PS3 Reviews: Catherine Review

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Catherine Review

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Graphics:

 

8.8

Gameplay:

 

9.0

Sound:

 

8.7

Control:

 

8.6

Replay Value:

 

9.0

Overall Rating:       8.8

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Atlus

Developer:

Atlus

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Puzzle

Truly original games are few and far between these days. But I had my reservations for Catherine; despite the developer’s great reputation and the potential for their recent puzzle thriller, I foresaw too many stumbling blocks. How can you build an entire game around the same sort of puzzle? What if someone really isn’t a fan of anime? Is the gameplay too frustrating? What if the characters fail to be interesting? However, after playing for quite some time, I realize I should’ve had more faith. This is a refreshing, tantalizing adventure that offers an interactive experience like none other. The puzzles can be infuriating, but the overall package is special.

The production utilizes an interesting combination of high-definition anime cinematography and standard albeit colorful graphics during the gameplay portions. The movie segments are excellent from an artistic standpoint; they’re sharp and clean, and the characters are richly drawn. The in-between sections – like when you can wander around the Stray Sheep bar and talk to people – are just as accomplished, and as for the gameplay, the puzzle design is flat-out ingenious. The bosses (yes, they exist) are just insane and even the minor special effects are decent. It’s a strange combination, granted, but these visuals are top notch.

The sound is just as, if not more important than the graphics in such a game. There’s a ton of voice acting, the soundtrack needs to fit every element ranging from the erotic to the nightmarish, and the basic effects punctuate our frantic climbing. It all excels with the possible exception of the soundtrack, which gets a little repetitive the more you play. The voice performances are fantastic with only a few small exceptions, and the audio really shines during boss sequences. Even effects of lesser importance, like sudden spikes and crumbling blocks, are well defined. If you care, though, there is a balance issue, as the gameplay sound is about half as loud as the movies. Gotta keep the remote handy.

...

.........

...okay, this is getting ridiculous. I’ve been sitting here way too long, trying to figure out how best to describe the gameplay. I’ve considered being emotional and artistic, as that would indeed pay homage to Catherine’s storyline. But it takes too long and I’m not sure people care. So let’s go with the straightforward: first and foremost, this is a puzzle game and as I mentioned above, you’re always tackling the same sort of puzzle: it’s all about climbing. You have to move blocks around to create a pathway; you can only clamber up one step at a time, and you can’t jump. The blocks will attach to the edge of another block, which means they can sorta hover in the air provided an edge is touching. The latter is key to grasping this concept, and that can take a while.

Puzzle-climbing techniques will be revealed as you progress, provided you talk to the sheep at these safe spots that exist between trials. You’ll learn how to clamber along edges to find better paths, create the simple pyramid climb, and how falling and shifting blocks can be used to your advantage. You’ll come across different blocks; some don’t move at all, some have spike traps, and some crumble if you touch them twice. You’ll also locate items here and there, like the all-important pillow that gives you two extra Retries. Oh, and you don’t have all day: the puzzles are crumbling away beneath your feet as you climb.

Then there are boss encounters, which force you to climb even faster, as something diabolical is giving chase. If you fall at any time, you’re done. The idea is to keep finding those pillows and Checkpoints, and try to remember everything you’ve learned in tense situations. Now, about the control: the game tells you to use the directional buttons but you can also use the analog stick. Do not use the analog. The reason you’re told to use the directional buttons is because it’s more precise. I kept trying the analog and Vincent would leap atop a block when I just wanted him to face it. You just move too fast; you need to go step by step.

You wouldn’t think using the directional pad is fast enough, but it is, and it’s by far the most precise. It still can get a little annoying, though, especially when trying to avoid all the traps, and while you can move the camera, that doesn’t always help. After a while, I just stopped using it. If you can make it to the top, you will be rated on your performance; if you used any helping items (like the one that creates a block), your chances of getting the Gold plummet. But hey, your chances of getting higher scores during your first attempt is essentially nil, anyway. You can always go back and replay stages if you want better medals.

But as you might’ve guessed, the puzzles are only part of the experience. It’s the story and atmosphere that sets Catherine apart. The plot involves morality; depending on how you respond to people, you will swing towards good or evil. This includes replies to text messages on your phone, and most importantly, the answers to questions you receive in nightmares. You are committed to Katherine, your long-time girlfriend, but when you wake up in bed with Catherine, a cute little blonde bombshell who sidled up to you in the bar, things go a little crazy. Vincent starts having these nightamares and if he dies in them...he dies for good.

His friends aren’t big on the idea of marriage and kids, and Vincent is permanently confused. Katherine has been pushing for him to settle down, which has given him second thoughts, so Catherine’s timing is bad. ...or good, depending on how you look at it. The ending will depend on your views on the two distinct lifestyles: settled down or free as a bird. Of course, none of it will matter if you can’t survive and by the way, both girls in question will absolutely lose it if they find out you’re cheating. For me, the story doesn’t fully deliver on all counts; I’m left with several critical questions that go unanswered. Furthermore, I found the characters to be a little too one-dimensional for my tastes.

But as far as game premises and plots go, it’s pretty damn good. Plus, the production value is very high, and there are few flaws to speak of. The control can betray you – especially if you make the mistake of using the analog – and some of the dialogue is a little bland (too much filler; i.e., Vincent’s continual nervous and noncommital responses). That all being said, this is a unique experience that you cannot find anywhere else, and even on Normal, the challenge isn’t absurd. It’s hard and it may take you some time to wrap your noggin around the overall concept, but it’s amazingly addictive. You just can’t stop until you’ve conquered the climb.

Catherine is like nothing else but it doesn’t succeed on originality alone. It features a spectacular puzzle concept, fast-paced and very rewarding gameplay, interesting characters and an effective story, and an atmosphere and style that’s second-to-none. The pacing is just about right, the challenge is stiff but not overwhelming, and the addictive nature of the puzzle-solving keeps us coming back for more. Finally, we never want to skip the movie sequences due to the quality of the production; good voice acting and nice artistry round out the presentation. It can be irritating, the control is tight but not flawless, and the story has a few holes.

Overall, though, it’s one heck of a game. It isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking for something completely fresh, Catherine comes highly recommended. So, are you a family man or a free-wheeling bachelor?

The Good: Slick, sharp presentation and great atmosphere. Good voice acting. Ingenious and addictive puzzle design. Storyline is compelling and intriguing. Great pacing and overall balance. Success is very rewarding.

The Bad: Control isn’t perfect. Puzzles can be downright infurating at times. Plot has a few holes.

The Ugly: "Did I tell you to climb on the block? Did I? No, I told you to face it."

7/28/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (39 posts)

Palpatations911
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 9:26:21 PM
Reply

I agree, this is a very challenging video game but like Demon's Souls, completing those challenges feels very rewarding.

I'm digging the "old school challenge" this game presents - Well, for me it is a challenge.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

playaplus
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 9:42:09 PM
Reply

im stuck on the ice bride mainly because i stop thinkin and hit dpadd too fast n slip off ice. this is just the game i needed and im glad i did. im one happy customrr

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Palpatations911
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 9:45:24 PM

Take an aspirin and go back in dude. What are you doing on here? Lol

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Claire C
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 9:53:20 PM
Reply

Wow, seem much better than I hoped. Will have to look into it in the near future. =)

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playaplus
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 9:54:00 PM
Reply

this was yesterday lol...my brain needed a break..getting on in a few

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Oyashiro
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 10:19:45 PM
Reply

I'm currently on the 9th Night. And i'm loving the **** out of it. Apparently there are 8 ending you can get.

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cLoudou
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:15:47 PM

I will play through it first on normal for one ending and easy mode for other endings. I doubt I will try for all of them.

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StangMan80
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:44:39 PM

There is, 8? Well if that's true then it would be awesome!

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playaplus
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 10:38:32 PM
Reply

that's just one mean headache waiting to happen bub

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:05:11 PM
Reply

Good review, seems very much in line with what I expected and probably a little more realistic than some of the 9+s. Not that I want the game to have a lower score but I could see into the future of the puzzles as I played the demo.

The biggest hurdle that ultimately told me to wait is just that I don't like block puzzles on a time limit. Everything else about the game I love already so it's kind of like well I've got a ton of games unbeaten already. They will get my moneys eventually, and I hope it does well so Atlus can go ahead and make Persona 5. You know, all turn based and stuff.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 12:28:24 AM

Yeah, well, I hate the time limit myself. But that's subjective, I guess.

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darxed
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 9:26:18 AM

Yeah, let's bring Persona 5! Will buy this down the lane, put P5 is a day one buy for me!

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cLoudou
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:12:24 PM
Reply

Only on the 3rd night so far and I'm lovin' it. I'm really trying to savor and limit my playing of this game to one night a night to elongate the game and to save myself from headaches from smashing my head through the wall out of frustration. So far no head or controller smashing.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

StangMan80
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:46:04 PM

haha, That's actually a good idea.

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StangMan80
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:50:37 PM
Reply

This game surprised me. I mean it's always been interesting, just a little. But Once I played the Demo I was like.. "Wow, This game is so cool and so interesting!" I just want to keep playing, But the Demo ended.. :(

I'm for sure going to get it, I just won't pay $60 for it. But I'm going to get it even if I don't get it until Christmas morning.. Man, That's a ways away. Okay, I'll get it a while before that.
This game is awesome, From the reviews, Demo and trailers. I just might have to steal somebody's wallet.. Shhh...

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playaplus
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @ 11:51:53 PM
Reply

had to say this...since i dont see this mentioned in the article and see 1 player in the rating thing....there seems to be some type of co-op mode called pair

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Beamboom
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 12:24:59 AM

Really?! Online coop too? You know?

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sawao_yamanaka
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 2:39:06 AM

No online co op. You unlock it once you beat the game. It's pretty fun actually.

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OverBerg
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 2:01:23 AM
Reply

Wow. I'm really intrigued now. I never expected the reception this game has received (at least with US reviews). Challenging puzzles...interesting story? You have my hands reaching for my wallet, Catherine. I think I might just have to pick this up at some point. Might have to wait a while until it is cheaper, but that is just because there are so many other games I have in my MUST buy list. Maybe having a go at the demo will persuade me one way or another.

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bentl78
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 2:10:08 AM
Reply

just bought it.. and just started.. seems fun so far! :P

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 3:57:53 AM
Reply

I can't wait for this game to hit the UK (in October?). As I have said before it seems to follow on from Heavy Rain with an interactive Narative, giving the play decisions to make which'll affect the outcome and make the game more personal to the player. I also like the idea of the feature to look at other players decisions though out the game and find out how sleazy they really are XD

I don't know if you have noticed, but Francis Ford Coppola is trying to make an interactive narrative for his next film. He'll be in the cinemas playing the film and changing the scenes through out depending on peoples reactions. It soounds interesting, but A very longwinded of getting an experience which video games can offer. I really think interactive narratives whihc branches seperating depending on the player is key to the fututre of story telling, the more like this the better.

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___________
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 3:58:36 AM
Reply

might get it next year in the summer drought.
i really wanna play it for the story, and different scenes.
but i dunno i can see the block puzzles infuriating the f*ck out of me!
too many games not enough time.
let alone money!

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5TAY3R
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 6:22:26 AM
Reply

simply awesome, enjoying every bit of it; infact liking it more than i liked la noire

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Geobaldi
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 6:49:38 AM
Reply

I'll still pass and just read the novel, and watch the anime if one is made.

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Eld
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 8:07:20 AM
Reply

I had my doubts because of puzzle gameplay, but the game is really good and unique. Puzzles aren't that difficult.

I hope it sells well.
Long live Atlus! :)

Last edited by Eld on 7/29/2011 8:08:08 AM

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SmokeyPSD
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 8:39:15 AM
Reply

I honestly was surprised Ben at how negative you felt at first about Catherine. You were feeling very dismissive just a few articles about it back. Good to read this review.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 9:54:20 AM

I was never dismissive. I always hoped it would turn out good, I just had some reservations.

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Alienange
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 6:29:34 PM
Reply

Seems like a generous score considering the best parts are the pervy anime cut-scenes. Those puzzles might be interesting at first, but let's face it, infuriating split-second timing puzzlers with poor controls? It's not a winner.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 8:32:26 PM

The controls are NOT poor at all, if you'd read the review. And in truth, there are no "pervy" anime cut-scenes. There are maybe a few scenes that are titillating but they're short and they never show anything. They comprise about 2% of the entire story.

I think it's painfully obvious that you've never played it.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/29/2011 8:33:08 PM

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Oyashiro
Friday, July 29, 2011 @ 8:06:39 PM
Reply

Just beat it. Last Boss was a epic one. Defiantly one of the best games of the year so far in MHO.

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Ultimate_Balla
Sunday, July 31, 2011 @ 3:52:55 PM
Reply

Will pick it up soon :)

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Ultimate_Balla
Sunday, July 31, 2011 @ 3:52:58 PM
Reply

Will pick it up soon :)

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XmnMetal
Thursday, August 04, 2011 @ 2:31:41 AM
Reply

Just got this game and I'm loving it! This is a breath of fresh air and funny as hell*(*some of the boss designs too).

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josephps3
Saturday, August 06, 2011 @ 11:17:38 AM
Reply

Am I in the Twilight Zone. Am I the only one who thinks Catherine was a complete asinine frustrating irritating morning dump of a game.
I played the demo and thought wtf is this game?

Struggled to stay awake playing the plot portion then having to struggle through a dumb unexciting uninteresting nonsensical increasingly frustrating pyramid puzzle. And then I have to go through it again! This is fun? I enjoy puzzle games. Portal 1 & 2 are examples of well thought out designed rewarding and most importantly logical puzzles.
Catherine is like…imagine all the most frustrating, irritating, annoying badly designed redundant puzzle sections of all other games-that is the theme of Catherine’s puzzles. How anyone can enjoy this type of puzzles is unbelievable.

Now not everyone share my taste and preference but to rate this game highly just defies logic. This game does not deserve anything higher than a 50/100. My gripe is not just this review but with any reviews that give it a AAA or 70+ rating. Sure there will be some ppl who like this type of game just like there will always be dedicated fans of Dynasty Warrior 69 Empires but thats a niche market and small portion of the market. I believe majority of the ppl after playing this game will be left with their jaws on the floor, controls floating in their hands wondering wtf is this game? Did I just spend $60 for this game.

I think some of these reviewers lost touch of what is fun. They played way too many games and have lost touch with reality. Its like those fine art critics who think a toilet seat attached to a fridge is ground breaking courageous art and worthy or praise and million dollars. They don't represent the general public who on average play and finish 2-3 games a month.

That or all these reviewers who gave this game a very high score got bribed with a Catherine blow up doll.

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dork02840
Monday, August 08, 2011 @ 9:49:07 PM

@ joseph ps3. i believe this game asks too much for 60 bucks. but on a conceptual level, it harkens back to a simpler type of game. the interactive cut scenes are in my eyes very funny. i find the puzzlez to be more addictive then frustrating. the reason i consider this a game of the year contender is because prior to its release, whens the last time anyone heavily considered a puzzle game at game stop not named tetris? the fact that it doesnt involve guns or robots or a futuristic apocalypse all the more appealing.

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dork02840
Monday, August 08, 2011 @ 9:42:37 PM
Reply

i just tried the demo tonight. i have not had this good of a personal reaction to a fresh title in ages. being a long time gamer, i find myself feeling so jaded in terms of what dominates the gaming landscape. i was hankering for a game with a classic feel, a fighter, a side scroller, a mascot game or arcade racer. what i got when i turned on this demo was a mind blowing experience. i thank ben for applauding the same-ness of the levels. however, great games rarely need to totally wow you every level, its just that the tweak to the formula. kind of like how uncharted does it, they take the basic crash bandicoot running into the screen or side scrolling from baddies...in drakes case baddies with guns and more intelligent...in the case of catherine, the small twists are delicious. the game is both an homage and a glance into the future. i liken the puzzle style to Q bert. plus in alot of ways the whole doorway at the end of the level concept is eerily reminiscent of old mario titles. add to that a sense of story and drama, and the game is a winner. i know it will get overlooked, but in my book this is an early game of the year contender.

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josephps3
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 @ 12:17:08 AM
Reply

@ Dork. Catherine is no game of the year contender. No way. Look I don't mean to sound like I'm insulting you or anyone just because you enjoy Catherine. Personally I literally think its one of the worst games ever made. Its up there on the top 20 list of the worst ever games but I realize ppl have different taste and preference. But to say its game of the year is like saying Jershey Shore deserves an Emmy or Oscar. Sure lots of ppl like watching that show but its not in the same caliber as some truly award winning shows like Battlestar Galactica. Sure some ppl may find Snooki appealing but don't tell me she's as sexy or classy as Jessica Alba.

To give Catherine a AAA 90+ rating is putting this game in the same category as all time classics like Uncharted 1&2, GTA, Batman Arkham, Mass Effect1&2, God of War, Modern Warfare, Red Dead, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, Portal 1&2, Bioshock etc. Catherine will be appealing to a niche market but it will not have mass appeal. For example, The King's Speech is a great movie but its for a niche market. But Avatar is great movie as well but has a much larger general appeal.

To Ben's credit, in his review, he clearly states that this game is not for everyone. Other reviews however sound like they just had a profound religious experience. It just absolutely perplexing when I have such a drastically different opinion to the point of disbelief that conspiracy theories begins to appear- Did this reviewer get paid to say this. Did the reviewer even play the game or just following the herd.

Anyways, I don`t mean to sound like I`m making fun of you just because you enjoyed Catherine. That would be stupid. That`s what great about this gaming industry. There`s a game for just about everybody. You like extremely dull boring submarine simulation well there is Silent Hunter. I just found it really surprising and shocking how some reviewers LOVE Catherine when I thought it was total pigeon crap. It just reminded me how I have to be careful reading reviews because everybody is different. And that is a good thing in the end. Variety is the spice of life.

So enjoy your Catherine but seriously I respectfully disagree with your opinion that its a great game and game of the year contender.

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ZenChichiri
Thursday, September 01, 2011 @ 10:07:03 PM
Reply

This game promotes drinking but it's impossible when you're drunk. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

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dork02840
Sunday, November 13, 2011 @ 8:11:15 AM
Reply

@ joseph...i can see you did not get enough time with it then. you need to look at this in terms of relevancy. this year, both battlefield 3 and mw3 are considered flaw...especially from my friends at work...they tell me modern warfare 3 is worse then black ops and that it has already gotten tedious(both of them bought it day 1). catherine is a gme NO one knew of virtually. through word of mouth and decent review scores, it sold 200,000 units initially...giving Atlus a new high water mark for the US. i understand where your coming from to an extent and ben too about the 1 dimensional stuff and the gameplay but to be honest...it refines itself really well. i find the gameplay to be highly rewarding. the game rewards you in tower climbs for effort and finding items and treasures and pillows and using tools such as create a block. catherine in my opinion is the heavy rain for 2011. its a non popular genre that a certified hit pushed into relevancy, not because of advertising, but because it was just so fresh and different it had to be tried. there may be games with high production value and better online, but in my experience, i find it impossible to put down. just last night i played for almost 2 hours straight after work, while on sinus meds i might add. im 31 years old, and i can tell you that the games that keep me awake til wee hours or fewer and farther between by the year. this game offers that level of addictiveness, provided you can master its controls and learn its sense of humor.

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