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Catherine



Catherine isn't like other video games. It isn't about saving the world, rescuing a princess, or slaughtering scores of nameless troops. It is, instead, about a regular guy in over his head. That guy is Vincent, a soft-spoken man so afraid of confrontation that he refuses to take control of events that change the course of his life. During the day, Vincent's attempts to make sense of his romantic entanglements lead to fear and desperation. At night, that desperation translates to cruel nightmares in which Vincent scrambles up an increasingly complex tower of emotions. Would you have guessed that Catherine is a puzzle game from such a premise? Yet, this is no ordinary puzzle game. Both Catherine's story and gameplay are so stimulating that they allow you to share in Vincent's increasing alarm as he struggles to find balance in his life--and to stay alive in his terrifying dreams. The game's difficulty can prove daunting, and scattered camera and control quirks sometimes hinder the fun. But if you've got the right amount of courage and stamina, Catherine rewards you with an unusual experience you aren't apt to forget. 

Catherine (キャサリン Kyasarin?) is a horror puzzle-platformer Adventure game developed and published by Atlus for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is Atlus' first internally-developed game for seventh-generation consoles in high definition, and is described as an "adult-oriented" title by the game's character designer, Shigenori Soejima. The cinematic portion of the game is handled by Studio 4°C.The game was released in Japan on February 17, 2011, and in North America on July 26, 2011. Deep Silver will release the game in Europe on October 28, 2011.


Catherine
Catherine Cover Art.png

Developer(s) Atlus Persona Team
Publisher(s) Atlus
Deep Silver (Europe)
Producer(s) Katsura Hashino
Designer(s) Shigenori Soejima
(Character Designer)
Composer(s) Shoji Meguro
Engine Gamebryo
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Xbox 36
Release date(s)
  • JP February 17, 2011
  • NA July 26, 2011
  • EU October 28, 2011
Genre(s) Adult adventure
Puzzle-platformer
Survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player
Multiplayer
Rating(s)
  • ACB: MA 15+
  • CERO: C
  • ESRB: M
Media/distribution Blu-ray Disc
DVD-ROM

The majority of the story is told through attractive anime cutscenes that do an excellent job of conveying Vincent's anxiety. Not only must he keep these two women from meeting each other, but he must also make sense of his own conflicting desires. In the most stressful moments, the camera zooms in close, showing his flustered expression and globules of sweat dripping down his face. Later in the game, Vincent's rising exhaustion comes through loud and clear when he rests his head on the table while his close buddies express their concern. A scene in which Katherine unexpectedly knocks at his apartment door erupts with more intensity than most games deliver with 10 minutes' worth of giant explosions and high-speed car chases. The talented voice cast makes these characters believable. The delivery is occasionally stilted when the voice actor has to sync his or her lines to lip movements created for the original Japanese voice-over. But actor Troy Baker effortlessly expresses Vincent's mood swings between fatigue and fright without making such extremes seem jarring. Catherine is a character study, but it is more absorbing than most game stories: Vincent is likeable and human, and you care about his path. You want him to find direction.

Gameplay

Players control a man named Vincent who, after meeting a strange girl named Catherine, begins having strange nightmares, during which he might be killed. The main story mode, Golden Playhouse, follows the story between Daytime and Nightmare scenarios. During the daytime, Vincent will converse with his friends as well as try to handle his relationship with the two women, Catherine and Katherine. Most of this time takes place in the Stray Sheep bar where Vincent can save and send text messages from his mobile phone, talk to customers, order drinks, play a minigame titled Rapunzel or listen to a jukebox containing tracks from other Atlus games such as the Persona series.
The main gameplay takes place in the Nightmare stages. In a nightmarish dreamworld inhabited by other men, who are represented as sheep, Vincent must climb up giant staircases that are slowly collapsing underneath him and safely reach the top. To accomplish this, Vincent must push, pull and climb blocks as quickly as possible while avoiding various traps such as spikes and ice. Climbing up steps in quick succession increases a score multiplier, and at the end of the level, players are given an award based on their score. Each stage is split up into numerous areas, culminating in a boss stage in which a nightmarish creature also attempts to kill Vincent. Items found throughout the levels include pillows which give extra lives, block items that can be placed anywhere in the level and lightning that can destroy sheep which block Vincent's path. There are also certain attributes Vincent can get depending on what he drinks during the day.Vincent will die if he falls off the bottom of the level, gets caught by a trap or is killed by a boss, with the game ending if Vincent runs out of retry pillows. In between action stages, Vincent can interact with the other sheep, save his game, learn techniques or spend coins on special items. When playing on easy difficulty, players can push the Select/Back button to correct a single block move.
Throughout the game, the choices the player makes during certain sections of the game will  affect the development of Vincent's character and the route the story takes place. These can occur in several ways, such as how Vincent types out a text message to one of the girls, or how he responds to certain questions. The game will feature multiple endings based on the route Vincent takes, and has over twenty hours of gameplay. The game also features a non-linear morality system much more subtle than most other games. Instead of choosing Vincent's reaction at major plot points, the morality meter is affected by responses to seemingly insignificant questions posed by non-player characters, which in turn dictates how Vincent reacts to unexpected situations. Babel Mode features four large stages playable with up to two players, while Vs Colosseum features two players simultaneously playing a stage in order to reach the top first.

Catherine is the work of the same team that developed the Persona role-playing games. And though Catherine is not an RPG, if you've played the Persona games, some elements here will be familiar. Most notably, the day is separated into two vastly different portions. While Vincent is awake, you roam about The Stray Sheep. Here, you chat with your friends and strangers in the booths and at the bar. The elderly twins at The Stray Sheep have some cryptic comments for you ("Would you like to speak to Lindsay?" "Would you like to speak to Martha?"), and television newscasts and conversation threads discuss mysterious local deaths that seem connected to Vincent's haunted nightmares. You also receive text messages on your cell phone from both of your ladies-in-waiting. Opening a text from Katherine is accompanied by a whispered sigh; opening one from Catherine rings out a tinkling giggle. These effects encapsulate the women's traits effectively, cramming their entire personalities (and Vincent's perception of them) into a single audio cue. But you don't just mull over these texts when you receive them: You also reply by choosing from a series of canned sentences.  

How you respond to these texts and the choices you make during other opportunities influence a morality meter of sorts. This isn't the typical good-versus-bad meter you find in other games, however; it's more of a freedom-versus-order meter. Responses that favor Catherine are on the chaotic side; those favoring Katherine are more disciplined. Where you stand on this meter determines how Vincent reacts to certain situations during cutscenes--and it also helps determine which one of the multiple endings you receive. The angel/devil graphic that pops up every time the meter is evoked is intrusive. Nevertheless, it's refreshing to see the ideas of good and bad cast aside in favor of less judgmental attitudes. Vincent might be cheating, but he's not a bad guy (nor an innocent one). Most games focusing on polar-opposite morals make it easy to follow a good or evil path; you just choose to be one or the other and select actions that obviously push the meter in that direction. Catherine isn't so cut and dry, and as a result, you are more likely to answer honestly, rather than "game" the system. 

Characters

Vincent Brooks (ヴィンセント・ブルックス Vinsento Burukkusu?)
Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera (Japanese), Troy Baker (English)
Vincent is the game's main protagonist. He is a 32-year-old single office worker at the point in life between independence from one's parents and marriage. He has no ambitions in terms of love and romance. He is under pressure to marry Katherine, but wants to continue his carefree ways of living alone. His life changes when he meets Catherine, a mysterious beauty, by chance, at a bar. Dreams and reality begin to blur together, and he seemingly becomes trapped in a different world within his nightmares. He previously made a cameo appearance in Persona 3 Portable.
Catherine (キャサリン Kyasarin?)
Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese), Laura Bailey (English)
Catherine is a mysterious 22-year-old woman who has a charming face and a "well-proportioned" body, which makes men turn and stare. She also has a "Koakuma (Gyaru) air" about her, which happens to be Vincent's type, and the two end up spending the night together after she seduces him. Her carefree behaviour begins to disturb Vincent's life. It is after meeting Catherine that Vincent begins to have nightmares. Catherine is featured on the PS3 version's cover art.
Katherine McBride (キャサリン・マクブライド Kyasarin Makuburaido?)
Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)
Katherine is a 32-year-old mid-management level employee at an apparel maker. She and Vincent are from the same town and were classmates at school, and after a chance meeting at a school reunion they strike up a relationship. Katherine suggests marriage to Vincent, which he is not ready for. Katherine is featured on the Xbox 360 version's cover art.
Orlando Haddick (オーランド Ōrando?)
Voiced by: Hiroaki Hirata (Japanese), Liam O'Brien (English)
Orlando is a divorced 32-year-old software engineer, a long time friend of Vincent, and also a regular at the bar. He often hangs around the sushi bar, Kappa Heaven, during the day. He is carefree in both his words and actions, doesn't seem too fond of the idea of marriage and advises a worried Vincent against. He suffered a lot when his former wife dumped him when he had a financial problem, and still feel betrayed.
Jonathan "Jonny" Ariga (ジョニー Jonī?)
Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Travis Willingham (English)
Jonny is a 32-year-old used car salesman. He's Vincent and Orlando's old friend, a bachelor, and also a regular at the bar. He works at his father's used car lot and plans on continuing the family business. He has high ideals with regards to marriage, stating that he believes marriage should be with one's destined partner.
Tobias "Toby" Nebbins (トビー Tobī?)
Voiced by: Kishō Taniyama (Japanese), Yuri Lowenthal (English)
Tobias is a 23-year-old used car salesman and a colleague of Jonny's. He is also a regular at the bar. He has a strong desire to get married, saying that the moment he gets a girlfriend he will marry her. He has a thing for older women and a crush on the bar's waitress, Erica.
Erica Anderson (エリカ Erika?)
Voiced by: Junko Minagawa (Japanese), Erin Fitzgerald (English)
Erica is Stray Sheep's 32-year-old bar waitress and Vincent's childhood friend. She has a bright personality and is up to date on town gossip. Tobias has a crush on her and loses his virginity to her. It is revealed during the Lovers' true ending that she is transsexual, something that was alluded to throughout the game, and was previously known as Eric.
Thomas "Boss" Mutton
Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto (Japanese), Kirk Thornton (English)
Boss (known as "Master" in the Japanese version) is Stray Sheep's barkeeper. The player will go through him to make friends with new customers. Although some articles for the game affirms that "Boss has personally experienced many scenes of carnage", there's not a single reference to this in the entire game. Even this very phrase doesn't appear at all. Very little is known about him and he is seldom seen without his sunglasses. Later in the game, he reveals himself to be an incarnation of Dumuzid the Shepherd as well as the very cause of the nightmares.
Mysterious Voice/Astaroth ( Koe?)
Voiced by: Junko Minagawa (Japanese), Yuri Lowenthal (English)
A strange voice that cryptically announces that he chose Vincent to test if his life is worth continuing before killing him by having him climb the tower night by night, talking to him from a window of a confession booth. It can talk to Vincent outside of the Nightmares too, mostly informing him of what is to come in the next Nightmare while Vincent is washing his face in Stray Sheep's bathroom.
Trisha/Rue Ishida (石田☆ルウ Ishida Rū?)
Voiced by: Junko Minagawa (Japanese), Erin Fitzgerald (English)
Trisha, the "Midnight Venus" is the host of Golden Playhouse mode who sports a large red afro. She provides an introduction to the game's modes and will text Vincent concerning his achievements in the Nightmare stages and to provide him with hints. She reveals herself prior to the final stage of the game's "Babel" challenge mode to in fact be Ishtar and the true identity of Astaroth, and breaks the fourth wall by telling the player she was waiting for them to show exceptional climbing skills via Vincent so as to find a replacement for her consort, Dumuzid, of whom she had grown tired due to his cheating.
 And that's just while playing standard levels. End-chapter bosses terrorize you further, threatening to stab you with forks or rain down hearts on you that reverse your controls. These boss levels also tend to move the camera around to give you a good look at the monstrosity chasing you up the tower. These shifts play with your perspective to the game's detriment; such indulgences shouldn't come at the price of a useful camera view. Even in standard stages, the camera can be a nuisance, given that Vincent can climb behind blocks and become difficult or even impossible to see, even when panning the camera around as far as it will go. The controls, too, might occasionally get in the way. They're generally fine, but if Vincent is in the middle of an animation, he may not immediately respond to your button press. In a hurry, you might move a different block than the one you intended. The resulting challenge is sometimes exhausting. If you find Catherine overly difficult, you can play on easy, though "easy" isn't the same as "cakewalk." And should you find yourself stuck on a level in the middle of the stage, you'll have to quit out and return to The Stray Sheep because only there can you change the difficulty level.
 
Before you leave this safe area and move to the next tower, you enter a claustrophobic confessional, where a disembodied voice forces you to answer a question before continuing. These questions affect your freedom/order meter. And again, because there's no clear good or bad answer, you may be tempted to answer honestly. Some of these questions are straightforward. ("Is it easier to love or to be loved?") Others are ludicrous. ("Would you have sex with a ghost if it were attractive enough?") One nice touch: If you reload and play a stage again, the questions are different, giving the impression that there must be loads of them. Another nice touch: A pie graph shows you how other players answered.

Plot

In the neighborhood in which Vincent lives, there have recently been a number of bizarre incidents in which people die in their sleep with a look of anguish upon their faces. Strangely enough, all of the victims are young men. The story quickly spreads throughout the media, attracting widespread attention and theories as to the cause of death. A strange rumor begins to spread that if a person dreams of falling, then they must wake up soon or they will be unable to wake at all and will die.
Vincent is at a bar contemplating marriage to Katherine, his lover of five years who is pressuring him to get married, when he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Catherine. Although there are many vacant seats, she sits next to Vincent and turns out to be exactly his type. The two end up spending the night together at Vincent's house.
After meeting Catherine, Vincent begins to have nightmares every single night, which he believes may be related to the rumors. In these dreams, he and several other men, who appear to him as sheep, must escape from various horrors trying to kill him, for if he dies in his dream, he will die in reality. As dreams and reality begin to blend together, Vincent must not only fight to survive, but he must choose between Katherine and Catherine.

Development

The game's existence was first hinted at in the PSP game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable. In this game, Vincent appears at Club Escapade on certain days, though in the game he never reveals his name and is simply referred to as "Man Drinking Alone" in his dialogue boxes. However, on a certain day, if you put in the right choices in the pop-up, a picture will appear and will speak more about his relationships in the game. In conversing with the player character, he reveals hints related to his problems, though also states specifically that they are "nothing that [the player character] needs to worry about." It is unclear what, if any, connection Catherine has with the Megami Tensei universe.
The game was also mentioned at Konami's TGS 2010 booth.
Producer Hashino stated less than two weeks after its announcement that Catherine has actually been in development for quite a while, saying: "the Persona 4 development team would switch back and forth between developing Catherine's first stages and polishing up Persona 4.
A playable demo was released on January 27, 2011, in Japan, but was later removed from PSN. It has since been put back up. To prevent gamers from posting spoiler videos, specifically those after Night 8 of the game, or hosting live streams of the game before its intended street date, Atlus posted a humorous public service announcement picture of an in-game sheep, warning gamers who post spoilers on video sharing sites, such as YouTube and Nico Nico Douga, run the risk of having their accounts banned. In response to players' complaint on the game difficulty, Atlus released a patch with a new difficulty mode called Super Easy mode for the PS3 in March 2011. The patch for the Xbox 360 version was released on March 31.
To promote the game, Tokyo restaurant Collabo Dining offered a Catherine-themed drinks and meal menu between February 17, 2011 and March 31, 2011.
Atlus made an announcement on March 1, 2011, and confirmed the game would be coming to North America in Summer 2011.Prior to the official announcement, GameStop accidentally made the game available for pre-order on their website, revealing a more definitive release date of July 26, 2011, which was later officially confirmed. In North America, due to the game's somewhat risqué cover art, an edited version will be used on a "small percentage" of launch copies at select retailers in consideration of more "sensitive" shoppers.

Endings

Depending on the way certain questions and text messages are answered, Catherine has a total of eight endings based on three central narratives. The alignment endings (i.e. Catherine and Katherine) feature a good, bad, and an extended true version while a neutral "Freedom" ending only has two versions.

There's more to Catherine than its single-player campaign. If you earn enough gold medals (not an easy task), you unlock randomly created trial levels for one or two players. And if you finish the campaign, you unlock a short-lived but hysterical competitive mode. It's a shame the barrier to unlock this mode is so high because it's a blast to find ways to hinder your opponent while racing to the top of your shared tower. And to make the proceedings even more absurd, the announcer offers bizarre suggestions. ("Players must now refrain from using the word 'the' while playing this round.") But such silliness is the exception in Catherine, rather than the rule. This story-heavy puzzler is mature and occasionally profound, exploring themes like sexual fidelity, personal responsibility, and trust. Catherine doesn't just challenge your hand/eye coordination: It challenges your intellect and your emotions. 

watch Catherine video trailer for more details.

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