Tuesday, August 26, 2014


 Catherine Review

Kid Safe: Very Low (1.0 / 10)                             Game Quality: High (7.5 / 10)

Genre: Sim Puzzler
-          This game focuses on two major types of gameplay. The first, simulation, focuses on the controlling of a single character must confront people and objects in a realistic setting and decide how to deal with the situations presented to him. The second, puzzler, refers to a focus on solving different puzzling elements to proceed to the final goal; in this case, it is a series of massive "block towers" that must be re-arranged and scaled.

Internet Requirements: Low
-          Catherine has a low internet requirement that is mainly due to a "leaderboard" set-up for the game. What this means is that the game tracks a number of different statistics linked to each individual player so that they may be compared to other players around the world. Examples of these stats include tracking players' answers to different morality questions as well as keeping track of how many points players earn on each puzzle tower.

Story Summary: In Catherine, you play the role of Vincent, an alcoholic who's having some problems in
his personal life. Not only was he seduced in an alcoholic blur by a young vixen by the name of Catherine, leading to him cheating on his current girlfriend, Katherine, but he finds out that Katherine might also be pregnant with their child. As if that wasn't enough, since the incident Vincent has been having horrible nightmares where he is forced to climb a constantly morphing puzzle-block tower and, if he slips and falls, he will plummet to his very real death. Can you help Vincent sort out his social dilemmas all while surviving these horrible dreams?

Kid Safe: Very Low (1.0 / 10)
-          Foul Language: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Catherine features a very high amount of foul language in the form of the following words: "d*mn", "s*it", "p*ss", "a*s", "a*shole", "h*ll", and "f*ck". These words are often used throughout standard dialogue between characters and will be used in both scenes of intense emotions, such as frustration, anger, and fear, as well as in regular conversations between individuals where emotion is not a major factor. This language comes from most characters, especially the main character, Vincent. The word "f*ck" is by far is favorite and generally spills out of him multiple times during times of excitement or dread.

-          Violence and Gore: High
o   Catherine features a high amount of blood and gore which takes place primarily during "death" scenes in the game. As this is a puzzle game and not a title which is violence centric like an action or shooter title, death and gore is often shown as a punishment for poor performance. Players will witness the death of both humans and anthropomorphic sheep creatures.

o   When the player slips and falls from a puzzle tower, they will fall into the abyss below. The game will then display a "spray" of red across the screen which reads "Love is Over" before displaying the character lying dead in a small pool of blood overtop of a number of fallen puzzle blocks. Likewise, during "boss battles", characters are chased by over-sized, monstrous representations of different characters from the game which, if they catch Vincent while he is climbing, will crush or attack him, causing him to explode in a spray of red and leave a pile of bones in his place. The same will happen if Vincent steps on a "Trap Cube", which will shoot spikes up from the ground to attack those who step on it.

o   Finally, there are several scenes of gore outside of gameplay. This includes a scene where a Sheep-Man falls and "splats" on the ground, spraying red from his body. The opening screen to the game features the main character, Vincent, tied up and hanging with barbed wire, causing blood to leak from the points he is tied. Finally, there are scenes of the twisted corpses of men who died in their nightmares, leaving little more than shriveled up bodies with their arms extended and mouth open in a gaping scream.
-          Sexually-Related Content: High
o   Catherine features a high amount of sexually related content which takes place primarily through sexual reference, sensually suggestive material, and partial nudity. Starting off with the matter of nudity, there are multiple scenes where characters, primarily Catherine and Vincent, are either mostly disrobed (in only underwear) or fully nude. The nude scenes are well-done, expertly cutting in and around the characters to avoid visuals of genitalia; showing only side-breast, thigh, hips, buttocks, etc.  This is often witnessed during sensually suggestive scenes as well as via the characters cell-phone, which allows him to look at "dirty pictures" of the character, Catherine.

o   Night-time scenes are often followed up by sensually suggestive material such as a woman crawling over and straddling a man, kissing, caressing, and a scene of a young woman sliding down the body of a man before the camera focuses on his toes curling and uncurling in pleasure. There are multiple references and implication of sexual action without explicit detail.

o   Finally, there are multiple references throughout the title to both cheating and pregnancy. Interestingly, the game seems to suggest that almost every male in the title is or has cheated on their spouse/girlfriend as you will run into representations of just about every male you know in the real-world in the dream-world. Likewise, there is the allusion to the possibility of the women cheating on men as well.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Catherine features a very high amount of drug and alcohol use; focusing primarily on cigarettes and alcohol. Starting off, players will be spending party of every night in this game the local bar: the Stray Sheep. While at this bar, there are multiple depictions of characters both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Likewise, players are able to order a variety of alcoholic beverages including Whiskey, Beer, Cocktails, and more. Players are encouraged to drink as it will make them move faster while playing the dream sequences. Even if a player does not manually choose to drink, the game's cutscenes feature multiple instances of Vincent drinking and smoking excessively, leading to him blacking out several times and even leading to him accidentally cheating on his girlfriend with "Catherine".

Game Quality: High (7.5 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: High
o   Catherine boasts beautifully hand-drawn sequences that are rendering nicely alongside computerized creations of the same design, making this quite the visual treat. Cutscenes will move swiftly back and forth between what is essentially a Japanese-animated movie (think "Princess Monoke" or "Howl's Moving Castle") over to an interactive 3D world where players can bring these characters to life using their game controller. Players are able to get up and walk around the "Stray Sheep" bar to look at things, play arcade games, talk to patrons, order drinks, and generally work to figure out the mysteries surrounding his terrible dreams.

o   When playing in the dream-world, players will also get to experience an unexpected amount of variety along with smooth visuals. Blocks will move and slide here and there with very little lag, allowing for quick but solid gameplay; allowing a player to be confident that they can work fast without worrying that they will move TOO quickly and possibly fall off the side of a tower. On top of this, every "stage", which consists of multiple levels that a player must compete, is unique and interesting. As players progress through this title, they will climb through caves, torture chambers, the insides of a massive clock tower, a snowy fortress, and more.

o   The single problem with the visuals in this game are that there is too much usage of the computer-characters versus the hand-drawn ones. For the amount of cutscenes where you cannot and will not control a character, the amount of hand-drawn characters versus computerized characters is overwhelmingly one sided. While I don't doubt that this was probably to save time and money, it made the presentation feel a bit lop-sided.
-          Audio: High
o   Decent voice acting, excellent sound effects, and the occasional musical piece make Catherine as much a joy to listen to as it is to watch. To start off, most every character has a unique sound and voice type: Catherine sounding small and innocent, almost child-like, Katherine is firm and commanding, slightly cold, Vincent can never seem to sound confident, always like he is just about to get caught with his hand in the cookie jar. This is the same with most every character, whether they are part of the main cast or not. Likewise, everyone does a decent job nailing their lines and there are very few complaints.

o   What really takes the cake, however, are the sound effects. Catherine likes to focus on small little sounds and amplify them to an almost thunderous tone and importance. A perfect example: the tapping of a nail. In one of the scenes with Vincent and Katherine, the scene opens with Katherine tapping her nail on a table. It's a simple sound, repeated over and over, progressively getting louder until even you feel uncomfortable with the tension between the characters. Likewise, the loading screen for the game is a digital clock quickly scrolling through the numbers. Nonetheless, the clock will "tick" every second or so. This does a perfect job in easily and quickly building unease as you wait for the next horrible dream-sequence.

-          Gameplay / Playability: Moderate
o   To be completely honest, this was probably one of the hardest categories to pass judgment on. Starting off with playability, this game has a learning curve akin to a small, gentle-slope that goes headlong into a brick-wall. Eventually, if you bang your head against it enough you might be able to break through it with some minor brain-trauma, property damage charges, and a couple of missing teeth. Or, if you are smart, agile, and lucky enough, you might be able to scale it with your bare hands...but it's still quite the trial. The game attempts to help you along by showing you "techniques" on how to handle certain situations, allowing you to reverse a couple of "actions" so that you might undo a mistake or two, providing items with special abilities to help you scale the puzzle walls, and an absolute host of extra lives...but this charity only goes so far. There are a multitude of situations and puzzles that can only be solved by sheer dumb luck or a kind of near omnipotent intellect that far surpasses my measly capabilities. One or more controls may have possibly been thrown across the room or broken in half in a fit of rage.

o   With this said, I can't get enough. This is probably one of the very few games that will actually make it to my library. The gameplay is absolutely addictive and constantly challenging at a level that so many games released today just can't compete with. The game is very much a niche title and will very likely only appeal to players that already enjoy and play puzzle or strategy titles; however those that do play these games, like myself, it is hard to put down. The game is masterful at being able to hook you in with a small bit of success and then providing you a puzzle that will leave you bleeding hours off the clock as your try and defeat it. Even after the occasional fit of frustrated rage, I always found myself coming back a couple hours later.
-          Dollar-Value: High
o   Overall, Catherine has a relatively high dollar-value. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this game is NOT for everyone and will only really appeal to an adult audience that enjoy logic puzzles and strategy games. However, if you or your gamer fall into this category, this is the game for you. The "game" overall is pretty short, about 6 hours technically, however you will probably spend almost double or triple that just trying to surpass certain puzzles. Likewise, the game has a multitude of alternative story choices and endings that are influenced based on how you act towards others throughout gameplay, leading to a pretty decent replayability.

-          We don't really have any grand recommendations compared to this game, it's simply too unique. However, if you are looking for some good puzzle titles, games like Bejeweled, Cubix, Montezuma's Revenge, and Collapse are all decent casual puzzlers that might wet your interest. We might also recommend Puzzle Quest due to its interesting combination of roleplaying elements with puzzler gameplay.

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