with interactive elements and nightmare puzzle worlds where the objective is to trying to stay alive. It touches on the myth that if you fall to your death in your dreams, you die in real life if you don’t wake up in time. The puzzle elements throughout involve maneuvering giant blocks to help you climb up a whole mountain of them, but one wrong move and you fall to your death. Going to be brutally honest now – it’s fucking hard, but very addictive!
The story involves the main protagonist Vincent, a 32 year old man living on his own, working full time and has been in a long term relationship – so long that he can’t even remember how long – it’s been THAT long! Katherine, (note with a K) is his other half, a sexy looking slim blonde bird in a tight fitting secretary suit who has just started hinting at wanting even more commitment, it couldn’t be any more obvious she wants to get married, but Vincent is a little freaked out. The nightmare starts when Vincent goes on a bit of a bender with his mates in the Stray Sheep bar and ends up boning a complete stranger called Catherine (note with a C). Catherine appears to be the provocatively dressed, more sexually adventurous, less committed type of woman in comparison to Katherine – and now riddled with guilt caused by his antics, Vincent must face the consequences of his actions through his nightmares, but noticed he is not alone in his dilemma. Anthropomorphic sheep, each representing a human male with the same deadly sin will follow you on your journey for freedom.
In the world surrounding Catherine, men in their 30’s are dropping like flies with unexplained mysterious deaths most likely the cause of a woman’s wrath –better known as the curse of a cheating man. Within the game it’s easy to see why Vincent cheated on Katherine in the first place; she’s a typical nagging woman who wants to take full control within the relationship, so it’s just doomed from the onset. You do get to interact and meet many other people within the game, so the choices you make should be done wisely –you never know when a bad mistake might come back and haunt you!
So, without spoiling the whole story, Catherine is a hard-as-hell puzzle game that features multiple endings dependent upon your actions and choices. The main story is told throughout the daytime, and it is the decisions you make here which determine your continued path. It’s very much a choice of saint vs. sinner and it is down to the decisions you make for yourself here that will allow for multiple endings with each play through. During the daytime, this is also where you can hang out with your mates, text your women, have a few drinks, get pissed – and the nightmares then begin during the evening when you are finally asleep. It is when you enter your nightmares that the puzzle mode begins and over the course of a few days it progressively becomes more challenging to stay alive.
The puzzles within the nightmares require you to scale a mountain of blocks to move up from the lower levels to the higher level, but in order to reach your goal the blocks require you to move them around so that you can climb up them. It sounds relatively simple, but before long you are racking your brain as both timing and quick responses are of the essence before the blocks fall beneath your feet. Some blocks crumble away, others host spears to trap you, some fall on you – and then the are some that can’t be moved at all. The further into the game you get, the more complex the puzzles become and new blocks with different elements about them appear to make it even harder for you. If you’re worried about saving your progress due to the difficulty of the game, in-between the levels are handy points where you can save your progress and learn a few tricks from the other sheep.
Whilst still in the nightmare gameplay, the final part of each level features a boss game where it’s not only about building the blocks to reach the top, but it’s also a race against you and the boss in order to stay alive. As this is your worst nightmare in a predicament about the moral choices you make between two women, the bosses are evil incarnations of the women in your life out for total revenge and torture. There are a few rewards along the way too including money for buying magical items to help you on your quest, pillows to allow you extra tries after you will undoubtedly fall to your death many times, and a lot of points for speed if you progress faster than anticipated.
If you’ve managed to play through enough times on at least the games Normal setting and net yourself a high enough score for a Gold Prize you can unlock a challenging two-player mode that offers extra hours of endless fun – or stress depending upon how you look at it, and you can compete on the games leaderboards to play through some of the trials individually.
Visually the game is as previously stated an interactive anime story with great amounts of dialogue to keep you hooked and wanting more. You get to watch the drama unfold before your eyes as you take full control of Vincent’s life – the outcome is in entirely in your hands as you decide upon which woman is worthy of his time, Catherine or Katherine…
Do not be misled by the games cover as it may not be the most masculine shade of pink and initially appear like a game for the wife or girlfriend, but the 18 rating is there for a reason as it contains strong sexual themes, violence, horror, and the best use of bad language.
Catherine is an outstanding game that will either shock you or surprise you, if it manages both then it’s money well spent. If having an affair is this much of a nightmare… I’d rather keep my dick in my pants!
Catherine ‘Stray Sheep’ Limited Edition and Standard Editions are available in stores across Europe now.