I enjoyed the Catherine demo. With that being said, I was confident that the game would end up fulfilling my high expectations. What I’ve learned is that demos can be very deceiving. Catherine did not live up to my expectations. I’m not saying that Catherine is a bad game, but it’s also just not a very good one.
The narrative is the best part of Catherine. Although I generally don’t enjoy Japanese games, especially some of their impractical stories, the story in Catherine kept me playing through until the very end. You play as Vincent, a confused man in the middle of an intense relationship with Katherine. Vincent meets Catherine, and to keep it simple, he gets himself into quite a mess. This “mess” results in Vincent fighting for his life, night after night.
There are two types of game play in Catherine. For the majority of the game, you will be climbing your way up blocks within a set amount of time. Failure to do so will result in death, and you will have to start over. I found this fun at first, but it got old and repetitive very fast. I played through the game on easy, and I got extremely frustrated with the annoyingly difficult levels.
The camera angle was also a major issue in the game. Sometimes you are required to go behind the blocks, but the camera stays in front of the blocks. The controls reverse when you’re behind the blocks as well, so it was extremely frustrating.
When you’re not climbing blocks, you’ll be in the bar chatting it up with your friends. You can discuss issues with other people in the bar, and build relationships with characters. There is also an arcade machine you can play in the bar that is very similar to the puzzles you play through at night.
Graphically the game looks decent. It’s your standard Japanese anime style cut scenes, with some decent in game character models in the bar. There’s nothing particularly special graphically in the puzzles of the game.
Depending on choices you make and questions you answer, the story will change. There are multiple endings in Catherine, which give you an incentive to replay. On top of the standard story mode (titled “Golden Theater”), there are also two other modes. “Babel” lets you play randomized puzzle levels and compete on the leader boards. Another mode, “Colosseum”, is a competitive multiplayer mode where two local players can compete against each other on puzzles.
Catherine is a very unique game that is set back by it’s own repetitiveness and annoying puzzles. After the fifteen hours it took me to complete the game, I was glad that I got to experience the narrative, but I never want to touch the game again for the game play. It’s hard for me to recommend a game that I kept playing just to get to the next cut scene.